Mic 6: "Yahweh pleads with His people, but will also
administer chastisement. The prophet becomes the advocate of Yahweh in His
controversy with the people. He presses the matter as in a court case with
prosecution, witnesses and defence. Inanimate nature -- the symbols of divine
power and permanency -- are called upon to testify to His righteousness and the
spiritual decadence of Israel (cp Mic 1:2). So the Word reveals:  Yahweh's
indictment of His people: vv 1-5.  The Defence: we have obeyed the law: vv
6,7. The people shelter behind the legalism of the Law and ask what more does
Yahweh require!  The Prosecution: what is required: v 8.  Yahweh's
indignant indictment: vv 9-12. The prosecution council tries to awaken the
conscience of the people by a series of questions.  The Penalty: vv 13-15.
The charges are proven, and the penalty is now pronounced.  The Summing-up: v
16. The first part of the verse corresponds to vv 10-12; the second part to vv
13-15. Notice the claim of Israel in v 7. Yahweh certainly does not want the
offering of their children (Lev 18:21). The question illustrates Israel's lack
of understanding of Yahweh's requirements. The people tried to purchase God's
favor by external ceremony upon any terms other than sacrificing self and
reforming their lives" (GEM).
Vv 1,2: Yahweh had a case ("plead your case", or lawsuit --
Heb "riv") to bring against His people. The Lord was summoning Israel to defend
herself in a courtroom setting. He addressed the mountains, hills, and
foundations of the earth as the jury in this case (cp Deu 32:1; Isa 1:2).
MY PEOPLE, WHAT HAVE I DONE TO YOU? HOW HAVE I BURDENED
YOU?: Yahweh called the Israelites, His people, to testify how He had caused
them to be so weary of Him that they ceased to obey Him. His rhetorical
questions were unanswerable; He had not given them reason to become dissatisfied
with Him (cp 1Sa 17:29; 20:1; 26:18; 29:8; Isa 5:4). His questions convey a
sense of pathos; rather than simply criticizing them He asked how He had failed
them. They had complained against Him often, but He had given them no occasion
to do so.
I BROUGHT YOU UP OUT OF EGYPT AND REDEEMED YOU FROM THE
LAND OF SLAVERY: Instead of wronging them He had done nothing but good for
them. He had brought them from Egyptian bondage into the Promised Land of milk
and honey. He had bought them out of the house of slavery, Egypt, which their
Passover celebrated (cp Exo 12:3,7,12,13; Deu 7:8; 9:26; 13:5; 15:15; 24:18).
I SENT MOSES TO LEAD YOU, ALSO AARON AND MIRIAM: And He
had given them capable leaders for their wilderness travels in Moses, Aaron, and
Miriam. Moses, the prophet, had given them their law (cp Deu 18:15-22). Aaron
served them as their first high priest, and Miriam was a prophetess who led them
in praising God for His goodness (Exo 15:20,21).
REMEMBER WHAT BALAK KING OF MOAB COUNSELED AND WHAT BALAAM
SON OF BEOR ANSWERED: Yahweh charged the Israelites to remember that Balak,
king of Moab, wanted God to curse His people, but Balaam revealed that God would
never do that (Num 22 -- 24). God's intentions for His people had consistently
REMEMBER YOUR JOURNEY FROM SHITTIM TO GILGAL, THAT YOU MAY
KNOW THE RIGHTEOUS ACTS OF THE LORD: The events of their crossing the Jordan
River and entered the Promised Land showed the same thing. Shittim was the
Israelites' last camping place before they crossed the Jordan, and Gilgal was
where they camped first after crossing (Josh 3:1; 4:18-19). God had always done
what was consistent with His covenant obligations to His people, never burdening
them but always protecting, defending, and enabling them. He had lovingly led
them from slavery in a hostile foreign land to settlement in their own
comfortable country (cp Josh 24; 1Sa 12).
WITH WHAT SHALL I COME BEFORE THE LORD AND BOW DOWN BEFORE
THE EXALTED GOD?: Micah responded to God's goodness (described in vv 1-5) as
the Israelites should have responded. His was the reasonable response in view of
Yahweh's loyal love for His people (cp Rom 12:1,2). So what offering should he
bring to the Yahweh that would be appropriate in view of His mercies to the
Israelites throughout their history?
SHALL I COME BEFORE HIM WITH BURNT OFFERINGS, WITH CALVES A
YEAR OLD?: Would burnt offerings of year-old calves be suitable, since they
were the very best offerings and expressed the worshipper's total personal
dedication to Yahweh (cp Lev 9:2,3; 22:27)?
WILL THE LORD BE PLEASED WITH THOUSANDS OF RAMS...?: Or
would the Lord take pleasure if he offered Him thousands of rams and an
extravagant amount of oil, like Solomon and other kings had done (cp Lev 2:1-16;
1Ki 3:4; 8:63; 2Ch 30:24; 35:7)? Neither the quality of a sacrifice nor its
quantity was the important issue.
This reminds us of the words spoken by God through Samuel to
Saul in 1Sa 15:22 -- when he disobeyed and then tried to cover his trail with a
story about his intention to sacrifice to God. Cp with v 8: walking humbly is
connected with a recognition of the need to worship correctly.
SHALL I OFFER MAY FIRSTBORN FOR MY TRANSGRESSION?: As
did Ahaz (2Ki 16:3).
TO WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD: Cp 2Ch 30:11; 32:26;
33:12; Dan 4:37; Luke 18:13,14. Similar exhortations in Isa 57:15; 66:2; James
"When we are not thinking of God, the flesh is in control.
