A. God’s people humbly confess their sin.
1. (1-4) An honest confession of their sinful state.
Woe is me!
For I am like those who gather summer fruits,
Like those who glean vintage grapes;
There is no cluster to eat
Of the first-ripe fruit which my soul desires.
The faithful man has perished from the earth,
And there is no one upright among men.
They all lie in wait for blood;
Every man hunts his brother with a net.
That they may successfully do evil with both hands–
The prince asks for gifts,
The judge seeks a bribe,
And the great man utters his evil desire;
So they scheme together.
The best of them is like a brier;
The most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge;
The day of your watchman and your punishment comes;
Now shall be their perplexity.
a. Woe is me: On behalf of the sinful nation, the prophet Micah confessed the sin of God’s people. First, he recognized that their sin had left them impoverished (there is no cluster to eat of the first-ripe fruit which my soul desires). Then he described some of their specific sins and their general character, revealing their deeply ingrained sin against others.
b. The day of your watchman and your punishment comes; now shall be their perplexity: When the sinner is immersed in sin and feeling successful, they feel like there is no price to pay for their sin. Nevertheless, there will come the day of your watchman and your punishment. The assured self-confidence of the sinner will be turned to perplexity.
2. (5-7) Crumbling relationships among God’s people.
Do not trust in a friend;
Do not put your confidence in a companion;
Guard the doors of your mouth
From her who lies in your bosom.
For son dishonors father,
Daughter rises against her mother,
Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
A man’s enemies are the men of his own household.
Therefore I will look to the LORD;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
My God will hear me.
a. Do not trust in a friend: Because of their rampant sin and selfishness, personal relationships had crumbled among God’s people. One could not trust in a friend or put confidence in a companion, and even blood relatives were at war with each other.
b. Therefore I will look to the LORD…my God will hear me: In this sin-immersed culture, there were few people to inspire confidence or offer compassion – so one could only look to the LORD.
i. This was a bad thing because people should be honorable and trustworthy enough so that we can have confidence in them and expect compassion from them. Nevertheless, God can use this as a good thing, because it forces us to put our trust in the only One who can never let us down – the God of my salvation.
3. (8-10) The humble state of God’s people.
Do not rejoice over me, my enemy;
When I fall, I will arise;
When I sit in darkness,
The LORD will be a light to me.
I will bear the indignation of the LORD,
Because I have sinned against Him,
Until He pleads my case
And executes justice for me.
He will bring me forth to the light;
I will see His righteousness.
Then she who is my enemy will see,
And shame will cover her who said to me,
“Where is the LORD your God?”
My eyes will see her;
Now she will be trampled down
Like mud in the streets.
a. Do not rejoice over me, my enemy: Micah spoke for those brought low by personal sin and the sin of the community. In spite of their humiliation, he warned their enemies to not rejoice over their condition because when I fall, I will arise and when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. “You see me brought low now, but you should know that it isn’t for long. God will lift me up.”
b. I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against Him: Speaking for the sinful people, Micah honorably took responsibility for their sin. The idea is, “I know that I have sinned, and so I will accept my correction.” Micah knew that God’s people would stay in their low place until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. They were totally dependent on God’s care.
i. “Herein is discovered the difference between remorse and penitence. In remorse a man is sorry for himself; he mourns over his sin because it has brought suffering to him. In penitence he is grieved by the wrong sin has done to God; he yields his personal suffering in the confidence that by it God is setting him free from his sin.” (Morgan)
c. He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness: At the same time, there was complete confidence in the salvation of God and their vindication before their enemies. This shows that God’s people knew their sinful state, but they also knew the greatness of God’s redemption.
B. God’s comfort and pardon for His people.
1. (11-13) The restored city of the people of God.
In the day when your walls are to be built,
In that day the decree shall go far and wide.
In that day they shall come to you
From Assyria and the fortified cities,
From the fortress to the River,
From sea to sea,
And mountain to mountain.
Yet the land shall be desolate
Because of those who dwell in it,
And for the fruit of their deeds.
a. In the day when your walls are to be built, in that day the decree shall go far and wide: When the time comes for Israel’s restoration, God will send a call out far and wide to gather and restore His people.
b. Yet the land shall be desolate because of those who dwell in it: When God gathers Israel for restoration, they will come to a desolate land, ruined because of the judgment of God on the sin of His people.
2. (14-15) God cares for His people as in days of old.
