PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|Sorrow for Israel's Sins||A Series of Laments, Threats, and Denunciations Directed Against All Classes of Israelites||Israel's Normal Corruption||Universal Injustice|
|Israel's Confession and Comfort||God Will Show His Steadfast Love to Israel and Shame Will Cover Her Enemies||The Lord Brings Salvation||Zion Insulted by Enemies|
|A Prophecy of Restoration|
|God Will Forgive Israel||The Lord's Compassion on Israel||A Prayer for the Confusion of Zion's Enemies|
|7:16-17||A Plea for God's Forgiveness|
A. This chapter can be analyzed by who is speaking and who is spoken to.
B. The NIV Bible outlines the speakers as
1. Micah, vv. 1-7, 11-13, 16-20
2. Zion, vv. 8-10, 14
3. God, v. 15
C. It is difficult
1. to separate the prophet speaking and God speaking
2. because Hebrew poetry changes subjects often for literary effect
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:7:1-6
1"Woe is me! For I am
Like the fruit pickers and the grape gatherers.
There is not a cluster of grapes to eat,
Or a first-ripe fig which I crave.
2The godly person has perished from the land,
And there is no upright person among men.
All of them lie in wait for bloodshed;
Each of them hunts the other with a net.
3Concerning evil, both hands do it well.
The prince asks, also the judge, for a bribe,
And a great man speaks the desire of his soul;
So they weave it together.
4The best of them is like a briar,
The most upright like a thorn hedge.
The day when you post a watchman,
Your punishment will come.
Then their confusion will occur.
5Do not trust in a neighbor;
Do not have confidence in a friend.
From her who lies in your bosom
Guard your lips.
6For son treats father contemptuously,
Daughter rises up against her mother,
Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
A man's enemies are the men of his own household.
7:1 "Woe is me!" This is an individual lament (BDB 47). although at times it moves into the area of a corporate plea. This is a common literary technique of the Psalms (cf. Ps. 5,13,22,55,71).
It is uncertain who is speaking:
1. the prophet himself
2. the prophet as YHWH's spokesperson
3. the prophet on behalf of the godly remnant
NASB"I am like the fruit pickers"
NKJV"For I am like those who gather summer fruit"
NRSV"For I have become like one who, after the summer fruit has been gathered"
TEV"I am like a hungry person who finds no fruit left"
NJB"a harvester in summer time"
The NASB has left out the term "summer" (BDB 884) which denotes "heat." This gathering is not the initial harvest, but the last picking. YHWH waited and waited for fruit, but there was never a harvest!
▣ "Like the fruit-pickers and the grape gatherers" Micah craves righteousness (or a righteous people or righteous leadership, i.e., v. 3) as a hungry man craves food (cf. Matt. 5:6). The concept of righteousness as food is found throughout the Bible (cf. Amos 6:12; John 15:1-8; Phil. 1:11; Gal. 5:23).
The Jewish Publication Society of America (JPSOA) says v. 1 refers to Samaria. They search for food, but cannot find it (i.e., because of  the siege or  God's famine, cf. Deut. 27-28). The JPSOA continues this thought through v. 7.
However, I think this context relates to Jerusalem. In one sense they are too late (i.e., the harvest of their unrighteousness has occurred—exile) and in another sense they are too early (i.e., the promise of restoration in the future has not yet come).
▣ "first ripe fig, which I crave" These early figs were very sweet and sought after. They first appeared in June, although, the major harvest did not occur until August. Micah (as God's spokesman) is searching for righteousness as a man longs for these first figs.
7:2 "The godly person" This is the ADJECTIVE form of the covenant term, hesed (see Special Topic at Hos. 2:19), which means God's unconditional, no strings attached, covenant loyalty (e.g., v. 18; 6:8; 7:18; Jer. 5:1). It is parallel to "upright person." This is referring to a covenantly faithful person, of which there is none (e.g., Ps. 12:1; Isa. 57:1)!
