Charles Simeon Commentary - Micah 7:8 - 7:10

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Micah 7:8 - 7:10

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Mic_7:8-10. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness. Then she that is mine enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her which said unto me, Where is the Lord thy God? Mine eyes shall behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets.

IT is a matter of general complaint, that the minor prophets are difficult to be understood: and this is true to a considerable extent: but we apprehend that it arises very much from our not sufficiently bearing in mind the subjects on which they wrote. We do right in looking for many things applicable to the Messiah, and to his Church and kingdom: but we err in not having more respect to the Jewish Church as it existed in the times when the prophets wrote; and as it shall exist at a period yet future, when that people shall be gathered in from their present dispersion, and be restored to their own land. We complain that we cannot unlock those Scriptures; but we neglect to take the key that alone will fit the wards. If we kept the Jews more in view, many of the difficulties would vanish; and innumerable beauties would be seen in passages that are now passed over as devoid of interest. We believe verily that the day is fast approaching, in which “God will shew them marvellous things,” not a whit inferior to those which he wrought for them when he brought them out of Egypt [Note: ver. 15.]: and it is their privilege to be looking forward to that period, with earnest and assured expectation of the blessings prepared for them. In the prospect of that period, the Jewish Church is represented by the prophet as consoling herself with the reflections which we have just read: in our further consideration of which we shall notice,

I.       The address of the Jewish Church to her enemies—

Bitter in the extreme was the enmity of many surrounding nations against the Jews; far more bitter, we apprehend, than in any of them against each other. The favours conferred upon the Jewish nation by Jehovah, and the entire separation of the Jews from all other people by the ordinances of their religion, tended to call forth this enmity, and to keep it, as it were, in continual exercise. In like manner at the present day, when they have ceased to exist in their national character, and are blended with the different nations where they dwell, they are still hated, and despised above any other people upon earth. This, no doubt, is a judgment inflicted on them for their murder of their Messiah: and under their present sufferings they may well adopt the language of our text. It is the language,

1.       Of deep submission—

[Great were the iniquities of the Jewish people at the time that the prophet wrote [Note: ver. 2–6.]; and heavy were the judgments which God inflicted on them in Babylon on account of them. But far greater is the guilt which they have contracted in rejecting their Messiah, and in crucifying the Lord of glory. For this they have been punished now these seventeen hundred years, and been made a bye-word and a hissing amongst all nations. Under these circumstances, what will be the reflections of a pious Jew? He will say, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him.” Indeed, this, we apprehend, is, in words at least, the language of the Jews at this time generally, or perhaps universally, through the world. It is on account of their sinfulness that they suppose God has not yet sent them the Messiah that was promised to them so long ago, and who, but for their wickedness, would have come to them at the appointed time: and they submit to the dispensations of God towards them from this very consideration, that they are not yet in a state fit to receive his promised mercies. This is a favourable circumstance for their future conversion: and when this submission to the Divine chastisements shall be accompanied with suitable penitence and contrition, their deliverance will be speedily vouchsafed.]

2.       Of patient hope—

[As the Edomites, the Ammonites, and others, formerly exulted over Jerusalem, and rejoiced in her calamities, so at this time her enemies regarded her as forsaken by her God, and doomed to interminable degradation. But the believing Jew knows that God has not forgotten to be gracious; nor so far shut up his loving-kindness in displeasure, as to be merciful to him no more. He knows, that even in the midst of all his troubles God is able to support and comfort him, and that in due season he will interpose to rescue his people from their oppressors. Hence he “encourages himself in the Lord his God;” and comforts himself with the hope, that, though his night of sorrow may be long and dreary, there is a morning of joy awaiting him, when he shall “put off his sackcloth, and gird him with gladness.”]

3.       Of joyful assurance—

[The Scriptures everywhere denounce the heaviest judgments on those who oppress the Jews, and who shall labour to obstruct their future restoration. Their enemies will be as incapable of offering to them any effectual opposition, as Pharaoh and his armies were of preventing the departure of their forefathers from the land of Egypt. Their enemies will indeed gather together for the purpose of preventing their re-establishment in their own land: but they will be only as “sheaves” collected into the barn “to be threshed out by men, or trodden out” by oxen [Note: Mic_4:11-13.]. Before them their adversaries will be only as sheep before the devouring lion [Note: Mic_5:8-9.]. An universal terror will seize on them, such as filled the Canaanites when Joshua invaded and subdued their land [Note: ver. 16. 17.]. Though they appear weak and contemptible as a worm, yet says God to them, “Fear not, thou worm Jacob; thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and make the hills as chaff; thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel [Note: Isa_41:14-16.].” To this period the believing Jew may look forward with confidence, assured that his present degradation shall be more than equalled by his future exaltation [Note: Isa_49:24-26; Isa_51:21-23.].]

