Micah 7:1
Woe is me! For I am like one gathering summer fruit at the gleaning of the vineyard; there is no cluster to eat, no early fig that I crave.
Sermons
The Joy of the Harvest InauguralMicah 7:1
The Unrevived ChurchHomiletic MonthlyMicah 7:1
A Moral Dearth in the LandE.S. Prout Micah 7:1, 2
The Wail of a True Patriot on the Moral Corruptions of His CountryD. Thomas Micah 7:1-6


The prophet, speaking in the name of the godly remnant of the land, laments their terrible isolation. We are thus reminded of the sad condition of a land in which there is a dearth of good men. For:

1. They are the choice fruit of the land - wholesome, fragrant, delicious. The ideal Israel is compared to "grapes" and "the first ripe in the fig tree" (Hoe. 9:10). The Lord "taketh pleasure" in such; they satisfy the hunger of the Divine heart for godliness in the creature (Psalm 147:11; Psalm 149:4; Proverbs 11:20). So far as they share the spirit of Christ, they are, like him, "beloved of God," and should be attractive to men.

2. They are the salt of the earth - the one element that preserves from universal corruption. The picture presented to us is the gradual dying out of the godly; they "cease" (Psalm 12:1), they "perish" (Isaiah 57:1). Some few remain, "two or three in the top of the uttermost bough," which were not touched, or those unripe which were but imperfect and poor, or those which had fallen, "and thus were fouled and stained, and yet were not utterly carried away." The promise, "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children" (Psalm 45:16), is no longer fulfilled. The sons and daughters of the godly do not rise up to fill their places in the Church The few godly survivors are heard lamenting and longing for the pious companions of former days; "my soul desireth the first ripe fig" (desiderio tam cari capitis). The fewer the good that remain, the more difficult it is for them to retain the fervour of their piety. Embers dispersed soon die out. It is hard to keep up a June temperature under December skies. From this dearth of the godly many evils follow. There is a loss of confidence, first in spiritual fellowship, and then in social relations (ver. 5). There is a loosening of the most sacred family bends. Depravity and degradation become deeper and darker (vers. 3, 4). The little remnant of God's servants are increasingly depressed and discouraged: "Woe is me!" (cf. Psalm 120:5; Isaiah 6:5). This results from constant contact with sin and from the heart-sickness which it causes; "great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart" (Romans 9:2). Thus we learn:

1. The greatest calamity to a nation is not war, pestilence, or famine, but the withholding of the Spirit of grace to convert the hearts of men, and consequently the dying out of the righteous. The famine of bread is bad; the famine "of hearing the words of the Lord" is worse. But worst of all is the dearth of living witnesses for God in the land.

2. The winning of souls to God is the greatest wisdom and the most enlightened patriotism.

3. The welfare of a nation is bound up with the living God, the true Church, and believing prayer. - E.S.P.







Homiletic Monthly.
The picture before the eye of the prophet is that of famine in the midst of plenty, want in time of harvest, sterility amid summer fruits, soul fasting and wretchedness in a season of external prosperity and fulness. The time of ingathering is at hand. And yet Israel knew not the day of Divine visitation; she had no appreciation of the golden fruit, no heart or no capacity to pluck and eat the ripe clusters. This is a truthful representation of the experience of very many Christians and churches. There is no heartfelt appreciation of God's outward mercies, or of His gracious, spiritual manifestations." He comes to them in the "summer fruits," and in the autumn "vintage"; but so dull are their spiritual perceptions, so vitiated are their tastes, so surfeited are they with the "apples of Sodom" and the wild grapes of sinful indulgence, that they know it not, and feel no hungering after righteousness; "there is no cluster" in all God's vintage which they can eat. So have we seen souls in times of glorious revival, when sinners were pressing into the kingdom, and many souls were refreshed and full of rejoicing, unrevived, unblest, crying, "Woe is me!" "There is no cluster to eat." So have we seen whole churches and communities left to darkness and desolation and death, while the mighty God had bared His arm for salvation, and was deluging the land with a wave of regenerating and sanctifying power.

(Homiletic Monthly.)