▣ "All of them lie in wait for bloodshed" The VERB (BDB 79, KB 83) is a Qal IMPERFECT, which is often used in Joshua and Judges and is translated "ambush." This is a metaphor of hunting to describe the scheming violence of the elite of God's people (i.e., the greedy, wealthy, powerful leaders).
This term (BDB 196) is literally "blood." It is used often in the eighth century prophets (mostly Ezekiel, cf. Hosea 1:4; 4:2; 6:8; 12:14; Jonah 1:14; Micah 3:10) to describe violence and death.
▣ "Each of them hunts the other with a net" They exploit each other at every opportunity. Their motto would be "more and more for me at any cost!" Persons made in God's image, covenant partners, have no value!
7:3 "Concerning evil, both hands do it well" This is another striking metaphor of ambidextrous evil. The VERB (BDB 405, KB 408, Hiphil INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT) means to do something well or thoroughly. Here a word normally used of doing something good is used of purposeful evil!
▣ "The prince asks, also the judge, for a bribe" The leaders were seeking rewards (i.e., bribe, cf. 3:11; Exod. 23:8; Deut. 10:17; 16:19; 27:25) instead of justice.
▣ "And a great man speaks the desire of his soul;
So they weave it together" This verse describes the corrupt judicial and political situation (cf. 3:1-12; Isa. 59:9-12; Jer. 8:8-12; 22; 23; 26:12-15). The wealthy man tells the judges and governmental officials what he wants and they find a way to get it for him, no matter what it takes. God's covenant people have become corrupt. They look and act just like all other fallen nations!
The VERB "weave" (BDB 721, KB 783, Piel IMPERFECT) is found only here. The related form is found in Joel 2:7 as "deviate" or "swerve." This term may be a play on the concept of sin as a deviation from God's standard (i.e., righteousness).
7:4 This seems to be sarcasm (cf. JPSOA translation), but it is possibly related to the idea that everything they tried to do to prepare for invasion did not work (cf. Isa. 22:5). There seems to be a change of subject in v. 4. The first two lines describe the ungodly mentioned in vv. 2-3. However, the next three lines may refer to (1) the prophets (watchmen, cf. Jer. 6:17; Ezek. 3:17; Hos. 9:8) or (2) Judah's preparations for siege.
▣ "confusion" This term (BDB 100) is used to describe God's judgment (e.g., Isa. 22:5).
7:5-6 These verses show (1) the level of corruption that had occurred within the Judean society or (2) the stress caused by the siege. Everyone was out for personal gain (cf. vv. 2-3; Jer. 9:4; 12:6). There were no true friends (i.e., Prov. 17:17; 27:6,9).
This verse has two IMPERFECTS used as JUSSIVES and one IMPERATIVE:
1. "do not trust" - BDB 52, KB 63, Hiphil IMPERFECT used as a JUSSIVE
2. "do not have confidence" - BDB 105, KB 120, Qal IMPERFECT used as a JUSSIVE
3. "guard" - BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal IMPERATIVE
7:6 "son treats father contemptuously" The VERB (BDB 614, KB 663, Piel PARTICIPLE) means "treat with contempt," "dishonor," or "scoff" (e.g., Deut. 32:15; Jer. 14:21; Nahum 3:6). This metaphor is also used in the NT in an eschatological sense (cf. Matt. 10:35-36; Mark 13:12; Luke 12:53). God knows how this feels (cf. 2:18).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:7:7-8
7"But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.
8Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy.
Though I fall I will rise;
Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.
7:7 "I will watch expectantly for the Lord" Notice the sharp contrast between v. 7 and vv. 1-6. The VERB (BDB 859, KB 1044, Piel IMPERFECT) is used in a COHORTATIVE sense. Patient trusting in God's actions is evidence of faith (e.g., Ps. 38:15; 39:7; 42:5; 130:5; Isa. 8:17; Lam. 3:25).
