The Book of Micah
Chapter 3 Summarized:
Contents: Coming judgments of the captivities. The priest and the prophets rebuked.
Conclusion: Men cannot expect to do ill and fare well simply because they are recognized as religious. The time will come when those who have shown no mercy shall have judgment without mercy, for God will hide His face when they are sorely in need of His favor.
Key Word: Israel’s sin, v. 8. Strong Verse: v. 4.
Christ Seen: v. 8. Oh, that every ambassador of Christ could utter the words of this verse. It is ours by the promise of Christ—Acts 1:8.
Introduction: What the apostle says of another of the prophets is true of this, who was also his contemporary—“Esaias is very bold,” Rom. 10:20. So, in this chapter, Micah is very bold in reproving and threatening the great men that were the ringleaders in sin; and he gives the reason (v. 8) why he was so bold, because he had commission and instruction from God to say what he said, and was carried out in it by a higher spirit and power than his own. Magistracy and ministry are two great ordinances of God, for good to his church, but these were both corrupted and the intentions of them perverted; and upon those that abused them, and so abused the church with them, the prophet is very severe, and justly so. He gives them their lesson severally, reproving and threatening princes (v. 1-4) and false flattering prophets (v. 5-7). He gives them their lesson jointly, putting them together, as acting in conjunction for the ruin of the kingdom, which they should see the ruins of (v. 9-12).
In this chapter the prophet inveighs with great boldness and spirit against the princes and prophets of Judah; and foretells the destruction of Jerusalem as the consequence of their iniquity. The last verse was fulfilled to a certain extent by Nebuchadnezzar; but most fully and literally by the Romans under Titus.
Prophecy to rulers of Israel and their 8 sins (3:1—3)
Verse 1: And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment?
Princes and prophets, when they faithfully discharge the duty of their office, are to be highly honored above other men; but when they betray their trust, and act contrary to it, they should hear of their faults as well as others, and shall be made to know that there is a God above them, to whom they are accountable; at his bar the prophet here, in his name, arraigns them.
I. Let the princes hear their charge and their doom. The heads of Jacob, and the princes of the house of Israel, are called upon to hear what the prophet has to say to them, v. 1. The word of God has reproofs for the greatest of men, which the ministers of that word ought to apply as there is occasion. The prophet here has comfort in the reflection upon it, that, whatever the success was, he had faithfully discharged his trust:
And I said, Hear, O princes! He had the testimony of his conscience for him that he had not shrunk from his duty for fear of the face of men. He tells them,
1. What was expected from them: Is it not for you to know judgment? He means to do judgment, for otherwise the knowledge of it is of no avail. “Is it not your business to administer justice impartially, but to know judgment, and the merits of every cause?” Or it may be taken for granted that the heads and rulers are well acquainted with the rules of justice, whatever others are; for they have those means of knowledge, and have not those excuses for ignorance, which some others have, that are poor and foolish (Jer. 5:4); and, if so, their transgression of the laws of justice is the more provoking to God, for they sin against knowledge. “Is it not for you to know judgment? Yes, it is; therefore stand still, and hear your own judgment, and judge if it be not right, whether any thing can be objected to it.”
2. How wretchedly they had transgressed the rules of judgment, though they knew what they were. Their principle and disposition are bad: They hate the good and love the evil; they hate good in others, and hate it should have any influence on themselves; they hate to do good, hate to have any good done, and hate those that are good and do good; and they love the evil, delight in mischief. This being their principle, their practice is according to it; they are very cruel and severe towards those that are under their power, and whoever lies at their mercy will find that they have none.
Verse 2--3: Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron
They barbarously devour those whom they should protect, and, as unfaithful shepherds, fleece the flock they should feed; nay, instead of feeding it, they feed upon it, Ezek. 34:2. It is fit indeed that he who feeds a flock should eat of the milk of the flock (1 Co. 9:7), but they will not content with this:
They eat the flesh of my people. It is fit that they should be clothed with the wool, but that will not serve:
They flay the skin from off them, v. 3. By imposing heavier taxes upon them than they can bear, and exacting them with rigor, and fines, and corporal punishments, for pretended crimes, they ruined the estates and families of their subjects, took away from some their lives, from others their livelihoods, and were to their subjects as beasts of prey, rather than shepherds.
They break their bones to come at the marrow, and chop the flesh in pieces as for the pot.” This intimates that they were, (1.) Very ravenous and greedy for themselves, indulging themselves in luxury and sensuality. (2.) Very barbarous and cruel to those that were under them, not caring whom they beggared, so they could but enrich themselves; such evil is the love of money the root of.
Abandoned by God (1:4)
Verse 4: Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.
