Because I have sinned against Him, I must endure the rage of the LORD, until He argues my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me into the light; I will see His righteousness.
Obadiah 1:8-15) or their Chaldean conquerors. Light came to them in Babylon, through the witness borne by Daniel and his friends, the ministry of Ezekiel, the favour of Cyrus, and above all by their deliverance from the curse of idolatry before their restoration to their land. They may be applied also to a Church in a depressed or fallen state. A godly remnant could yet look forward to deliverance and revival. E.g. Sardis (Revelation 3:1-5). We may also use the words as describing the experience of a sinner humbled before God and man. Notice -
I. HIS PRESENT STATE.
1. He has fallen. Then he had stood before. He has been no hypocrite, but a pilgrim on the highway from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. Like Christian in Bunyan's immortal allegory, he has been confronted by Apollyon. In the struggle he has been wounded in the head, the hand, and the foot. "Then Apollyon, espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and, wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall; and with that Christian's sword flew out of his hand." Prostrate and powerless, he seems "drawn unto death and ready to be slain."
2. He sits in darkness. A hardened sinner in such a crisis may have a light, such as it is ("Walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled," Isaiah 50:11). But the fallen Christian is heard bemoaning himself (Job 29:2, 3). The sun, the light of God's countenance, is gone. It is a night of mist. Not even a star of promise can be seen except when the mist is for a moment or two dispersed before a rising breath of the Divine Comforter, who, though grieved, will not depart.
3. He is exposed to the indignation of the Lord. He cannot attribute his darkness to sickness or nervous depression. In the gloom caused by conscience he sees the shadow caused by the righteous anger of God (lea. 59:1, 2). "Therefore we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness," "For our transgressions are multiplied," etc. (vers. 9, 12).
4. He has to bear the scorn of men. His enemies rejoice. This makes the cup of bitterness overflow. The self-righteous formalist thanks God he is not as other men, or even at this Christian. The profligate man finds one more excuse for asserting that there is no such thing as real religion (cf. Psalm 35:15, 16, 21, 25). We can imagine the morbid curiosity in the streets of Jerusalem, when it began to be whispered that a dark deed had been committed in the palace of King David, and that Uriah's death had been procured by foul means. Would not the men of Belial mock at the royal psalmist - seducer - murderer 1 Samuel 12:14)? How the soldiers and the servants round the fire within the judgment must have chuckled while Peter was weeping without! The world may hold its most riotous carnival, not when martyrs are burning at the stake, or their dead bodies are lying in the street of Sodom, but when the Saviour is wounded in the house of his friends, and the Church is mourning over the lost reputations of its fallen members (Luke 17:1).
II. THE GROUNDS OF HIS CONFIDENCE FOR THE FUTURE. The fallen Christian looks forward to rising again. He anticipates a new day when the Sun of Righteousness shall again rise on him. He speaks boldly (ver. 8). This is either the grossest presumption or the noblest faith. It is like Samson's boast, "I will go out as at other times;" or like David's trustful anticipation, "Then will I teach transgressors thy ways," etc. That these words are no vain vaunting we learn from the grounds of his confidence.
1. He resolves quietly to endure God's chastening strokes. Such submission is one sign of genuine repentance. Illust.: The Jews in captivity (Leviticus 26:40-42, "and they then accept, the punishment of their iniquity; then will I remember my covenant, etc.); Eli (1 Samuel 3:18); David, all through his long chastisement (see e.g, 2 Samuel 12:20; 2 Samuel 15:25, 26; 2 Samuel 16:11; cf. Job 34:81; Lamentations 3:39; Hebrews 12:5-7).
2. He puts his trust entirely is God. He has just before (ver. 7) spoken of himself as shut up to God. Again he returns to him and repeatedly expresses his faith, "The Lord shall be a Light unto me: he shall plead my cause: he will bring me forth to the light." His godly sorrow and cheerful submission are signs that there is a mystic film, a spiritual cord that binds him, even in his fallen state, to his Father-God And he has promises to plead (Psalm 37:24; Proverbs 24:16). Illust.: Jonah (Jonah 2:3, 4), St. Paul (Romans 7:24, 25). Grievous as are the sins of God's adopted children, they are provided for: "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin" - if any one of you little children sin, grievous and aggravated as your sin may be - "we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the Propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:1, 2). God vindicates such a penitent. He restores his soul. He renews his peace. He re-establishes his tarnished reputation. He puts a new song in his mouth (Psalm 40:1-3; Isaiah 12:1, 2; Isaiah 57:18, 19). - E.S.P.
I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him
I. THE SOLEMN PURPOSE OF THE SOUL. "I will bear the indignation of the Lord." She saw the Lord's hand in her afflictions. It is no small wisdom, when we are enabled to see clearly the mind and the dealings of God with us in our afflictions. What was the "indignation" that the Church had to bear? Not that which God shows to those who despise Him and rebel against Him; but the eternal display of God's wrath against sin, a holy indignation against iniquity; the indignation of a Father's displeasure. It is not the less painful for that. It is the very love of the father that makes his displeasure so keen to the heart of the child.