Shepherd Your people with Your staff,
The flock of Your heritage,
Who dwell solitarily in a woodland,
In the midst of Carmel;
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead,
As in days of old.
“As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt,
I will show them wonders.”
a. Shepherd Your people with Your staff: After God’s people will be brought back to the place they belong, they will be lovingly cared for by the LORD Himself. The LORD shepherds them and feeds them.
b. As in the days of old: There was a time when God’s people enjoyed this kind of close relationship with Him. Now, that previous relationship will be restored, and He will show them wonders. The wonders will come out of the close relationship with the Shepherd.
3. (16-17) The nations are brought low before restored Israel.
The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might;
They shall put their hand over their mouth;
Their ears shall be deaf.
They shall lick the dust like a serpent;
They shall crawl from their holes like snakes of the earth.
They shall be afraid of the LORD our God,
And shall fear because of You.
a. The nations shall see and be ashamed: When Israel is restored to the land and enjoys a restored relationship with the LORD, then those who opposed God’s people will see how wrong they were to fight against them.
b. They shall be afraid of the LORD our God, and shall fear because of You: Seeing the greatness of God’s restoration will make the nations respect the LORD in a way they didn’t before. They will see the power and love of God in action.
4. (18-20) The glorious mercy and pardon of God.
Who is a God like You,
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.
You will give truth to Jacob
And mercy to Abraham,
Which You have sworn to our fathers
From days of old.
a. Who is a God like You: In light of the glorious restoration given by the LORD to Israel, Micah glorified the God of such great forgiveness (pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage). Micah saw that God’s forgiveness was so great, that it can’t even be compared to what often passes for forgiveness among men.
i. Boice on who is a God like You: “It is a theme verse and appropriately ends the book. For it is a play on Micah’s name. Micah means ‘Who is like Yahweh?’”
b. Because He delights in mercy: Why does God have such great mercy and forgiveness for His people? The reasons are in Him, not in His people. It is simply because He delights in mercy.
i. If God delights in mercy, then why are some men lost? Because God doesn’t delight in mercy so as to shame His justice. God opens His hand of mercy to all who will receive it, but those who will not receive His mercy can blame only themselves.
ii. If God delights in mercy, then why is He not always, on every occasion merciful? Because there comes a time when the guilty must be punished. God’s judgments are in themselves expressions of mercy because they are like the cutting away of cancer. The surgery hurts but must take place or the whole body will die.
iii. If God delights in mercy, then why is there an unpardonable sin? We should be grateful that there is only one unpardonable sin – the sin of rejecting His mercy.
iv. If God delights in mercy, then why do I feel that He can’t have mercy on me? In such cases, we should trust God and not our feelings. “Whatever despair may whisper or doubt may suggest, one text of Scripture is worth fifty fears and doubts, or fifty thousand either.… All objections to the delight of God in mercy are but illusions of your brain, or delusions of your heart.” (Spurgeon)
v. If God is this merciful to those who sin against Him, do we have any justification for not showing mercy to those who sin against us? “To all of you I would say – take care, as you expect the mercy of God, to deal it out to others. Never say, ‘I won’t forgive,’ for you seal your own condemnation when you do, and if you forgive not your brother his trespasses neither will your heavenly Father forgive you. You have chosen your own destruction when you shut the door against your child, or against your neighbour, and say, ‘I will treasure up that enmity as long as I live.’ I tell you, sirs, your offerings at God’s altar are an abomination to him until you have forgiven every one of your fellows his trespasses.” (Spurgeon)
c. He will again have compassion on us: God’s people once knew His compassion, but they resisted and rejected it. Now they could know it again, confident that He will again have compassion on us.
i. His compassion is shown in that the LORD will subdue our iniquities. He loves us as sinners but loves us too much to leave us in our sin. His compassion saves us from our sin.
ii. His compassion is shown in that the LORD will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. God will not hold on to our sin but forgive us instead. This means there is no probation with God’s forgiveness. He doesn’t forgive our sins just to hold onto them and hang them over our heads. In His compassion, He does away with our sins, casting them into the depths of the sea – and then He puts a “No Fishing” sign there!
iii. His compassion is shown in that the LORD will give truth to Jacob. God’s people not only need His mercy, they also need His truth and He is compassionate enough to give His truth as He gives mercy and pardon.
d. Which You have sworn to our fathers from days of old: In concluding his prophecy, Micah saw God’s future work as a continuation of His past work to the fathers of Israel. Micah knew that the same love, compassion, and mercy He showed to their fathers was available to them today – if they received it in faith.