1 [The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.]
2 Hear, all you people. Listen, O earth and all who are therein. Let the Lord GOD be witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.
3 For behold, the LORD comes forth from his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.
4 And the mountains shall be melted under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire and as the waters that are poured down a steep place.
5 "All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what are the high places of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem?
6 Therefore, I will make Samaria as a heap of the field and as plantings of a vineyard. And I will pour down her stones into the valley and lay her foundations bare.
7 And all her engraved images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with the fire, and all her idols I will lay desolate, for she gathered it from the payment of a harlot, and they shall return to the payment of a harlot."
8 Therefore, I will wail and howl. I will go stripped and naked. I will make a wailing like the jackals and mourning as the owls.
9 For her wound is incurable, and it has come to Judah. He has come to the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.
10 Do not declare it at Gath. Do not weep at all. In the house of Aphrah roll yourself in the dust.
11 Pass away, you inhabitant of Saphir, having your shame exposed. The inhabitant of Zaanan did not come forth in the mourning of Beth-ezel. He shall receive from you his standing.
12 For the inhabitant of Maroth waited anxiously for good, but evil came down from the LORD to the gate of Jerusalem.
13 O inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast. She is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion, for the transgressions of Israel were found in you.
14 Therefore, you shall give presents to Moresheth-gath. The houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel.
15 Yet I will bring an heir to you, O inhabitant of Mareshah. He shall come to Adullam the glory of Israel.
16 Make yourself bald and shave yourself for the children of your delight. Enlarge your baldness as the eagle, for they have gone into captivity from you.
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
This chapter treats of the judgments of God on Israel and Judah for their idolatry. It begins with the title of the whole book in which is given an account of the prophet, the time of his prophesying, and of the persons against whom he prophesied (verse 1); next a preface to this chapter, requiring attention to what was about to be delivered, urged from the consideration of the awful appearance of God, which is represented as very grand and terrible (verses 2-4); the cause of all which wrath that appeared in him was the transgression of Jacob; particularly their idolatry, as appears by the special mention of their idols and engraved images in the account of their destruction (verses 5-7); which destruction is exaggerated by the prophet's lamentation for it (verses 8-9); and by the mourning of the inhabitants of the various places that should be involved in it, which are particularly mentioned (verses 10-16).
[v.1a] - "Micah" - From the Hebrew word מיכה, Miykah (mee-kaw'), which means, "who is like God."
[v.1b] - "Samaria and Jerusalem" - Reference, verse 5.
[v.3a] - "the LORD comes forth from his place, and will come down" - That is, God will come down from his place, the temple, which was set upon a high and elevated spot on mount Zion. From John Calvin's Commentary: "But why is going forth here ascribed to God? Because the Jews had abused the forbearance of God in worshiping him with vain ceremonies in the temple; and at the same time they thought that they had escaped from his hand. As long then as God spared them, they thought that he was, as it were, bound to them, because he dwelt among them. Besides, as the legal and shadowy worship prevailed among them, they imagined that God rested in their temple. But now the Prophet says, 'He will go forth: you have wished hitherto to confine God to the tabernacle, and you have attempted to pacify him with your frivolous puerilities: but you shall know that his hand and his power extend much further: he shall therefore come and show what that majesty is which has been hitherto a derision to you.'"
[v.3b] - "the high places of the earth" - That is, well fortified places. The idea is that there would be no place, even if well fortified, to go to be safe from God's vengeance. This also refers to those who are wealthy, powerful, and in authority, for they, in error, saw themselves exempt from God's vengeance because of their elevated pride and sense of superiority.
[v.4] - There are two similes here mentioned. When reading this verse, connect the mountains to the wax, and the valleys to the waters. The mountains will be like melting wax, and the valleys will be like the waters poured down a steep place. From John Calvin's Commentary: "Since God is said to melt the mountains with his presence, let us hence learn to rouse up all our feelings whenever God comes forth, not that we may flee to a distance from him, but that we may reverently receive his word, so that he may afterward appear to us a kind and reconciled Father. For when we become humble, and the pride and height of our flesh is subdued, he then immediately receives us, as it were, into his gentle bosom, and gives us an easy access to him; he even invites us to himself with all possible kindness. That the Lord then may thus kindly receive us, let us learn to fear as soon as he utters his voice: but let not this fear make us to flee away, but only humble us, so that we may render true obedience to the word of the Lord."
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 1-5:
Grant, Almighty God, that, since to a perverse, and in every way a rebellious people, you formerly showed so much grace, as to exhort them continually to repentance, and to stretch forth your hand to them by your Prophets,— O grant, that the same word may sound in our ears; and when we do not immediately profit by your teaching, O cast us not away, but, by your Spirit, so subdue all our thoughts and affections, that we, being humbled, may give glory to your majesty, such as is due to you, and that, being allured by your paternal favor, we may submit ourselves to you, and, at the same time, embrace that mercy which you offer and present to us in Christ, that we may not doubt but you will be a Father to us, until we shall at length enjoy that eternal inheritance, which has been obtained for us by the blood of your only-begotten Son. Amen.
[v.7] - All of the wealth of Samaria would be destroyed because it was gained by illegitimate means, that is, by idolatry. The wages of a harlot are an abomination to God (Deuteronomy 23:18), and therefore, they will vanish as if consumed by fire.
[v.11a] - "Saphir" - The word Saphir (saf-eer'), means beautiful, fair, splendid. So, those who inhabit the city called Fair, Beautiful, Splendid, will pass through in shame, or naked and in disgrace. Instead of being in a splendid condition, they would be in a deplorable condition.
[v.11b] - "He shall receive from you his standing" - In other words, "he shall follow your example" (John Owen).
[v.13a] - "the swift beast" - This could refer to either the horse (most likely), dromedary (also likely), or mule.
[v.13b] - "She is the beginning of the sin, etc." - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The citizens of Lachish were then, no doubt, the first who had embraced the corruptions of Jeroboam, and had thus departed from the pure worship of God. When, therefore, contagion had entered that city, it crept, by degrees, into neighboring places, until at length, as we find, the whole kingdom of Judah had become corrupt: and this is what the Prophet repeats more fully in other places. It was not then without reason that he denounces desolation here on the citizens of Lachish; for they had been the authors of sin to their own kindred. However alienated the ten tribes had become from pure faith and pure worship, the kingdom of Judah remained still upright, until Lachish opened the door to ungodly superstitions; and then its superstitions spread through the whole of Judea."
[v.15] - "an heir" - Or, "him who will possess you."
[v.16a] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The Prophet at length concludes that nothing remained for the people but lamentation; for the Lord had resolved to desolate and destroy the whole country."
[v.16b] - "the children of your delight" - Or, "the children of your luxuries."
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 6-16:
Grant, Almighty God, that, being warned by so many examples, the record of which you have designed to continue to the end of the world, that we may learn how dreadful a judge you are to the perverse,— O grant, that we may not, at this day, be deaf to your teaching, which is conveyed to us by the mouth of your Prophet, but that we may strive to be so reconciled to you, that, passing by all men, we may present ourselves unreservedly to you, so that, relying on your mercy alone which you have promised to us in Christ, we may not doubt but you will be propitious to us, and be so touched with the spirit of true penitence, that, if we have been to others a bad example and an offense, we may lead others to the right way of salvation, and each of us may so endeavor to assist our neighbors in a holy life, that we may together attain that blessed and celestial life, which your only-begotten Son has procured for us by his own blood. Amen.