Declare ye it not at Gath - Do not let this prediction be known among the Philistines, else they will glory over you.
House of Aphrah - Or, Beth-aphrah. This place is mentioned Joshua 18:23, as in the tribe of Benjamin. There is a paronomasia, or play on words, here: עפר לעפרה בבית bebeith leaphrah aphar, "Roll thyself in the dust in the house of dust."
Tell it not in Gath - Gath had probably now ceased to be; at least, to be of any account. It shows how David‘s elegy lived in the hearts of Judah, that his words are used as a proverb, (just as we do now, in whose ears it is yearly read), when, as with us, its original application was probably lost. True, Gath, reduced itself, might rejoice the more maliciously over the sufferings of Judah. But David mentions it as a chief seat of Philistine strength; now its strength was gone.
The blaspheming of the enemies of God is the sorest part of His chastisements. Whence David prays “let not mine enemies exult over me” Psalm 25:2; and the sons of Korah, “With a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me, while they say daily unto me, where is thy God?” Psalm 42:10; and Ethan; “Thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice. Remember, Lord, the reproach of Thy servant” Psalm 89:42, Psalm 89:50 - wherewith Thine enemies have reproached, O Lord, wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of Thine anointed. It is hard to part with home, with country, to see all desolate, which one ever loved. But far, far above all, is it, if, in the disgrace and desolation, God‘s honor seems to be injured. The Jewish people was then God‘s only home on earth. If it could be extinguished, who remained to honor Him? Victories over them seemed to their pagan neighbors to be victories over Him. He seemed to be dishonored without, because they had first dishonored Him within. Sore is it to the Christian, to see God‘s cause hindered, His kingdom narrowed, the empire of infidelity advanced. Sorer in one way, because he knows the price of souls, for whom Jesus died. But the world is now the Church‘s home. “The holy church throughout all the world doth acknowledge Thee!” Then, it was girt in within a few miles of territory, and sad indeed it must have been to the prophet, to see this too hemmed in. Tell it not in Gath, to the sons of those who, of old, defied God.
Weep not at all - (Literally, weeping, weep not). Weeping is the stillest expression of grief. We speak of “weeping in silence.” Yet this also was too visible a token of grief. Their weeping would be the joy and laughter of God‘s enemies.
In the house of Aphrah - (probably, In Beth-leaphrah) roll thyself in the dust (Better, as the text, I roll myself in dust). The prophet chose unusual names, such as would associate themselves with the meanings which he wished to convey, so that thence forth the name itself might recall the prophecy. As if we were to say, “In Ashe I roll myself in ashes.” - There was an Aphrah near Jerusalem. It is more likely that Micah should refer to this, than to the Ophrah in Benjamin Joshua 18:23; 1 Samuel 13:17. He showed them, in his own person, how they should mourn, retired out of sight and hidden, as it were, in the dust. Jer. Rup.: “Whatever grief your heart may have, let your face have no tears; go not forth, but, in the house of dust, sprinkle thyself with the ashes of its ruins.”
All the places thenceforth spoken of were in Judah, whose sorrow and desolation are repeated in all. It is one varied history of sorrow: The names of her cities, whether in themselves called from some gifts of God, as Shaphir, (beautiful; we have Fairford, Fairfield, Fairburn, Fairlight,) or contrariwise from some defect, Maroth, Bitterness (probably from brackish water) Achzib, lying, (doubtless from a winter-torrent which in summer failed) suggest, either in contrast or by themselves, some note of evil and woe. It is Judah‘s history in all, given in different traits; her “beauty” turned into shame; herself free neither to go forth nor to “abide;” looking for good and finding evil; the strong (Lachish) strong only to flee; like a brook that fails and deceives; her inheritance (Mareshah) inherited; herself, taking refuge in dens and caves of the earth, yet even there found, and bereft of her glory. Whence, in the end, without naming Judah, the prophet sums up her sorrows with one call to mourning.