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The Prophet Micah’s Lament: Hermits Can Never Please the Lord

July 18, 2011

Continuing in the study through Micah with S. Lewis Johnson, the beginning of Micah 7 contains a lament:  verses 1 through 6.

About 1/3 of the Psalms are laments, as also shown in the Psalms chart in the MacArthur Bible Commentary, which lists 49 Psalms in this category.

From the text in Micah, we can learn the following.  A lament has two purposes:

  1. It functions as a prayer: the one who writes the lament unfolds his own heart’s burden in his role as a mediator.
  2. It makes plain the divine view of their corruption, of what God thinks about the condition of the land — which     was not at all good towards this apostate nation.

Micah 7:2 tells us that “​​The godly has perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among mankind.”  In this terrible society, honest and upright men don’t exist: men who meet the requirements of the things that the Lord required (reference Micah 6:6-8).  Another observation to make here, is that hermits can never please the Lord, hermits can never do the will of God.  In S. Lewis Johnson’s words:

By the way, this lets us know that hermits never can do the will of God.  Isolation never would produce moral and social concern in fruit.  So the hermit is a kind of picture of a spiritual man that the Bible condemns.  The Bible expects a spiritual man not to be a man of isolation, but a man of biblical separation.  That is a holy man in the midst of unholy people doing the will of God, such as our Lord.  Hermits, therefore, are individuals who cannot, by virtue of their very manner of life, cannot please the Lord.

Verse 6 is a passage that became popular among Jews in the apocalyptic literature during the inter-testamental time.  Jesus also quotes this verse, in Matthew 10:35-36

(Micah 7:6)  ​​​​​​​​for the son treats the father with contempt,
the daughter rises up against her mother,
the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.

This description of families will be true in the Tribulation era, the main focus of this passage.  Yet it has application to some past time periods as well, of people living in particularly harsh situations:  for instance the Communist Soviet Union, or Hitler’s Germany, societies where people could not openly speak their beliefs even in their own home, with their own family.  I think of a scene from an old movie, The Counterfeit Traitor, that portrays such at least politically: a father living in Nazi Germany is having secret meetings with William Holden’s character (an Ally spy pretending to be a Nazi), but the young son is committed to the Nazi cause and stirs up trouble.  To a certain extent even believers married to unbelievers, or married to professed believers who nonetheless oppose certain truths set forth in scripture, experience this too, and often to keep peace in the house must follow the words of Micah 7:5, “guard the doors of your mouth from her (or him) who lies in your arms.”

In verse 7 the tone changes, from pessimism to optimism, as Micah affirms his hope, that he looks to the Lord, the God of his salvation, the God who will hear him.  Micah’s response is how we all should end our laments, in looking to our God, in eagerly awaiting His coming and His Messianic Kingdom.

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