Mic_7:7. I will look unto the Lord; 1 will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.
IF we mark the discriminating character of the Lord’s people, we shall find, that from the beginning of the world it has consisted in this: The ungodly “call not upon God [Note: Psa_14:4.];” but the “godly are a people near unto him [Note: Psa_148:14.].” Abraham, the father of the faithful, built an altar to God in every place where he abode. Moses, David, and all the saints, familiarized themselves with God, if I may so speak; and carried their every want to him, as their Father and their Friend. The Prophet Micah, in his own conduct, well illustrates this. The awful state of the world around him he declares in very pathetic terms; crying, in the view of it, “Woe is me [Note: ver. 1.]!” And having represented this with the fidelity that became him, he declares, with no common measure of complacency, the manner in which he proposed to occupy his mind: “Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me:” that is, the more others depart from God, the more will I seek his face.
From these words I shall take occasion to shew,
In what circumstances the godly are placed—
St. John expresses in one word all that can be said: “We are of God; and the whole world lieth in wickedness [Note: 1Jn_5:19.].” To the same effect, the prophet here speaks of the godly, as living in a world,
Where iniquity abounds—
[So universal was the reign of sin in Jud
a, that scarcely was a person of real piety to be found. And what is the state of things at this day? Is there not occasion for the same lamentation now? If you go into any place where the Gospel is not preached with power, and wish to refresh your spirit with the society of those who are truly alive to God, will you not find yourselves like a person in a vineyard after that the fruits have been gathered, where he can scarcely obtain a cluster to satisfy his longing appetite? There is nothing but a small remnant to which he can get access; and that, alas! of stinted growth, and destitute of the luscious flavour with which he had hoped to be regaled. If we look at Christians of more favoured times, it seems as if “the good man had now almost perished from the earth;” so few are there who resemble the saints and martyrs of former ages [Note: ver. 1, 2.].
In the administration of the laws, I confess, we widely differ from the Jews of old. The rich cannot oppress the poor; nor could they, amongst us, find judges corrupt enough to pervert the laws for gain. But in every other species of iniquity all classes of the community will uphold each other; insomuch, that, whether we notice the more refined sensuality of the rich, or the more degrading habits of the vulgar, all have their advocates; all are declared innocent, or treated with indulgent connivance: and “so they wrap it up.” Nothing is suffered to disgust us by its own proper character; but false names are imposed on every thing, to hide from us its deformity, and to give it a title to our regard. Not even palpable wickedness goes unexcused: licentiousness is made to wear the garb of piety; and worldliness of prudence. The rich and the poor, the old and the young, all shall have their appropriate gratifications; and all agree to hold each other innocent. “So (I say again) they wrap it up [Note: ver. 3.].”
And if we take persons of a better character, we shall find, that, however they may wear a good appearance at a distance, as a hedge of thorns or briers may do, the more closely you come in contact with them, the more you are pained by them; “the best of them proving as a brier, and the most upright of them as a thorn-hedge [Note: ver. 4.]:” insomuch that he is really the happiest man who has least dependence on, or, except in a very distant way, communication with, his fellow-man. Such was the state of society in that day: and such, alas! it is at this very hour.]
Where piety is discountenanced—
[At different periods of the Jewish history, it was at the peril of a man’s life to espouse the cause of the God of Israel; so entirely had idolatry superseded the worship of the one true God. At those seasons it was dangerous for a man to “trust his friend, or even the wife of his bosom,” if he was inclined to serve the living God. “A son would rise up against his father, and a daughter against her mother; and a man’s greatest enemies were often those of his own household.”
It is remarkable, that our blessed Lord has cited this very passage, not only as applicable to, but as particularly characteristic of, the dispensation which he came to introduce: “The brother,” says he, “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. For 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; and a man’s foes shall be those of his own household [Note: ver. 5, 6. with Mat_10:21; Mat_10:35-36.].” Such times have been in the very country in which we live: and such they would be again, if popery were to regain its ascendant. Not that we need go back to times of popery for acts of intolerance in reference to religion; for the same hatred of piety exists at the present day: and it not unfrequently happens, that persons are obliged to conceal from their parents, or from those under whom they live, their attachment to the Gospel of Christ; knowing that a disclosure of it would infallibly expose them to hatred and contempt.]
