Micah 7:7


The word "therefore," or the term in the Revised Version, "but as for me," marks the transition from a terrible necessity to a priceless privilege. It was a time when it was needful to be suspicious of those who ought to have been worthy of unlimited confidence. Neither a companion nor a familiar friend, nor even a child or a wife, could be trusted (vers. 5, 6). Such had been the experience of many in the past. Samson had been betrayed by his tribesmen, his friend, hie father-in-law (Judges 14:20), and her that "lay in his bosom." David had found his confidence betrayed by the men of Judah (1 Samuel 23:12, 19), by Joab (2 Samuel 3:22-39), by Ahithophel, and by Absalom. As it was in the days of Micah, so would it be in the days of Jesus Christ, when many of his disciples would go back and walk no more with him, and when an apostle would betray him. No wonder that some of his servants are called to a similar experience (Matthew 10:24, 34-36). The prospect manward is thus dark and depressing in the extreme. Note what a disintegrating and destructive force sin is. It not only separates between man and God (Isaiah 59:2), but has a tendency to alienate friends, to break up families, to destroy human confidences, and gender a pessimism which finds expression in the passionate, though not deliberate, verdict of the psalmist, "All men are liars." If we cannot repose confidence in others, can we trust in ourselves? Our consciousness of sin and utter failure forbids this (vers. 8, 9; Jeremiah 17:9). Thus we are utterly shut up to God. A military man, suffering from some obscure disease of the mind, was in the habit of promenading in a certain track on the ramparts, after sunset. When he walked eastward, and had nothing but the dark sky to look on, extreme dejection oppressed his clouded mind. But no sooner did he turn towards the west, where his eyes caught the brightness left by the sun that had set, than hope and peace revived in his heart. There are times when, if we look anywhere but towards God, our Sun, we may feel ready to despond or despair. Then we know what it is to be shut up to God. "But as for me, I will look unto the Lord." That look implies hope: "I will wait;" and faith: "My God will hear me." When we thus look, wait, trust, our thoughts may express themselves in the following thoughts about God, and our "meditation of him shall be sweet."

I. HOW MUCH WE HAVE IN GOD.

1. His name, Jehovah, describes his nature. He is the eternal, unchangeable, faithful, covenant keeping God. He revealed himself by that new name when he came as the Redeemer of his distressed people. And this Jehovah is "my God." Martin Luther remarks, "There is a great deal of divinity in the pronouns." The theology taught in the term "my God" is worth more than all the lectures ever given on "the attributes."

2. The figures employed for God remind us of the treasure we have in him. Look, for example, at a single group of figures in the sixty-second psalm. There God is described as "my Rock," on which I can safely rest and securely build; as "my high Tower" (Revised Version); "my strong Habitation, whereunto I may continually resort" (Psalm 71:3); and therefore as "my Refuge," where I may be safe from the sword of the avenger of blood, or from any other foe. The city of Metz prided itself in the name "La Pucelle," the virgin fortress; but in October, 1870, its fair fame was tarnished by its fall, and its inhabitants were at the mercy of their foes. But no such disaster can ever overtake those who can say of the Lord, "Fie is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; in him will I trust."

II. HOW MUCH WE MAY EXPECT FROM GOD. "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him." Among the blessings we may expect are the two crowning mercies which the prophet claims by faith.

1. Answers to prayer; which will be definite, appropriate, decisive ("My God will hear me"), such as God's servants of old received; e.g. Jacob (Genesis 32.), Moses (Numbers 14:18-20), Asa (2 Chronicles 14:11, 12), Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20.). These prayers will bring:

2. Deliverance; for "my God" is "the God of my salvation." Thus in the midst of dangers from without or from within we can say, with the psalmist," I shall not be greatly moved" (Psalm 62:2). Like the rockingstones on the Cornish coast, we may at tunes be slightly shaken but not "greatly moved;" moved, but not removed. Like the magnet, we may oscillate for a time, and be slightly affected by changing conditions, but never greatly moved from our purpose of witnessing faithfully for God and his truth. Yet our confidence in regard to our stability is not in ourselves, but in our God, in "the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

III. HOW WORTHY HE IS OF UNLIMITED CONFIDENCE. "I will look;" "I will wait;" "My soul, wait thou only upon God;" "Trust in him at all times." "It is comparatively easy," says Dr. Edward Payson, "to wait upon God, but to wait upon him only - to feel, so far as our strength, happiness, and usefulness are concerned, as if all creatures and second causes were annihilated, and we were alone in the universe with God is, I suspect a difficult and rare attainment." This is the unlimited confidence to which we aspire. Then we may not only wait upon God, but wait for God, leaving the tune and method of our deliverance to him (Psalm 37:7-9; Psalm 130:5, 6). Then we shall not only be shut up to God, but shut in with God (Psalm 91:1). With God on our side we are in the majority. "How many do you count me for?" asked an ancient commander of an officer who was alarmed at the disparity of the forces they could array against the foe. "I will fear no evil, for thou art with me."

