1 Now gather yourself in troops, O daughter of troops. He has laid siege against us. They shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.
2 "But you, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you he shall come forth to me who is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
3 Therefore, he will give them up until the time that she who travails has brought forth. Then the remnant of his brothers shall return to the children of Israel.
4 And he will stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall abide, for now he will be great to the ends of the earth.
5 And this one will be peace. When the Assyrian comes into our land and treads in our palaces, we shall raise against him seven shepherds and eight principal men.
6 And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword and the land of Nimrod in its entrances. Thus he will deliver us from the Assyrian when he comes into our land and treads within our borders.
7 And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, which do not wait for man, nor delay for the sons of men.
8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goes through, both treads down and tears in pieces, and no one can deliver.
9 Your hand shall be lifted up upon your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.
10 "And it shall come to pass in that day," says the LORD, "that I will cut off your horses out of the midst of you and destroy your chariots.
11 And I will cut off the cities of your land, and throw down all your strongholds.
12 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of your hand, and you shall have no more soothsayers.
13 Your engraved images I will also cut off, and your standing images out of the midst of you, and you shall no longer worship the work of your hands.
14 And I will pluck up your groves out of the midst of you. Thus I will destroy your cities.
15 And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen who have not heard."
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
This chapter begins with a prophecy of the siege of Jerusalem (verse 1); and then follows another concerning the place of the Messiah's birth, (verse 2); and of the case of the Jews, either before or after it (verse 3); and of Christ's office as a shepherd, and of his grandeur in the world (verse 4); and of his being a peacemaker, and protector of his people from their enemies (verses 5-6); and of his people, the great increase of them, and their usefulness, and also of their courage, strength, and prowess (verses 7-9); likewise that the Lord will remove from them their vain confidence, and all occasion of it, and whatever illicit arts and practices were found among them; and all idolatry, and the instruments of it (verses 10-14); and the chapter is concluded with a threatening of vengeance to the Heathens (verse 15).
[v.1] - "Now gather yourself in troops, O daughter of troops" - "The daughter of a band or a troop means a military power, which collects bands or troops for warlike purposes. It is certainly more obvious to apply this to the Babylonian power than to Jerusalem, especially as the next line, 'Laying against us a siege,' necessarily refers to the latter." —John Owen
[v.2a] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "But what need there is of distorting the words of the Prophet, as it was not the design of the Evangelist (i.e., Matthew) to relate the expressions of the Prophet, but only to point out the passage. As to the words, Matthew had regards to the condition of the town Bethlehem, such as it was at the coming of Christ. It then indeed began to be eminent: but the Prophet represents here how ignoble and mean a place Bethlehem then was, 'Thou,' he says, 'art the least among the thousands of Judah.'" John Owen adds here, "Matthew quotes literally neither the Hebrew nor the Septuagint version. The latter, in this case, agrees with the former. He gives the sense, but not the words, even in two instances besides this. Instead of 'Ephratah,' he has, 'in the land of Judah;' and instead of 'Ruler,' he has, 'Governor that shall rule,' or feed. The meaning in these three instances is the same, though the words are different."
[v.2b] - "ruler" - Or, "Ruler," that is, Christ. Reference, Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 9:6-7; Ezekiel 34:23-24, 37:22-25; Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 28:18; Luke 1:31-33; Revelation 17:14, 19:16.
[v.2c] - Quoted in Matthew 2:6.
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 4:11-5:2:
Grant, Almighty God, that as we do not cease to provoke your wrath against us, and as it is needful for us to be often chastised by your hand, that we may be humbled and learn to submit ourselves to you in true and willing obedience,— O grant, that we do not faint under your scourges, but ever raise up our minds to the hope of deliverance, which you give to us through our Mediator; whom you have once for all sent into the world, that you might through him reconcile us to yourself, and through whom also you bring help whenever we need it: and may we at the same time learn to rely on your only-begotten Son, so that with courageous minds we may pass through all the miseries of this world, and never at any time grow weary, until having at length obtained the victory, we come to that blessed rest and enjoy the fruit of our victory, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
[v.3] - "remnant" - Reference, 1st Kings 19:18; Isaiah 10:22; Romans 9:27, 11:1-7.
[v.4a] - "And he shall stand" - Micah is still speaking of Christ.