Such, then, are the circumstances under which the godly are placed: and, as they are confessedly arduous, it will be proper for me to shew,
To what measures they should have recourse—
Here the prophet’s example will point out to us the precise line which every Christian should pursue. Mark,
The determination of his mind—
[Difficult as it was to maintain his integrity in such a time as that, he determined to spread his case before the Lord, and to look to him for “strength according to his day.” And, if the Lord should not instantly impart all the succour he could desire, he would “wait for the Lord,” and tarry his leisure, and expect from him all that an indulgent Father can bestow.
Here is the line of conduct which all the godly must pursue. If they attempt to contend with these difficulties in their own strength, they must fail. The direction which God himself gives them is this: “Call upon me in the time of trouble; so I will hear thee; and thou shalt praise me [Note: Psa_50:15.]” What then should we do, but adopt, every one of us for ourselves, the determination of David, saying, “As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall hear me. Evening, and morning, and at noon-day, will I pray, and cry aloud; and he shall hear my voice [Note: Psa_55:16-17.].” Indeed David proposes himself to us as an example in this particular: “My soul,” says he, “wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times, ye people: pour out your hearts before him: God is a refuge for us [Note: Psa_62:5-8.].” In the New Testament, the directions to this effect are numberless: so that we may conclude, that humble, fervent, and persevering prayer is the true remedy for every saint, against all the evils which he either feels or fears.]
The conviction of his soul—
[There is something very imposing in that declaration of the prophet, “My God will hear me.” He speaks not of God’s assistance as a matter of hope, but as what he could not fail of obtaining: so great, so irresistible, was the efficacy of believing prayer. And what says the Apostle John on this subject? “This is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us. And, if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him [Note: 1Jn_5:14-15.].” Nor is this a rash assertion: it is confirmed by actual experience. “I sought the Lord,” says David; “and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. Yes: this poor man cried; and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles [Note: Psa_34:4; Psa_34:6. See also Psa_40:1-3.].” I hesitate not, then, to say to all of you, that this measure shall be crowned with the desired success. “Delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thy heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass: he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noon-day [Note: Psa_37:4-6.].” God may not indeed interpose precisely at the time, or in the manner, that our impatient minds may dictate: but, “though he tarry long, he will come at last [Note: Hab_2:3.];” and in the event will surely shew himself “mighty to save.” “Wait, then, on the Lord, every one of you; and be of good courage; and he will strengthen your heart: wait, I say, upon the Lord [Note: Psa_27:14.].”]
As a further improvement of this subject, learn,
The benefit of trials—
[Trials of every kind are painful to flesh and blood: but they are, in reality, blessings in disguise. See the effect of them on the prophet’s mind. Were they unserviceable to him? Neither shall they be unprofitable to us. I will suppose that they are heavy: yet, if they bring you to God, and God to you, tell me, Have you any cause to complain? — — — God deals with you as a skilful person does with a wheel and engine that is under his controul. He lets down upon it so much water as will accomplish his own purposes; but whatsoever is superfluous, and would injure its movements, he turns off in another course. So does God deal with his people; permitting the wrath of man to prevail against them so far as shall be conducive to their best interests, but restraining the remainder, which would counteract his views [Note: Psa_76:10.]. He has promised, that you shall not be “tempted above that ye are able; but shall, with the temptation, have also a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it [Note: 1Co_10:13.].” And, “if you lose father or mother, houses or lands, for his sake, you shall receive an hundred-fold more in this life, to supply their loss; and in the world to come, eternal life [Note: Mar_10:29-30.].” To exchange the creature for the Creator, need never be to any a subject of regret.]
The blessedness of those who have the Lord for their God—
[The world know not where to go in a time of trouble: but the righteous have God himself for their refuge. Perhaps a person viewing the ungodly in their prosperity, and the poor persecuted prophet in his troubles, would be ready to envy the wicked, and to regard the persecuted saint as an object of compassion. But who that turns aside the veil, and beholds the saint in communion with his God, will be of that opinion? Who that should see God attending to the supplications of his afflicted child, and giving his angels charge concerning him, and sending down the Comforter into his soul, and preparing for him a weight of glory proportioned to his trials, would not rather congratulate the saint, and say, “Blessed is the man whose God is the Lord!” Seek him, then, as your reconciled God in Christ Jesus; and then all things are yours: “whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s [Note: 1Co_3:21-23.].”]