The corrupt leaders would not listen when those they were persecuting cried out for mercy. How could they expect God to listen to their cry when their judgment finally came? They are not crying out in repentance, but for release from the pain and sorrow they are experiencing.
Judgment on the prophets (3:5—7)
Verse 5: Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him
The false prophets of Israel were those who told the people only what they wanted to hear in order to get the food or pay they desired.
that bite with their teeth—The word “bite” (Heb. nāšaḵ) is always used in the OT for a serpent’s bite, except where it carries the connotation of paying interest on loaned money. The primary meaning (i.e., a serpent’s bite) has led some to understand the phrase as describing false messages given by the prophets. Their lies would be as destructive to Israel as a deadly serpent’s bite. The secondary meaning (i.e., paying interest) could also look to the following phrase, where the false prophets used fear to exact payment from the people.
he that putteth not into their mouths, they . . . prepare war against him—If the false prophets were not paid, they frightened the people with threats of disaster. God would let the disasters come instead on these false prophets.
Verse 6: Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.
Night shall be unto you—Ye shall have no spiritual light, nor will God give you any revelation of his will.
The sun shall go down over the prophets—they prospered for a while, causing the people to err; but they shall also be carried into captivity, and then the sun of their prosperity shall go down for ever, and the very day that gives light and comfort to others, shall be darkness and calamity to them.
Verse 7: Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God.
there is no answer of God—The false prophets would be so ashamed of themselves and so afraid of what was happening that they would not be able to open their mouths again to prophesy. It is interesting to note that Micah never calls these men “false prophets”; he speaks as though they truly had received a vision from God. But prophets in the OT often delivered contradictory messages; the messages were proved either true or false by whether or not they were fulfilled (Deut. 18:22), by a divine sign (1 Kings 18:23, 24), or by the results of the prophecy among the people (Deut. 13:1-3). False prophets gave false messages, perhaps due to political pressure (2 Kings 22:13), personal immorality (Isa. 28:7), greed (Ezek. 13:19), or even confusion (Jer. 14:14). It was even possible that God might deceive a wicked prophet to make things happen according to his will. Although Micah never calls these prophets false; their prophecies do it for him.
Micah contrasted with false prophets (3:8)
Verse 8: But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.
But truly I—In contrast to the false prophets, Micah’s message was directly from God. This would be proven when his prophecies came true. full of power—Micah was filled with the power of God to give God’s message to other people (Luke 1:17; 24:49; Acts 1:8; Rom. 12:6).
judgment . . . to declare unto Jacob his transgression—The false prophets spoke to flatter people; Micah was not afraid to tell the truth of God at any cost (2 Tim. 1:7). He did not promise peace and happiness, but judgment for sin (Isa. 58:1).
Eight sins of the leaders (3:9—12)
Verse 9: Hear 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.
Hear—Micah begins now to tell what will happen when God’s judgment is poured out on the people.
abhor judgment, and pervert all equity—better, “despise justice, and distort all that is right” The Hebrew word for “abhor” or “despise” (tā‛aḇ) is a strong one. It is used to describe Job’s disgust for his “friends” (Job 30:10) and to describe the Psalmist’s disgust for lying (Psa. 119:163).
Verse 10: They build up Zion with blood and Jerusalem with iniquity.
Even the foundations of Jerusalem had been laid on ground saturated with innocent blood. The stately mansions and palaces were built by wealth obtained from condemning innocent people.
Verse 11: The 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.
The heads thereof judge for reward—This does not apply to the regular law officers, who have their proper salaries for giving up their whole time and attention to the conscientious discharge of the duties of their office; but to those who take a reward, who take Bribes, for the perversion of justice; who will decide in favor of those from whom they get the greatest reward.
The prophets—divine for money—these are evidently the false prophets; for none, professing to be sent by God, used any kind of divination.
Yet will they lean upon the Lord—they will prescribe fasts and public thanksgivings, while not one sin is repented of or forsaken, and not one public grievance is redressed.
Is not the Lord among us?—Here is his temple, here are his ordinances, and here are his people. Will he leave these? Yes, he will abandon the whole, because all are polluted
Verse 12: Therefore 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.
Therefore—Because of the sins of the civil and religious leaders recounted in the previous verses, the predicted punishment would become a reality.
Zion . . . plowed as a field—this verse is quoted in Jeremiah 26:18. The Talmud records that when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans under Titus, the General of the Army, Terentium Rufus, tore up the foundations of the temple with a ploughshare.
The following material were used in the
preparation of these notes:
Quick Verse 2005: Matthew Henry's commentary, New Commentary on the whole Bible.
E-Source: Barn's notes
Bible Explore 4 (downloaded version): Stong's Hebrew-Greek, ISBE,
All Bible text is from the King James Version
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