▣ "I will wait for the God of my salvation" Notice the personal element in the faith/salvation. The VERB (BDB 403, KB 407) is a Hiphil COHORTATIVE. These two (three) poetic lines are parallel and describe a faithful, trusting, covenant follower of YHWH.
▣ "My God will hear me" Micah has previously announced that YHWH will not hear and respond to the prayers of evil Israelites or Judeans (e.g., 3:4), but He will surely hear and respond to those who keep His covenant in faith (cf. 6:8).
7:8-13 The interpretive question is, "Does v. 8 go with v. 7 or start a new strophe?" Most English translations start a new thought at v. 8 (NKJV, NRSV, TEV, NJB, but not NASB).
It seems that vv. 8-10 may need to be separate from 11-13 because the last two verses reflect the will of YHWH for future restoration and universal influence.
7:8 "Do not rejoice over me" The VERB (BDB 403, KB 407) is a Hiphpael COHORTATIVE.
▣ "O my enemy" The enemy here could be the invading nations, but in reality the enemy was the sin nature of the covenant people (all people). This reminds me of the prayer in Ps. 19:12-13.
▣ "Though I fall I will rise" The VERB (BDB 877, KB 1086) is a Qal PERFECT. This could refer to individual restoration or the corporate restoration from the Exile (possibly purposeful ambiguity, cf. 4:13).
▣ "Though I dwell in darkness" The VERB (BDB 442, KB 444, Qal IMPERFECT) means "to sit" or "to dwell."
Darkness is used often in the OT as the opposite of "light." This term can refer to an eschatological situation (e.g., Isa. 9:1; 29:18). The author feels cut off from YHWH because of the corporate sin and the resulting judgment. The worst aspect of judgment is the absence of God's personal presence!
▣ "the Lord is a light for me" This is a striking biblical metaphor for (1) truth versus falsehood; (2) healing and health versus rottenness and corruption; (3) moral goodness versus evil; or (4) joy versus gloom. Notice this verse personifies this Light as God (cf. Ps. 27:1; Isa. 60:20; I Tim. 6:16; I John 1:5). Knowing Him, obeying Him, serving Him forms believers' personal relationship with God (i.e., same personification is found in John 14:6).
In Isa. 9:2 people will see a great light and a light will shine on them. This Messianic light is Jesus (cf. John 8:12; 12:35-36,46). Verse 8 highlights God's presence with the faithful in times of distress, while v. 9 promises a future day of personal physical encounter.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:7:9-13
9"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 out to the light,
And I will see His righteousness.
10Then my enemy will see,
And shame will cover her who said to me,
'Where is the Lord your God?'
My eyes will look on her;
At that time she will be trampled down,
Like mire of the streets.
11It will be a day for building your walls.
On that day will your boundary be extended.
12It will be a day when they will come to you
From Assyria and the cities of Egypt,
From Egypt even to the Euphrates,
Even from sea to sea and mountain to mountain.
13And the earth will become desolate because of her inhabitants,
On account of the fruit of their deeds.
7:9 "Because I have sinned against Him" Micah (like Moses, Isaiah, and Daniel) acts as a representative of the people. Personal disaster, as well as corporate disaster, is directly related to our individual and corporate rebellion against God (cf. Deuteronomy 27-28)! Many godly Judeans will suffer because of their rebellious society.
Again there is the fluidity between "I" (NASB) and "we" (TEV). This prophet is acknowledging the sin of his society (cf. Isa. 6). Sin is the problem, exile the result, but restoration is the sure hope and promise of God.
▣ "Until He pleads my case" This legal metaphor is also seen in 6:1-5. In different passages God acts as a prosecuting attorney (e.g., 6:2), a defense attorney (7:9), as well as judge.
▣ "He will bring me out to the light" This is a play on God as light in v. 8 line 3. God is light and He brings truth to light. Several times in this context "see" is used (cf. 9 line 5, 10 line 3, 16 line 1, cf. Ps. 17:15; Matt. 5:8; Heb. 12:14; I John 3:2; Rev. 22:4).