"Be thou my God, and the whole world is mine;
Whilst thou art Sovereign, I'm secure;
I shall be rich till thou art poor;
For all I fear and all I wish, heaven,
Earth, and hell are thine." E.S.P.







That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the Judge asketh, for a reward
This is a picture, given at a stroke, of a proficient in sin in the highest state of sinful activity. He is doing evil "earnestly," systematically, persistently, with a certain enthusiasm as if it were the very instinct of his being and the very business of his life. In order that he may be stimulated and kept at it, he asks a reward, a pecuniary consideration from those who are to profit by his villainy. The man stands at the uttermost point from duty, and is ready to perish in his own corruption: This is terrible as a moral phenomenon. Terrible as an illustration of the natural history of sin, and its tendency to run out to unspeakable issues. None of us have a proper and adequate idea of sin, either as in God's sight or in its deadly influence on ourselves. There is no sin which has not its root in the human heart. And wherever there is the root there may be the fruit. Wherever there is the germ there may be the growth. Upon the development of this possibility God does not put any mechanical restraint. He tells us our duty; He plies us with motives; He presses us with arguments, with reasons, with threatenings, with promises. He does not override our nature, so as to destroy that free agency which makes us responsible, and without which we should belong to a totally different circle of life. Sometimes God does make His providence seem to stand in the way, as when He made the angel cross the path of Balaam. But it is to make a man pause and reflect before he goes further, not to compel him to desist. Is it not a strange thing that God should reward men with success who are breakers of His laws? But these men are not breaking those of His laws from which they receive their reward. Whichever of God's laws you obey, that law will reward you according to its kind, just because it is a law. Why does God allow the ungodly man to attain wealth? Simply because that ungodly man has sought wealth with all his might. He has made it the one aim of his life, and in order to secure it he has scrupulously obeyed those laws with which the attainment of it stands connected. The man obeys the law of success in that department. But he also allows the law which he disobeys to bring to him the natural result of that disobedience. And if the law which he disobeys be the higher law, the law of his spiritual life, then, whatever he may gain in the lower sphere, he is a loser in the higher, and therefore a loser in reality, a loser in the end, for he destroys his soul. As this success in sin is not prevented by providence, so neither is it prevented by the circumstance of possessing religious privileges. Privileges are a means of good; but the more good we resist the more hardened we become. Learn — It is not necessary that we should disobey the laws in the lower sphere; they can be obeyed in subordination to the higher. But if we practically make the lower the highest, then that which is really highest avenges itself by destroying the soul. The lesson of the text is just this — If we have not yet turned to good, the sooner we do so the better, There must be a great turning on the part of every one.

(A. L. Simpson, D. D.)

This is how bad men work. At least, it is how they wrought in the prophet's time. There is no excellence in mere earnestness. Earnestness may be as fiery as the flame, and at the same time as destructive to real life and goodness. Yet every man should be in earnest. We ought to live our life and do our work "with both hands earnestly."

I. WITHOUT HANDS. There are some good men who seem to be without hands altogether. From dawn of life until dusk they do nothing expressly for Christ. They could work with hands, because they do, in other things, a song, a political struggle, or their business. I know the excuses that will be pleaded, and the bars that will be put in for arrest of judgment:

II. WITH ONE HAND. So, many of His servants serve Him. And this is well when it is just at the beginning of the service. A little is attempted at first. A little more is added, and so the service grows into some fulness, and the worker into some strength. You may be tender with the green blade if you see that it is green and therefore growing. A man may be touching Christian work only "with one hand," but better so than not at all. More will come. Ha will be weary soon working with one hand. He will need the other for his own relief. He will take if he is not discouraged. Let all the one-handed men hear the "God-speed" of the older workers.

III. WITH BOTH HANDS. For, after all, there is no perfection, even of a relative kind, with one. And the continued use of one only is a shocking imperfection in the Christian service. For as both hands have been given for use, the other will not be idle. It will be working in forbidden ways. It will be undoing what is done by the other. "With both hands," then, for very safety. When we think of it, how very few things there are in the house, or in labour, or in business that we can do with one hand. A man without an arm is considered disabled as a workman.

IV. WITH BOTH HANDS EARNESTLY. It is not enough that all the talents are laid out; they must all be laid out to the best advantage. It is not enough that every power and passion shall be enlisted in the Lord's service; they must all be baptized, inspired, and energised with a Christian earnestness. Thought must be suffused with feeling, and work must be filled and vitalised with love. There are those who work "with both hands," who keep nothing back. There is no conflict of principles in their souls, and no visible flaw in their obedience. But the mechanism is mechanical, there is no vital action. The Christian earnestness is not mere vehemence and heat. It is essential that it be informed with full intelligence. The difference between fanaticism and zeal is chiefly a difference in knowledge. Christian earnestness is wise and thoughtful in the application of knowledge, in the judgment of persons, events, times, or seasons. Christian earnestness is very patient. Some reasons for an earnest life.