But if we would improve this passage aright, we must consider,

II.      The lessons it teaches to the Church of God in all ages—

The Church of Christ bears a strong resemblance to the state of the Jewish Church: it is hated and despised by an ungodly world: it is “a speckled bird; and all the birds round about are against her [Note: Jer_12:9.].” All who truly follow the Lord Jesus, and “walk as he walked,” are “for signs and for wonders;” “nor can they live godly in Christ Jesus without suffering persecution.”

But from the address of the Jewish Church they may learn,

1.       Submission to God’s chastisements—

[From whatever quarter our trials may come, we should view the hand of God in them, and receive them as from him. We must always however distinguish between the inflictions of judicial wrath, and the chastisements of paternal love. As a Father, God chastens his most beloved children: and they can never err in saying, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him.” When Shimei cursed David, and Abishai desired permission to go and inflict on him the punishment he deserved, David would not suffer it, but with holy meekness submitted to the indignity, saying, “Let him alone; and let him curse: for the Lord hath bidden him [Note: 2Sa_16:7-11.].” It is surprising what composure this will bring into the mind amidst all the sufferings that can be inflicted on us. The consideration that they are sent by a wise and gracious God will reconcile us to them: but the thought of their being chastisements for sin, and means of purifying us from our corruption, will make us to “kiss the rod, and to say, “It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good.”Let us only see that he is “chastening us for our profit, and however we may, under the pressure of our anguish, deprecate the dispensation, we shall from our inmost souls refer ourselves to his all-wise disposal, saying, “Not my will, but thine be done.”]

2.       Hope in his mercy—

[However severely God may see fit to chastise his people, there are two things which he gives them for their support; namely, a sense of his presence with them in their affliction, and the prospect of a happy issue out of it. They may, by reason of his dispensations, “sit for a time in darkness: but he will be a light unto them.” They may, like St. Paul, be “troubled on every side; yet shall not be so distressed” as not to know what to do: they may be “perplexed; but shall not be in despair:” they may be “persecuted; but shall not be forsaken; and cast down, but shall not be destroyed [Note: 2Co_4:8-9.].” He will “hide them, as it were, in his pavilion,” or rather, as it is yet more beautifully expressed, “in the secret of his presence;” so that, though in the fire, they shall not be burned; and though in the lion’s den, they shall not be hurt. Besides, when his dispensations have produced their desired effect, he, as a refiner watching over the vessels which he has put into the furnace, will take them out, and shew that they have been purified by means of it, and have lost nothing in it but their dross. Under our afflictions the ungodly are ready to triumph over us, and to conclude, that God is visiting us in anger for some iniquity, which, though hidden from men, has been seen by him: but he will appear for us in due season, and “bring forth our righteousness as the noon-day.” Thus he did for David, under all his persecutions from Saul: thus he did also for his only dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, when he raised him from the dead: and thus he will do for all who put their trust in him. If we only “humble ourselves under his mighty hand, he will in due season lift us up, to our greater comfort, and to the everlasting honour of his own name.]

3.       An assured expectation of final victory—

[Even in this life the enemies of his people are often put to shame, and constrained, as Job’s friends were, to confess that they had erred in judgment respecting us. But O! what shame will seize them in the last day, when they shall see those whom they once despised and persecuted for their religion, openly acknowledged by their Lord as good and faithful servants; and they themselves be bidden to depart from his presence, and to take their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone! Then will “their day come;” and “the righteous shall see it: they shall sit as assessors with Christ in judgment, and shall approve of the sentence denounced against them. Such is the honour reserved for all the saints. “No weapon that is formed against them shall prosper; but every tongue that rises against them in judgment shall they condemn [Note: Isa_54:17.].” Sooner or later will justice be administered both to the friends and enemies of Jehovah; and that which is spoken by the prophet, be verified in all its extent; “Behold, my servants shall eat; but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink; but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice; but ye shall be ashamed: behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart; but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit [Note: Isa_65:13-14.].” Well may this prospect compose the minds of all God’s afflicted people; and well may they be contented to go on their way weeping for a season, when they have a prospect of such a harvest, and an assurance of bringing with them such sheaves into the garner of their God.]