▣ "I will see His righteousness" God's character as Righteous Judge is seen in His judicial actions. God's character as Merciful Father is also seen in His forgiveness and restoration (i.e., forensic justification by grace through faith). He will make good His promises to the faithful remnant and to humanity! This is similar to Job's statement in Job 19:25-27. See SPECIAL TOPIC: RIGHTEOUSNESS at Hosea 2:19.
7:10 "Then my enemy will see" The VERB (BDB 906, KB 1157) is JUSSIVE in form, but IMPERFECT in meaning.
▣ "Where is the Lord your God" All ancient wars involved the national gods. The Jews were confused in their theology concerning YHWH's help on behalf of "the nations" who judged His people (cf. Habakkuk). YHWH used godless nations to bring His rebellious people back to Himself. Yet, He will also judge those nations (i.e., Assyria, Babylon) which He used. At first the Jews would have thought that the gods of these pagan nations were stronger than YHWH, but the reality was that it was their sin (cf. v. 9), not YHWH's impotence, that caused their demise. YHWH will vindicate His name (cf. Ezek. 36:22-38) by also judging the invading nations (cf. v. 13).
▣ "she will be trampled down,
Like mire of the streets" The CONSTRUCT "mud of the streets" (BDB 376 and 299) is often used as a metaphor of defeat (e.g., II Sam. 22:43; Ps. 18:42; Zech. 10:5), as is "lick the dust" in v. 17 (cf. Isa. 49:23).
7:11 This verse seems to refer to the city of Jerusalem, however, the phrase for "building your walls" (BDB 124 and 154 CONSTRUCT) is not usually used for city walls (cf. Amos 9:11), but for boundary markers (e.g., Isa. 54:11). So, the capital may be a metaphor for all the people of God.
The "walls of the city" was a way of referring to its security. YHWH will restore His people's land and confidence in Himself.
7:12 "they will come to you" There have been three major theories as to how to interpret this verse: (1) the Jews returning home from the Exile; (2) all the nations coming with tribute to the restored people of God; and (3) Israel's ideal boundaries.
7:13 "On the account of the fruit of their deeds" Outside of the Promised Land, there will be judgment and calamity because of the nation's sins (as there was in Canaan because of Israel's sin, cf. v. 9). Sin has results (cf. Rom. 8:19-22).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:7:14-20
14"Shepherd Your people with Your scepter,
The flock of Thy possession
Which dwells by itself in the woodland,
In the midst of a fruitful field.
Let then feed in Bashan and Gilead
As in the days of old.
15As in the days when you came out from the land of Egypt,
I will show you miracles."
16Nations will see and be ashamed
Of all their might.
They will put their hand on their mouth,
Their ears will be deaf.
17They will lick the dust like a serpent,
Like reptiles of the earth.
They will come trembling out of their fortresses;
To the Lord our God they will come in dread,
And they will be afraid before Thee.
18Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity
And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in unchanging love.
19He will again have compassion on us;
He will tread our iniquities underfoot.
Yes, Thou wilt cast all their sins
Into the depths of the sea.
20Thou will give truth to Jacob
And unchanging love to Abraham,
Which thou didst swear to our forefathers
From the days of old.
7:14 "Shepherd Your people with Your scepter" The VERB (BDB 944 I, KB 1258) is a Qal IMPERATIVE. This last section of the book is a prayer addressed to the Covenant God. The hope of v. 7 is expanded! Here is a combination of the shepherd metaphor and the kingly metaphor (cf. Ps. 23 also Isa. 40:11; Micah 2:12; 4:6-7; 5:4; Zech. 9:16). God is both Shepherd and King. The word "scepter" (BDB 986) can refer to a royal scepter or a shepherd's rod.