[v.4b] - "and feed" - That is, feed his flock. From John Calvin's Commentary: "As to the word 'feed,' it no doubt expresses what Christ is to his people, to the flock committed to him and to his care. Christ then rules not in his Church as a dreaded tyrant, who distresses his subjects with fear; but he is a Shepherd who gently deals with his flock. Nothing therefore can exceed the kindness and gentleness of Christ towards the faithful, as he performs the office of a Shepherd: and he prefers to be adorned with this, title, rather than to be called and deemed a kings, or to assume authority to himself." Reference, Ezekiel, ch. 34; John 10:11, 14.
[v.4c] - "in the strength of the LORD" - "Let us hence learn that no less safety is to be expected from Christ, than there is of power in God." —John Calvin
[v.5a] - "And this one will be peace" - In other words, this man (the one spoken of in verses 2-4) will be peace, that is, our peace. Several translations use either "he," or "this man," but the Hebrew does not assign gender; however, gender assignment is implied based on the context. This passage can be understood as, "And Christ will be our peace." Reference, Isaiah 9:6-7; Zechariah 9:10; John 14:27, 16:33; Ephesians 2:14-17; Colossians 1:20-21.
[v.5b] - "principal men" - Literally, "princes of men."
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 3-6:
Grant, Almighty God, that as you have from the beginning so defended your Church, that you have never wholly forsaken her, and though it had nearly rejected you by its defections, yet it has been your pleasure to stand firm to your covenant, and to show to it your favor through all ages, until at length the everlasting Redeemer of the whole world appeared,— O grant, that we may experience the same favor at this day, and though we have in various ways provoked your wrath against us, yet you so humble us, that you may sustain us by your word; and may we so recumb on those promises which we find in Scripture, that we may at length by our patience overcome our enemies, and in patience possess our souls, until you raise up your hand, and show that invincible power which you have given to your only-begotten Son, that he might repress the devil and all the wicked, and preserve us safe and secure from all injuries. Amen.
[v.7] - "which do not wait for man, nor delay for the sons of men" - From John Gill's Exposition: "This seems to be connected with the dew, though it agrees with both dew and rain, which do not delay for men's desires or merits, but descend according to the will of God." From the Pulpit Commentary: "This refers to the dew, which is wholly the gift of God, and is not artificially supplied by man's labor."
[v.8] - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "As [the remnant (i.e., the Church)] shall be silent, and gentle, and communicative of all good, to those who receive the truth in the love of it, so they shall be bold as a lion in witnessing against the corruptions of the times and places they live in, and strong as a lion, in the strength of God, to resist and overcome their spiritual enemies. The weapons of their warfare are mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strongholds (2nd Corinthians 10:4-5)."
[v.10-15] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "There is introduced here a most necessary admonition, in order that the faithful may know, how they are to be preserved by the hand and favor of God, even when they shall be stripped of all their helps, and even when God shall take away all those impediments, which would otherwise close up the way against his favor. The sum of the whole then is,— that the Church shall not otherwise be saved by God's kindness than by being deprived of all her strength and defenses, and also by having her obstacles removed by God, even those which in a manner prevented his hand from being put forth to save his people. For the Prophet mentions here cities, then fortified places, he mentions horses and chariots. These, we know, are not in themselves to be condemned: but he means, that as the people foolishly placed confidence in earthly things, the salvation of God could not otherwise come to them than by stripping them of all vain and false confidence. This is one thing. Then, on the other hand, he mentions groves, he mentions carved images and statues, he mentions augurs and diviners: these were corruptions, which closed the door against the favor of God; for a people, given to idolatry, could not call upon God nor hope in him as the author of salvation. We now then perceive the Prophet's design."
[v.14] - "your cities" - This may also be rendered, "your enemies." From John Calvin's Commentary: "The door was closed against God, so that he could bring no aid to his Church, and deliver it from enemies, as long as it held to false confidence, and was attached to the filth of idolatry, which was still worse."
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 7-15:
Grant, Almighty God, that since you so kindly invite us to yourself, and promise that your aid should never be lacking to us, provided we do not close the door against you,— O grant, that though many earthly benefits may be granted to us, we may not yet trust in them and depart from you, but, on the contrary, recumb on your grace only: and then should it happen to us to be deprived of all helps, that our minds may be awakened, and that we may thus learn to hasten to you, may nothing impede our course, that we may not, with the greatest haste and ardent desire, long to deliver up and devote ourselves wholly to you, that we may be made safe under the care and protection of your only-begotten Son, whom you have appointed to be the guardian of our safety. Amen.