Here is, I. A general account of this prophet and his prophecy, Mic. 1:1. This is prefixed for the satisfaction of all that read and hear the prophecy of this book, who will give the more credit to it when they know the author and his authority. 1. The prophecy is the word of the Lord; it is a divine revelation. Note, What is written in the Bible, and what is preached by the ministers of Christ according to what is written there, must be heard and received, not as the word of dying men, which we may be judges of, but as the word of the living God, which we must be judged by, for so it is. This word of the Lord came to the prophet, came plainly, came powerfully, came in a preventing way, and he saw it, saw the vision in which it was conveyed to him, saw the things themselves which he foretold, with as much clearness and certainty as if they had been already accomplished. 2. The prophet is Micah the Morasthite; his name Micah is a contraction of Micaiah, the name of a prophet some ages before (in Ahab’s time, 1 Kgs. 22:8); his surname, the Morasthite, signifies that he was born, or lived, at Moresheth, which is mentioned here (Mic. 1:14), or Mareshah, which is mentioned Mic. 1:15; Josh. 15:44. The place of his abode is mentioned, that any one might enquire in that place, at that time, and might find there was, or had been, such a one there, who was generally reputed to be a prophet. 3. The date of his prophecy is in the reigns of three kings of Judah—Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Ahaz was one of the worst of Judah’s kings, and Hezekiah one of the best; such variety of times pass over God’s ministers, times that frown and times that smile, to each of which they must study to accommodate themselves, and to arm themselves against the temptations of both. The promises and threatenings of this book are interwoven, by which it appears that even in the wicked reign he preached comfort, and said to the righteous then that it should be well with them; and that in the pious reign he preached conviction, and said to the wicked then that it should be ill with them; for, however the times change, the word of the Lord is still the same. 4. The parties concerned in this prophecy; it is concerning Samaria and Jerusalem, the head cities of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah, under the influence of which the kingdoms themselves were. Though the ten tribes have deserted the houses both of David and Aaron, yet God is pleased to send prophets to them.
II. A very solemn introduction to the following prophecy (Mic. 1:2), in which, 1. The people are summoned to draw near and give their attendance, as upon a court of judicature: Hear, all you people, Note, Where God has a mouth to speak we must have an ear to hear; we all must, for we are all concerned in what is delivered. “Hear, you people” (all of them, so the margin reads it), “all you that are now within hearing, and all others that hear it at second hand.” It is an unusual construction; but those words with which Micah begins his prophecy are the very same in the original with those wherewith Micaiah ended his, 1 Kgs. 22:28. 2. The earth is called upon, with all that therein is, to hear what the prophet has to say: Hearken, O earth! The earth shall be made to shake under the stroke and weight of the judgments coming; sooner will the earth hear than this stupid senseless people; but God will be heard when he pleads. If the church, and those in it, will not hear, the earth, and those in it, shall, and shame them. 3. God himself is appealed to, and his omniscience, power, and justice, are vouched in testimony against this people: “Let the Lord God be witness against you, a witness that you had fair warning given you, that your prophets did their duty faithfully as watchmen, but you would not take the warning; let the accomplishment of the prophecy be a witness against your contempt and disbelief of it, and prove, to your conviction and confusion, that it was the word of God, and no word of his shall fall to the ground.” Note, God himself will be a witness, by the judgments of his hand, against those that would not receive his testimony in the judgments of his mouth. He will be a witness from his holy temple in heaven, when he comes down to execute judgment (Mic. 1:3) against those that turned a deaf ear to his oracles, wherein he witnessed to them, out of his holy temple at Jerusalem.
III. A terrible prediction of destroying judgments which should come upon Judah and Israel, which had its accomplishment soon after in Israel, and at length in Judah; for it is foretold, 1. That God himself will appear against them, Mic. 1:3. They boasted of themselves and their relation to God, as if that would secure them; but, though God never deceives the faith of the upright, he will disappoint the presumption of the hypocrites, for, behold, the Lord comes forth out of his place, quits his mercy-seat, where they thought they had him fast, and prepares his throne for judgment; his glory departs, for they drive it from them. God’s way towards this people had long been a way of mercy, but now he changes his way, he comes out of his place, and will come down. He had seemed to retire, as one regardless of what was done, but now he will show himself, he will rend the heavens, and will come down, not as sometimes, in surprising mercies, but in surprising judgments, to do things not for them, but against them, which they looked not for, Isa. 64:1; 26:21. 2. That when the Creator appears against them it shall be in vain for any creature to appear for them. He will tread with contempt and disdain upon the high places of the earth, upon all the powers that are advanced in competition with him or in opposition to him; and he will so tread upon them as to tread them down and level them. High places, set up for the worship of idols or for military fortifications, shall all be trodden down and trampled into the dust. Do men trust to the height and strength of the mountains and rocks, as if they were sufficient to bear up their hopes and bear off their fears? They shall be molten under him, melted down as wax before the fire, Ps. 68:2. Do they trust to the fruitfulness of the valleys, and their products? They shall be cleft, or rent, with those fiery streams that shall come pouring down from the mountains when they are melted. They shall be ploughed and washed away as the ground is by the waters that are poured down a steep place. God is said to cleave the earth with rivers, Hab. 3:9. Neither men of high degree, as the mountains, nor men of low degree, as the valleys, shall be able to secure either themselves or the land from judgments of God, when they are sent with commission to lay all waste, and, like a sweeping rain, to leave no food, Prov. 28:3. This is applied particularly to the head city of Israel, which they hoped would be a protection to the kingdom (Mic. 1:6): I will make Samaria, that is now a rich and populous city, as a heap of the field, as a heap of dung laid there to be spread, or as a heap of stones gathered together to be carried away, and as plantings of a vineyard, as hillocks of earth raised to plant vines in. God will make of that city a heap, of that defenced city a ruin, Isa. 25:2. Their altars had been as heaps in the furrows of the fields (Hos. 12:11) and now their houses shall be so, as ruinous heaps. The stones of the city are poured down into the valley by the fury of the conqueror, who will thus be revenged on those walls that so long held out against him. They shall be quite pulled down, so that the very foundations shall be discovered, that had been covered by the superstructure; and not one stone shall be left upon another.