II. THE REASON THAT SHE GIVES FOR IT. "Because I have sinned against Him." Sin should be regarded in three different points of view. There is a course of sin. There are sins into which a child of God may be surprised. There is the missing of the aim of the child of God. There are two features in her confession. She acknowledged the sin to have been against God. And she threw the blame upon herself. Excuse mars confession. She did not throw the blame on inward corruption. Some confess sin, but they only confess it in the general. If a man truly confesses, he searches sin to the root. Nothing more humbles the spirit than such thorough and sincere confession.
(J. H. Evans, M. A.)
I. HE SUBMITS HIMSELF TO GOD. Various are the trials which the people of God are called to endure. There is no promise that they shall be exempt from distressing circumstances. Each one shares the common sorrows of humanity. Each one has also sorrows peculiar to himself, arising from his disposition and circumstances. Yet, in all, the real child of God beholds God's hand. He knows that, whatever he may have to suffer, it is from the Lord. Knowing, then, whence his troubles come, the child of God bows beneath the chastisement, it may be with a keen feeling of their loss, or woe, but with a patient submission to God's will.
II. HE JUSTIFIES GOD. Pride may sometimes enable a man resolutely to bear evils which cannot be avoided. A naturally cheerful temper, also, will not feel the burden of sorrow so heavy as it is felt by a mind naturally anxious and desponding. But Christian submission is accompanied by a feeling which mere cheerfulness cannot produce, and which pride steadily opposes — a feeling of conscious guilt. Every grief is the offspring of sin. The Lord afflicts us, either that we may not forget our original deserts, as children of wrath; or, because we have committed some new transgression; or, as a means of correcting and renewing our naturally corrupt hearts. The child of God, therefore, while he smarts beneath the stroke of chastisement, acknowledges the propriety of it. He submits, for he knows that he has deserved it. This is the state of mind which God desires to behold in every sinner. This is the very end for which earthly trials are sent.
III. HOPES IN GOD. "Until He plead my cause." Trust in the mercy of God is no less the duty of a true Christian, than submission to the will of God and an acknowledgment of His justice in afflicting us. The child of God puts his trust in that very hand which smiteth him. Faith enables him to see, that chastisement, when patiently endured, is a sign of his adoption. Being assured of this, he can trust his Father's kind affection for removing the trial in due time. Thus doth the afflicted child of God "lean only upon the hope of His heavenly grace." Worldly sorrows thus become light and tolerable even when they are manifestly the consequences of sin. As I have cautioned you against a merely proud submission to God, and against an impenitent confession of your sinfulness, let me also warn you against a presumptuous hope of God's mercy. God is a "jealous" God. There is a hope which will prove at last no better than a vain presumption: and the Bible does not leave us in doubt as to what that hope is. It is the hope of the hypocrite. It is the hope of the careless, thoughtless sinner, who talks loudly about God's mercy. There is but one way in which you are authorised to hope in God. Approach Him with deep and heartfelt penitence; abhor and forsake every sin; and then your confidence in Him will stand on a secure foundation.
(J. Jowett, M. A.)
I. DETERMINATION TO BE CULTURED UNDER TRIAL. "I will bear, etc...against Him." Two kinds of indignation spoken of in Scripture. Of one it is said, "Who can stand before His indignation?" Of the other the Church says, "I will bear it." The one, fiery wrath of an offended King; the other, chastening displeasure of a loving Father. The one, hot anger, which utterly consumes; the other, loving correction, which melts, refines, and purifies. While before one none can stand, before the other, that we may be partakers of His holiness, God yearns that we may bow. When the Christian sees chastening displeasure issuing from a Father's wounded love, he says, "I will bear the indignation of the Lord." But something more. "Because I have sinned." I will bear it, because it is less than I deserve; because I know who sends it, and the object He has in view. Illustrate Shimei's conduct, and David's treatment of him (2 Samuel 16:5-14). Recollect that God's indignation may fall on us through others, or may come direct from Him.
II. LIMIT OF ENDURANCE TO BE PROPOSED. "Until He plead my cause, and execute judgment for me." In the trials which the Church had schooled herself to bear, there had been much of harshness, injustice, and wrong. God permits others to afflict us, whose purpose may be different to His own. Though the wrath of man is hateful, God makes it subservient to His wise purposes, and restrains its exercise. In every case of this kind, we should distinguish between man's purpose and God's purpose, or patience is beyond our reach. Illustrate Joseph in Egypt; and Israel in Egypt. If then, besides looking at man's purpose, we will train ourselves to look at God's purpose, and also for God's limit, we shall be able to appropriate the language of the text, and so follow the example of Christ, who, under trial, committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.
III. EXPRESSION OF CONFIDENCE TO BE MAINTAINED. He will bring me forth...light...righteousness." Observe the meaning of the language. Obviously figurative: sorrow, trouble, desolation (whether the temporal or spiritual) continually spoken of as "darkness," and the reverse as "light." But, when the proper season comes, God fulfils His promise to make darkness light before His servants, by turning doubt into confidence, affliction into prosperity, sorrow into joy; and He brings them forth into the light by removing their burdens, making clear their way, vindicating them from false charges, and revealing, at least in some measure, the reason and benefit of their grief.
(W. D. J. Straton, M. A.)
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