31/05/20 Micah 7:1-7
Micah 7:1 – Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered (harvested) the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: [there is] no cluster to eat: my soul desired the firstripe fruit.
This passage today could be Micah pondering on what has happened to Israel. Seemingly they hadn’t passed the point of no return, yet. However, it could also be seen as a statement made by or on behalf of Israel similar to the following:
Isaiah 1:7-9 – 7Your country [is] desolate, your cities [are] burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and [it is] desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, [and] we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
That is, “I” could be Micah the prophet lamenting for himself on behalf of Israel, or he could be speaking the lament of Israel herself. Today’s passage is the consequence of Micah 6 where God asks Israel (Judah) to defend her rebellion if she can. God has stated that Israel was once His special people, and now look at what they have become by Micah’s day. It has some of the idea of 2 Samuel 1:19 – The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!
woe – woe; alas; from a word meaning to lament or to wail.
grapegleanings – a term describing the gleaning of grapes where gleaning is the useful remnants of a crop that can be gathered from the field after harvesting. (thefreedictionary.com)
It has a similar meaning to “glean” and “gleaned” (same Hebrew for each) in the following from Ruth Ch.2, where it is translated “glean” or “gleaned” 12 times out of 37 occurrences of this word. All 12 occurrences of “glean” or “gleaned” are in Ruth Ch.2.
Ruth 2:2-3 – 2And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after [him] in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter. 3And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field [belonging] unto Boaz, who [was] of the kindred of Elimelech.
the firstripe fruit – first-ripe fig; early fig; firstfruits.
The summer fruits were the harvest of grape clusters for the wine (the vintage), and the firstripe fruit (of the fig) was the sweetest, much preferred fruit for eating. All that was left were the gleaning of the grapes (scattered fruit remaining, not in clusters) and only the promise of the poorer late fruit of the fig.
Woe is me, for when I sought a cluster of ripe grapes to eat, there were only few and scattered fruits remaining; there was no cluster of grapes to eat, nor were there any of the firstripe figs that my soul desired.
This is what Israel had become. Instead of the productive nation that God had desired that they should be, they were now unproductive; instead of the quality of their service that God desired, they could now only produce rubbish.
Isaiah 5:3-7 – 3And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 4What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? 5And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; [and] break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: 6And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts [is] the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
Micah 7:2 – The good [man] is perished out of the earth: and [there is] none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.
The good (man) – faithful; kind; godly; holy one; pious. (Note God’s requirements of a good man in Micah 6:8.) It is not the same as “a (good) man” in the following where the emphasis is upon “man” = man; strong man; warrior (emphasising strength or ability to fight).
The steps of a [good] man are ordered by the Lord: (Psalm 37:23)
In Micah 7:2 above it is “the good (man)” who has perished (has been exterminated; died out; vanished; lost; strayed) from the earth. This implies that all now were not pious and holy, that Israel had become as one of the wicked nations to whom she was supposed to be a nation of priests. she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that [are] round about her: (Ezekiel 5:6)
Judah (to whom Micah is speaking) had become more depraved than Israel who had probably by this stage already gone into captivity, from which she has not yet been restored.
Ezekiel 16:46-47 – 46And thine elder sister [is] Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, [is] Sodom and her daughters. 47Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as [if that were] a very little [thing], thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways.
And, while Nineveh (capital of Assyria, where Israel went into captivity) was an extremely wicked nation, Jesus declared that they were even more righteous than the pharisees.
Matthew 12:41 – The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas [is] here.
There is no longer anyone who is righteous among men. (This is a generalisation; it obviously didn’t include Micah.) Note that Noah was the only one named as righteous in his day (Genesis 6:9); remember where that got all the rest of them!
Genesis 6:5; 7a – And God saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.
7And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth;
If there are no pious and righteous men left, then logically all must therefore be otherwise. Thus they all lie in wait (set ambushes) to shed blood by violence. Everyone hunts his brother (or fellow countryman) – when they were commanded to love their brethren.
Leviticus 19:17-18 – 17Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the Lord.
with a net – could translated as “for destruction”. It is translated “net” 9 times, “accursed thing” 9 times, “accursed” 9 times, “destruction 2 times (38 altogether).
Psalm 10:8-11 – 8He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor. 9He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net. 10He croucheth, [and] humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones. 11He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see [it].
Micah 7:3 – That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge [asketh] for a reward; and the great [man], he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up.
with both hands earnestly – Not just using one hand but using both hands equally well (or thoroughly). That is, the evil they do is done thoroughly or earnestly to the best of their ability. These people are experts in doing evil!
great – great; large; important; distinguished.
asketh – asks for; enquires of; asks a favour of.
(asketh) for a reward – that is, taking a bribe. It could be read as acceding to the demands of the prince.
uttereth his mischievous desire – the important (or rich?) man makes his views clear to the others.
wrap it up – to weave together. The three of them connive together to produce a suitable (or satisfactory) miscarriage of justice. Ellicott says, “Literally, twist it, and pervert the course of justice.”
And their victim suffers without any justice at all. Pulpit Commentary says, “So they wrap it up — The prince, the judge, and the great man, agreeing in their ill designs, make a threefold cord of iniquity: or, they twist one sin upon another, the latter to maintain or cover the former, and all jointly promote injustice, violence, and cruelty.”
Micah 3:9-12 – 9Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. 10They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. 11The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, [Is] not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us. 12Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed [as] a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.
Isaiah 1:23 – Thy princes [are] rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
Micah 7:4 – The best of them [is] as a brier: the most upright [is sharper] than a thorn hedge (mᵉcuwkah): the day of thy watchmen [and] thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity (mᵉbuwkah). (Note the play on word sounds.)
best – good; pleasant; agreeable; better (best) - comparative; kind.
brier – Any of various thorny shrubs or other plants, such as the sweetbrier and greenbrier. (thefreedictionary.com)
upright – righteous; pleasant.