NASB"Which dwells by itself"
NKJV"who dwell solitarily"
NRSV"which lives alone"
TEV"although they live apart"
Is this a metaphor of
1. confinement, NJB
2. unity, NKJV
NASB"a fruitful land"
NRSV"a garden land"
This term (BDB 502) can refer to (1) a good pasture land (i.e., parallel to Bashan and Gilead); (2) a forest (e.g., Isa. 10:18; 29:17; 32: 15); or (3) Mt. Carmel (known for its fertility) is found in the Septuagint, Peshitta, and Vulgate translations.
▣ "Let them feed" This VERB (BDB 944 I, KB 1258, Qal IMPERFECT, but JUSSIVE in meaning) is from the same root as "Shepherd" (v. 1 line 1). The sense of the plan of v. 14 is that the people were confined, but now freed, as they were in the Exodus by YHWH's power!
▣ "As in the days of old" This is an idiom for covenant renewal (cf. Isa. 63:11; Amos 9:11). It refers to the beginning of the nation at the Exodus.
7:15 God reminds them of His historical acts on their behalf (cf. Neh. 9:9-14 [Exodus]; 15-21 [wilderness wanderings]; 22-25 [the conquest of Canaan]). He urges them to remember His wonderful provisions during the wilderness wandering period (cf. Exodus - Numbers), which was also a period of judgment.
7:16 The nations who confronted God's people were humbled (i.e., "put their hands on their mouth," e.g., Jdgs. 18:19; Job 21:5; 29:9; 40:4). It will be so again because His renewed covenant people go forth in His power and presence (cf. Psalm 2).
7:17-18 The Tyndale Commentary, vol. 23A, has an interesting comparison between God's deliverance at the Red Sea (expressed in Moses' song) and Micah's victory praise (p. 203):
1. "tremble" (BDB 919), Exod. 15:14 and Micah 7:17
2. "dread" (BDB 808), Exod. 15:16 and Micah 7:17
3. immobility caused by fear, Exod. 15:16 and Micah 7:16 (different term)
4. God's mighty acts, Exod. 15:11 and Micah 7:15 (different term)
5. Israel as God's inheritance (BDB 635), Exod. 15:17 and Micah 7:14,18
6. same rhetorical question, Exod. 15:11, "who is like Thee" and Micah 7:18, "who is like Thee"
7. enemies cast into the sea, Exod. 15:1,4-5 and Micah 7:19
Bruce Waltke adds, "Moses' song looked back upon the Lord's victory, Micah's song looks forward in faith to an even great wonder" (p. 203).
7:17 "They will lick the dust like a serpent,
Like reptiles of the earth" There are two basic possibilities: (1) kissing the victor's feet (cf. Ps. 72:9; Isa. 49:23) or (2) unclean animals (cf. Gen. 3:14; Lev. 11). This was a Hebrew idiom of military defeat.
The question is whether this verse (1) simply records the fear of the nations in light of YHWH's power and love for Israel or (2) describes the conversion of the nations. In context option #1 fits best, but in light of the NT option #2 fits best. At this point please see the SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN at Micah 5:7-9.
7:18 "Who is a God like You" This refers to the graciousness of God and is a play on the prophet's name, which means "who is like YHWH" (cf. Exod. 34:6-7; Deut. 7:9; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 103:8-10; Joel 2:13).
▣ "who pardons" This common Hebrew VERB (BDB 669, KB 724, Qal PARTICIPLE) has the connotations of (1) to lift up (e.g., 4:1); (2) to carry (e.g., 6:16; 7:9); (3) to take away (e.g., 2:2); and (4) to pardon (e.g., Hos. 1:6; 14:2). There is a series of phrases in v. 18 which describe God's graciousness and forgiveness (cf. Ps. 103:12; Isa. 1:18; 38:17; 43:25; 44:22). When God forgives, God forgets!
The parallel VERB "passes over" (BDB 716, KB 778, Qal PARTICIPLE) means "to pass over," "to pass through" (e.g., 2:13; Amos 5:17) in the sense of "to overlook" (i.e., out of sight, out of mind, cf. v. 19). This same VERB is used in Amos 7:8 and 8:2 in a judgment sense. Only here and in Prov. 19:22 does it have the sense of forgiveness.