IV. A charge of sin upon them, as the procuring cause of these desolating judgments (Mic. 1:5): For the transgression of Jacob is all this. If it be asked, “Why is God so angry, and why are Jacob and Israel thus brought to ruin by his anger?” the answer is ready: Sin has done all the mischief; sin has laid all waste; all the calamities of Jacob and Israel are owing to their transgressions; if they had not gone away from God, he would never have appeared thus against them. Note, External privileges and professions will not secure a sinful people from the judgments of God. If sin be found in the house of Israel, if Jacob be guilty of transgression and rebellion, God will not spare them; no, he will punish them first, for their sins are of all others most provoking to him, for they are most reproaching. But it is asked, What is the transgression of Jacob? Note, When we feel the smart of sin it concerns us to enquire what the sin is which we smart for, that we may particularly war against that which wars against us. And what is it? 1. It is idolatry; it is the high places; that is the transgression, the great transgression which reigns in Israel; that is spiritual whoredom, the violation of the marriage-covenant, which merits a divorce. Even the high places of Judah, though not so bad as the transgression of Jacob, were yet offensive enough to God, and a remaining blemish upon some of the good reigns. Howbeit the high places were not taken away. 2. It is the idolatry of Samaria and Jerusalem, the royal cities of those two kingdoms. These were the most populous places, and where there were most people there was most wickedness, and they made one another worse. These were the most pompous places; there men lived most in wealth and pleasure, and they forgot God. These were the places that had the greatest influence upon the country, by authority and example; so that from them idolatry and profaneness went forth throughout all the land, Jer. 23:15. Note, Spiritual distempers are most contagious in persons and places that are most conspicuous. If the head city of a kingdom, or the chief family in a parish, be vicious and profane, many will follow their pernicious ways, and write after a bad copy when great ones set it for them. The vices of leaders and rulers are leading ruling vices, and therefore shall be surely and sorely punished. Those have a great deal to answer for indeed that not only sin, but make Israel to sin. Those must expect to be made examples that have been examples of wickedness. If the transgression of Jacob is Samaria, therefore shall Samaria become a heap. Let the ringleaders in sin hear this and fear.
V. The punishment made to answer the sin, in the particular destruction of the idols, Mic. 1:7. 1. The gods they worshipped shall be destroyed: The graven images shall be beaten to pieces by the army of the Assyrians, and all the idols shall be laid desolate. Samaria and her idols were ruined together by Sennacherib (Isa. 10:11), and their gods cast into the fire, for they were no gods (Isa. 37:19); and this was the Lord’s doing: I will lay the idols desolate. Note, If the law of God prevail not to make men in authority destroy idols, God will take the work into his own hands, and will do it himself. 2. The gifts that passed between them and their gods shall be destroyed; for all the hires thereof shall be burnt with fire, which may be meant either of the presents they made to their idols for the replenishing of their altars, and the adorning of their statues and temples (these shall become a prey to the victorious army, which shall rifle not only private houses, but the houses of their gods), or of the corn, and wine, and oil, which they called the rewards, or hires, which their idols, their lovers, gave them (Hos. 2:12); these shall be taken from them by him whom (by ascribing them to their dear idols) they had defrauded of the honour due to him. Note, That cannot prosper by which men either are hired to sin or hire others to sin; for the wages of sin will be death. She gathered it of the hire of the harlot, and it shall return to the hire of a harlot. They enriched themselves by their leagues with the idolatrous nations, who gave them advantages, to court them into the service of their idols, and their idols’ temples were enriched with gifts by those who went a whoring after them. And all this wealth shall become a prey to the idolatrous nations, and so be the hire of a harlot again, wages to an army of idolaters, who shall take it as a reward given them by their gods. It shall be a present to king Jareb, Hos. 10:6. What they gave to their idols, and what they thought they got by them, shall be as the hire of a harlot; the curse of God shall be upon it, and it shall never prosper, nor do them any good. It is common that what is squeezed out by one lust is squandered away upon another.