My soul desired the first ripe fruit
The nation of Israel had fallen into so sad and backsliding a condition that it was not like a vine covered with fruit, but like a vineyard after the whole vintage has been gathered, so that there was not to be found a single cluster. The prophet, speaking in the name of Israel, desired the first fruit., but there was none to be had. The lesson of the text, as it stands, would be that good men are the best fruit of a nation; they make it worth while that the nation should exist; they are the salt which preserves it; they are the fruit which adorns it, and blesses it. But I take the text out of its connection, and use it as the heading of a discourse upon "ripeness in grace." We can all say, "My soul desired the first ripe fruit." We would go on to maturity, and bring forth fruit unto perfection, to the honour and praise of Jesus Christ.

I. THE MARKS OF RIPENESS IN GRACE.

1. Beauty. There is no more lovely object in all nature than the apple blossom. Much loveliness adorns youthful piety. Can anything be more delightful than our first graces? Autumn has a more sober aspect, but still it rivals the glory of spring. Ripe fruit has its own peculiar beauty. What a delicacy of bloom there is upon the grape, the peach, the plum, when they have attained perfection! Nature far excels art. The perfumed bloom yields in value to the golden apple, even as promise is surpassed by fulfilment. The blossom is painted by the pencil of hope, but the fruit is dyed in the hue of enjoyment. There is in ripe Christians the beauty of realised sanctification which the Word of God knows by the name of the "beauty of holiness." This consecration to God, this setting apart for His service, this avoidance of evil, this careful walking in integrity, this dwelling near God, this being made like unto Christ, — in a word, this beauty of holiness, is one of the surest emblems of maturity in grace.

2. Tenderness. The young green fruit is hard and stone-like; but the ripe fruit is soft, yields to pressure, can almost be moulded, retains the mark of the finger. The mature Christian is noted for tenderness of spirit. I think I would give up many of the graces if I might possess very much tenderness of spirit. An extreme delicacy concerning sin should be cultivated by us all.

3. Sweetness. The unripe fruit is sour, and perhaps it ought to be, or else we should eat all the fruits while they were yet green. As we grow in grace we are sure to grow in charity, sympathy, and love. We shall have greater sweetness towards our fellow Christians.

4. A loose hold of the earth. Ripe fruit soon parts from the bough. You shake the tree and the ripest apples fall. You should measure your state of heart by your adhesiveness, or your resignation, in reference to the things of this world. The master will not let his ripe fruit hang long on the tree.

II. THE CAUSES OF THIS RIPENESS. So gracious a result must have a gracious cause.

1. The inward working of the sap. The fruit could never be ripe in its raw state were it taken away from the bough. Outward agencies alone may produce rottenness, but not ripeness; sun, shower, what not, all would fail, — it is the vital sap within the tree that perfects the fruit. It is especially so in grace. Everything between hell and heaven which denotes salvation is the work of the Spirit of God, and the work of the grace of Jesus. That blessed Spirit, flowing to us from Christ, as He is the former of the first blossom, so He is the producer of the fruit, and He is the ripener of it until it is gathered into the heavenly garner.

2. The teaching of experience. Some fruit, like the sycamore fig, never will ripen except it be bruised. Many of us seem as if we never would be sweet till first we have been dipped in bitterness; never would be perfected till we have been smitten. We may trace many of our sharp trials, our bereavements, and our bodily pains, to the fact that we are such sour fruit; nothing will ripen us but heavy blows. Ripeness in grace is not the necessary result of age. Little children have been ripe for glory. Many an aged Christian is not an experienced Christian. Time may be wasted as well as improved; we may be petrified rather than perfected by the flow of years.

III. THE DESIRABILITY OF RIPENESS IN GRACE. Many Christians appear to think that if they are just believers it is enough. To be just alive as a Christian is horrid work. The fruit which under proper circumstances does not ripen is not a good fruit,; it must be an unwholesome production. Your soul can surely not be as it should be if it does not ripen under the influence of God's love and the work of His grace. It is the ripe fruit that proves the excellence of the tree. The Church wants mature Christians very greatly, and especially when there are many fresh converts added to it. The Church wants, in these days of flimsiness and time-serving, more decided, thorough going, well-instructed and confirmed believers.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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