▣ The UBS Translator's Handbook on the Books of Obadiah and Micah points out that several Hebrew words for sin are used in vv. 18-19:
1. iniquity (BDB 730, i.e., to twist)
2. transgression (BDB 833, i.e., to rebel)
3. sins (BDB 308, i.e., to miss the mark)
The point being that all of the covenant people's covenant violations are forgiven (p. 191).
▣ "the remnant" this is a recurrent theme (cf. 2:12; 4:7; 5:7,8).
▣ "He does not retain His anger forever" The VERB (BDB 304, KB 302, Hiphil PERFECT) means "to take hold of so as to retain" (cf. Exod. 9:2). This is an anthropomorphic phrase which describes God as a parent who punishes His children, but does not reject them and longs to restore fellowship (cf. Ps. 103:8).
NASB"He delights in unchanging love"
NKJV"He delights in mercy"
NRSV"He delights in showing clemency"
TEV"you take pleasure in showing your constant love"
NJB"he delights in showing faithful love"
The VERB (BDB 342, KB 339, Qal PERFECT) is also used in Jer. 9:24 and Hosea 6:6. It is important to know what the Lord "delights" in (and does not, cf. Ezek. 18:23,32; 33:11).
The term "unchanging love" (BDB 338 I) is hesed, which is also found in 6:8; 7:18,20; Hosea 2:19; 4:1; 6:4,6; 10:12; 12:6; and Jonah 2:8; 4:2.
This is the Hebrew covenant word hesed again. It means God's unconditional covenant loyalty. See Special Topic at Hosea 2:19.
7:19 This is a series of metaphors for forgiveness followed by forgetfulness. When God forgives, He forgets (cf. Isa. 1:18; 38:17; 43:25; 44:22; Ps. 103:8-14). Out of sight, out of mind! What a great promise. Many believers have experienced God's forgiveness, but not His forgetfulness!
NASB, NRSV"He will tread our iniquities underfoot"
NKJV"And will subdue our iniquities"
TEV"You will trample our sins underfoot"
NJB"tread down our faults"
This VERB (BDB 461, KB 460, Qal IMPERFECT) basically means "subdue" (e.g., Gen. 1:25) or "bring into bondage" (e.g., Jer. 34:11,16; Neh. 5:5). Here it is used figuratively of the defeat and vanquishment of believers' sins.
7:20 "truth. . .unchanging love" The two characteristics of YHWH are to be reproduced in His people. "Truth" (BDB 54) in the OT implies trustworthiness or faithfulness (see Special Topic at Jonah 3:5). The second is hesed (BDB 338 I) or covenant faithfulness (see Special Topic at Hosea 2:19). God will produce a people of righteousness (i.e., not by performance, cf. Jer. 31:31-34, as in the OT, but by His mercy and grace, cf. Ezek. 36:22-38, as in the NT).
▣ "Jacob. . .Abraham. . .our forefathers" There was a relationship between God and His people that was unique in its promises and in its obligations. Verses 18-20, along with the book of Jonah, were read on the Day of Atonement in the Synagogue. On the afternoon of New Years day Orthodox Jews go to a place of running water and empty their pockets while reciting vv. 18-20. This is called Tashlich or "thou will cast." It emphasizes not only the covenant responsibility (i.e., removal of all sin), but also the mercy of God!
The theological issue in this conclusion is not God's gracious character, but the shocking addition of a new covenant in Christ (cf. John 14:6). Is Israel saved by covenant obedience or by restoration to Judah? The real issue is the validity of the new message of Jesus (cf. Rom. 2:28-29; 9-11; Gal. 3; 6:16).
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.
1. Is this chapter written for an individual or for a member of the corporate community?
2. Define the Hebrew word hesed.
3. Explain the contrast between vv. 7 and 8 and vv. 1-6.
4. Why is the question of v. 10 so important in light of the condition of the people of God?
5. List the gracious characteristics of God in vv. 18 and 19.
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