The most agreeable of them is no better than a thorny brier bush and the most righteous (or pleasant) is no better than (or worse than) a thorny hedge. The comparison is clear: anything that is no better (and even worse) than a brier or thorn hedge is bad enough to be rejected.
Hebrews 6:8 – But that which beareth thorns and briers [is] rejected, and [is] nigh unto cursing; whose end [is] to be burned.
the day of thy watchmen (and) thy visitation cometh – The watchmen were to keep watch on the city walls and to announce the danger if the enemy should attack. That day when the watchmen are required to perform their duty has come, for the time of visitation (punishment) is coming, or has arrived. In the spiritual sense, the prophet was God’s watchman, keeping vigil over the spiritual safety of God’s people.
Isaiah 21:6 – For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.
Ezekiel 33:1-9 – 1Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 2Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: 3If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; 4Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. 6But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take [any] person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. 7So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. 8When I say unto the wicked, O wicked [man], thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked [man] shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 9Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
perplexity – confusion; perplexity; confounding. When God’s judgment came upon Israel, they would be perplexed, for as a nation they believed that they were God’s people and that He would never forsake them. They arrogantly thought that because God had made a covenant with Israel, then He would never break that covenant. And, in one way they were absolutely right: God would never break that covenant. Instead, they did. They totally misunderstood that the covenant required something of them as well. God could only be their God if they remained God’s people by their obedience.
And the same applies to the church of today! God still expects His people to obey His will!
Matthew 7:21-23 – 21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Note also that Romans 9 deals with this same problem for Israel; thus Romans 9 can not support the calvinist unconditional election. Romans 9 actually condemns Israel for arrogantly assuming that, because she was God’s people by covenant, she had an automatic and unchangeable right to God’s mercy. Israel didn’t automatically obtain God’s mercy no matter what, for if Israel failed to accept God’s covenantal conditions, then God could choose to refuse them mercy, according to His will, not theirs! This is the context in particular of Romans 9:14-16.
Micah 7:5 – Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.
trust in – believe in; trust in.
friend – friend; companion; fellow; intimate; fellow-citizen.
confidence – trust; confidence; security.
guide – friend; intimate; familiar friend.
This may be an example of Hebrew parallelism:
Trust ye not in a friend,
Put ye not confidence in a guide:
The 2 lines are synonymous, thus synonymous parallelism. This is for effect, emphasising a statement by saying it twice.
Be careful before you trust someone who calls himself your friend; be careful before you place your security in an intimate person.
Note what David said about such a “friend”, probably Ahithophel, a counsellor of David who betrayed David to Absalom (see 2 Samuel 15, 16 & 17).
Psalm 55:12-14; 20-21 – 12For [it was] not an enemy [that] reproached me; then I could have borne [it]: neither [was it] he that hated me [that] did magnify [himself] against me; then I would have hid myself from him: 13But [it was] thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. 14We took sweet counsel together, [and] walked unto the house of God in company.
20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant. 21[The words] of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war [was] in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet [were] they drawn swords.
keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom – Be careful about even taking your wife into your confidence. (“the wife of your bosom” – Deuteronomy 13:6)
In fact, it is worth noting the following passage with respect to today’s passage. It was trusting the advice of others close to you that often had led Israel into trouble.
Deuteronomy 13:6-9 – 6If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which [is] as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; 7[Namely], of the gods of the people which [are] round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the [one] end of the earth even unto the [other] end of the earth; 8Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: 9But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
Micah 7:6 – For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies [are] the men of his own house.
dishonoureth – regard or treat as foolish; treat with contempt.
riseth up – rises up (in a hostile sense).
enemies – masculine gender and therefore a specific enemy rather than enemies in general. Here the specific enemy is “the men of his own house”.
If you lie, cheat, deceive and destroy others, then you may expect the same to happen to you (Matthew 7:12). You will reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7). If you dishonour others, then others (including your family) will dishonour you. Likewise, all other contentious behaviour. And it will be in the family where it will hurt the most.
The worst enemies to have are those of your own household. Jesus taught this clearly, saying that His gospel would split households and cause members to rise up against each other.
Matthew 10:21; 34-38 – 21And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against [their] parents, and cause them to be put to death.
34Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36And a man’s foes [shall be] they of his own household. 37He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
Micah 7:7 – Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.
Therefore (that is, as a result of considering all the above) I will look unto (watch closely) the Lord; I will see and understand what He requires of me. This ties back to Micah 6:8 – He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
I will wait for (tarry for; hope for) the God of my salvation (the God who alone can save me).
Even if all else shall fail, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 – 17Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither [shall] fruit [be] in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and [there shall be] no herd in the stalls: 18Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me; my God will listen to me, will pay attention to my words, will understand me, will hear my case (my pleadings before Him).
This is clearly the view of Micah, a view that he desires Israel to have as well, yet his prophecies demonstrate that this just isn’t going to happen. God desires them to be delivered from their iniquities, yet He also prophecies the judgment they will receive because of those iniquities which they will not turn away from, will not repent of. God desires the salvation of all mankind (1 Timothy 2:4), yet will send most of mankind to hell because they (by their own wills) rejected His desire that they should be saved.
Israel didn’t listen, and Israel was punished. At first (for Judah, anyway) there was to be a return from their captivity, but they again rejected their God (their Messiah) after the resurrection. And were accordingly rejected again, not for 70 years this time but more like 2,000 years (and still counting).
However, one day they will return and will once again (and for all eternity) become God’s people and He will be their God.
Joel 2:32 – And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.
Ezekiel 37:26-27 – 26Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
It was always
only God who could rescue them from their mess.
Psalm 121:1 – I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.