When we are thinking of God, the Spirit is in control. Our success is, and will
be, measured by how much of the time we are thinking of God. His Word is the
material of which spiritual thought is made. His law is our life-line. His
commandments are a light to our feet. His love is the fire that lights our
heart. Man is made to be part of God. There is no true life for man outside of
God. Man is made in God's image: a glorious beginning, a glorious foreshadowing
of what may be in the eternal beauty of its fulfillment. Blessed are they who
get closer and closer, and are finally absorbed forever into God"
What God does want, Micah now tells us. He does so in a verse
justly regarded as one of the memorable and timeless expressions of OT ethical
religion (cf Jam 1:27). It is the heart's response to God demonstrated in the
basic elements of true religion. This was shown to Israel in the social concerns
reflected in the Mosaic legislation.
God has told the people what is good. The Mosaic law
differentiated between good and bad and reflected God's will in many areas of
their religious and social lives. It indicated what God required of them. They
were to act justly (lit, 'do justice', or mispat). The word 'justly' has here
the sense of 'true religion', ie, the ethical response to God that has a
manifestation in social concerns as well (cf Mic 3:8). 'To love mercy' is to
freely and willingly show kindness to others. The expression 'to walk humbly
with your God' means to live in conscious fellowship with God, exercising a
spirit of humility before him. These great words recall similar words of our
Lord in Mat 23:23.
The prophet was not indicating that sacrifice was completely
ineffectual and that simply a proper heart attitude to God would suffice. In the
preceding verse he painted a caricature, a purposefully exaggerated picture, of
the sacrificial system to indicate that God has no interest in the
multiplication of empty religious acts. Jer 7:22,23 is often appealed to as
evidence that the prophets rejected the Levitical system; yet Jeremiah promised
that the offerings would be acceptable if the people were obedient (Jer
17:24-26). A similar attitude toward sacrifice is expressed in Psa 51:16,17, but
the succeeding verses show the author to be indicating that the Levitical
sacrifices are acceptable to God only when accompanied by a proper heart
attitude toward him (Psa 51:18,19).
The ethical requirements of v 8 here do not in and of
themselves comprise the way of salvation. Forgiveness of sin was received
through the sacrifices. The standards of this verse are for those who -- through
sacrifice and faith -- are already members of God's family and demonstrate the
ethical response that God wants to see in those who are under His covenant.
These standards have not been lessened for Christians, for the NT affirms their
continuing validity. We are still called to the exercise of true religion, to
kindness, and to humility (1Co 13:4; 2Co 6:6; Col 3:12; Jam 1:27; 1Pe 1:2; 5:5).
Believers are in a covenant relationship with God in which the law has been
placed within their hearts (Jer 31:33; cf Heb 10:14-17); there it lives and
guides their actions -- so that the family likeness to their Heavenly Father
will be shown to all men.
"This verse contains one of the most succinct and powerful
expressions of Yahweh's essential requirements in the Bible (cp Mat 23:23; 1Co
13:4; 2Co 6:6; Col 3:12; James 1:27; 1Pe 1:2; 5:5). It explains the essence of
spiritual reality in contrast to mere ritual worship. Though the Lord asked His
people to worship Him in formal ways, which the Mosaic Covenant spelled out, His
primary desire was for a heart attitude marked by the characteristics Micah
articulated (cp Psa 51:16,17; Jer 7:22-26)" (Const).
Vv 9-16: Yahweh's sentence of judgment: The LORD became
specific about Israel's sins, as a prosecuting attorney, and then announced His
verdict, as a judge.
THE LORD IS CALLING TO THE CITY: Micah announced that
Yahweh would call to the city of Jerusalem; He would declare something important
to the people of that town, Micah's audience of Judeans.
TO FEAR YOUR NAME IS WISDOM: They would be wise to hear
Him and to fear Him because of who He is (cp v 1; Mic 3:1; Pro 1:7).
THE SHORT EPHAH: A measure that was less than what was
called for -- evidence of injustice even "on a small scale" (v 8; cp Lev
19:35,36; Deu 25:13-16; Amos 8:5). The ephah was a basket that held about six
gallons of dry produce. Using a slightly smaller basket robbed the buyer of some
product that he was purchasing for the price of an ephah.
YOU WILL EAT BUT NOT BE SATISFIED; YOUR STOMACH WILL STILL
BE EMPTY: They would continue to eat, but their food would not bring them
satisfaction (cp Lev 26:26).
YOU WILL STORE UP BUT SAVE NOTHING, BECAUSE WHAT YOU SAVE I
WILL GIVE TO THE SWORD: They would try to keep safe what they had bought,
but they would not be able to do so, and what they did lock away would only
become the property of invading soldiers eventually (cp Lev 26:16,17; Deu
YOU WILL PLANT BUT NOT HARVEST: They would sow seed,
but they would not reap a harvest because the Lord would not bless the land with
rain and cause the crops to grow (cp Deu 28:30).
YOU WILL PRESS OLIVES BUT NOT USE THE OIL ON YOURSELVES,
YOU WILL CRUSH GRAPES BUT NOT DRINK THE WINE: They would harvest and press
their olive crops, but there would be so little product that they would have
none even for their own use. Similarly their grape harvests would be so small
that they would produce too little wine to drink (cp Deu 28:39,40; Amos
OMRI... AHAB'S HOUSE: . This group of Israel's kings
constituted some of the worst in the history of the Northern Kingdom largely
because of their idolatry and unjust oppression of the weak (cp 1Ki 16:21 --
DERISION... SCORN: "Loss of reputation is ever the
final indignity which rubs salt into the wounds of suffering" (Allen).