Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Micah 7:17

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

They shall lick the dust like a (the) serpent - To lick the dust, by itself, pictures the extreme humility of persons who east themselves down to the very earth (as in Psalm 72:9; Isaiah 49:23). To lick it “like the serpent” seems rather to represent the condition of those who share the serpent‘s doom Genesis 3:14; Isaiah 65:25, whose lot, viz. earth and things of earth, they had chosen (Rup.): “They shall move out of their holes”, or, better, shall tremble, (that is, “come tremblingly,”) out of their close places, whether these be strong places or prisons, as the word, varied in one vowel means. If it be strong places, it means, that “the enemies of God‘s people should, in confusion and tumltuously with fear, leave their strongholds, wherein they thought to be secure, not able to lift themselves up against God and those by Him sent against them.” “Like worms of the earth”, literally, creeping things, or, as we say, reptiles, contemptuously. “They shall be afraid of”, or rather come trembling to, the Lord our God; it is uot said their, but our God, who hath done so great things for us. And shall fear because of (literally, from) Thee, O Lord, of whom they had before said, Where is the Lord thy God?

It is doubtful, whether these last words express a “servile tear,” whereby a man turns away and flees from the person or thing which he fears, or whether they simply describe fear of God, the first step toward repentance. In Hosea‘s words, “they shall fear toward the Lord and His goodness” Hosea 3:5, the addition, and His goodness, determines the character of the fear. In Micah, it is not said that the fear brings them into any relation to God. lie is not spoken of; as becoming, any how, their God, and Micah closes by a thanksgiving, for God‘s pardoning mercy, not to them but to His people.

And so the prophet ends, as he began, with the judgments of God; to those who would repent, chastisement, to the impenitent, punishment: “sentencing Samaria, guilty and not repenting” (Rup.), to perpetual captivity; to Jerusalem, guilty but repenting, promising restoration. So from the beginning of the world did God; so doth He; so shall He unto the end. So did He show Himself to Cain and Abel, who both, as we all, sinned in Adam. Cain, being impenitent, lie wholly cast away; Abel, being penitent,” and through faith offering a better sacrifice than Cain, and “bringing forth fruits worthy of repentance, He accepted.” So He hath foreshown as to the end John 5:25, but who, in the end, shall be forced to hear it out of their close places or prisons, that is, the grave, and come forth in fear, when they shall “say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us” Luke 23:30; Revelation 6:16. Thus the prophet brings us to the close of all things, the gladness and joy of God‘s people, the terror of His enemies, and adds only the song of thanksgiving of all the redeemed.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
When God is about to deliver his people, he stirs up their friends to pray for them. Apply spiritually the prophet's prayer to Christ, to take care of his church, as the great Shepherd of the sheep, and to go before them, while they are here in this world as in a wood, in this world but not of it. God promises in answer to this prayer, he will do that for them which shall be repeating the miracles of former ages. As their sin brought them into bondage, so God's pardoning their sin brought them out. All who find pardoning mercy, cannot but wonder at that mercy; we have reason to stand amazed, if we know what it is. When the Lord takes away the guilt of sin, that it may not condemn us, he will break the power of sin, that it may not have dominion over us. If left to ourselves, our sins will be too hard for us; but God's grace shall be sufficient to subdue them, so that they shall not rule us, and then they shall not ruin us. When God forgives sin, he takes care that it never shall be remembered any more against the sinner. He casts their sins into the sea; not near the shore-side, where they may appear again, but into the depth of the sea, never to rise again. All their sins shall be cast there, for when God forgives sin, he forgives all. He will perfect that which concerns us, and with this good work will do all for us which our case requires, and which he has promised. These engagements relate to Christ, and the success of the gospel to the end of time, the future restoration of Israel, and the final prevailing of true religion in all lands. The Lord will perform his truth and mercy, not one jot or tittle of it shall fall to the ground: faithful is He that has promised, who also will do it. Let us remember that the Lord has given the security of his covenant, for strong consolation to all who flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them in Christ Jesus.