1. Self-preservation requires it.

2. Honesty requires it.

3. Benevolence requires it.

4. Gratitude requires it.

5. Time requires it.

6. The text requires it.This text is one taken from the enemy. We have seized it as from the devil. It describes his hosts. We thank them for the attitude. We accept the challenge. We are no soldiers unless we do.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

And so they wrap it up
Homilist.
The author of this book, though a contemporary of Hezekiah, evidently sketches a period in Jewish history far more corrupt than his own day. The period he refers to in the context was a period when the good man had "perished out of the earth," and when "upright men existed not"; a period when all were "lying in wait for blood," and every man was "against his brother." Yet though the people and the authorities of this period were so corrupt, they had not entirely lost all shame of the abominations, for the prophet says, "they wrap it up." All were busy in artful endeavours to conceal from others the wickedness of their conduct. Now, the endeavour of these people to wrap up their sin in concealment is worthy our attention, for several reasons —

I. BECAUSE IT IS GENERAL. Sin seems to have in it an instinct of self-concealment; it cannot bear the light. Like the noxious reptiles of the earth, it shrinks from observation. Hence no sooner does a man commit a sin than he seeks "to wrap it up."

1. He seeks "to wrap it up" from society. In all grades of society, in all departments of action, men are active in wrapping up their sin. The dishonest tradesman wraps up the thousand sins of his daily avaricious life in the bland smile, the cringing bow, and the false statement which he makes to his customers. Every parcel he delivers to the purchaser is wrapt up in falsehood. In the professions you have the same wrapping. The lawyer, the physician, the priest, each has his sins, and each has his method of wrapping them up. Candidates for public offices will "wrap up" the sinful wishes that prompt them to seek the post, by many an avowal of patriotism and benevolence, as false as they are fair. This general "wrapping up" of our sins from the eyes of our fellow men shows the essential hideousness of sin. The conscience of universal man feels that it is an execrable thing, therefore he seeks to conceal it.

2. He seeks to "wrap it up" from his own conscience. This the sinner does by specious excuses which he offers to himself for his wickedness. Sometimes he will seek to "wrap" his sin in the garb of custom, so as to hide its enormity from his conscience, and he hopes that the custom of his trade or his profession will justify his doings. Sometimes he will "wrap" his sin in the infirmities of men who have been regarded as good, and he will seek to satisfy conscience by reference to the imperfections of men whom the world, the Church, and even the Bible itself, canonise as saints. Sometimes he will endeavour to "wrap up" his sin of religious neglect by promises of improvement in a future time, as Felix did of old. The endeavour of this people to wrap up their sin is important to notice —

II. BECAUSE IT IS WICKED. It is adding sin to sin; the concealment of a sin is a double sin. By wrapping a sin up, however strong may be your motives for doing so, you enhance the guilt, and make the matter worse. The serpent hatches its brood under the cover.

1. Concealing sin is a sin against our constitution. We are organised to be open and revealing; we have organs made to reveal fully and faithfully what is in us, and our natural instincts urge us to this revelation.

2. Concealing sin is a sin against society. We have no right to appear to others what we are not. The hypocrite is, of all forgers, the most wicked and dangerous.

3. Concealing sin is a sin against God. It is an insult to His omniscience. The endeavour of these people to wrap up their sins is important to notice —

III. BECAUSE IT IS UNWISE.

1. The endeavour must inevitably prove fruitless. Even here, circumstances often occur in a man's history to bring out to the full view of his contemporaries his hidden sins. The wrappage gets rent, and the unswathed monster leaps into the light, and men shudder. "Murder will out"; and not only murder. Yes, and to a man's own conscience here, often by the force of moral conviction, all the monsters are unwrapt. But in the future there will be a full and complete unfoldment. Fold after fold, however intricately and numerously winded round the evil tiling, will be unloosed and thrown away in the flames of the last day. "God will bring every work into judgment with every secret thing" (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 10:26; 1 Corinthians 4:5).

2. The endeavour is eternally inimical to happiness. The child who commits a crime against his parents will move in wretched gloom in the happy circle of love, so long as he seeks to wrap up his offence. Let him confess it in tears, and the dark cloud will break, and the sun will shine again into his heart. Thus David felt, "When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long" (Psalm 32:3). "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh shall have mercy."

3. The endeavour, if persisted in, will involve in unutterable ruin.

(Homilist.)

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