Some of the most compelling stories are comeback stories. Whether it’s an injured sports star, an unlikely hero, or overcoming extraordinary odds, you can’t help but cheer. These types of stories are found throughout Scripture, but one you may not be familiar with is in Micah. Let’s follow the Word Biblical Commentary through the last passage in Micah to hear how God would bring his people back.

A Prophetic Liturgy

Micah 7:7-20 is made up of four distinct parts. First is a psalm of trust (vv 7-10) in which the nation speaks of her trust in Yahweh. She understands that she is suffering for her sins (v 9), but her enemies should not gloat over her plight because God will give her victory and they will become like mire in the streets (v 10). Second is an oracle (vv 11-13) in which a prophet announces that the city walls will be enlarged, exiles will return from north to south and from east to west, but the lands of her enemies will be desolate. Third is a prayer for God to bless Israel and punish her enemies (vv 14-17). Fourth is a hymn praising Yahweh for his forgiveness and devotion to his covenant which he promised his people as far back as the days of Abraham (vv 18-20).

Explanation of Micah 7:7–20

Trust in Yahweh

The speaker in vv 7-10 says that although society may be corrupt (vv 1-6), it will not always be that way. Calamity has come. Jerusalem has fallen (8b). Her people sit in the darkness of prison, poverty, or exile. But Yahweh will be a light to her (cf. Ps 27:1). Now for the first time in Micah we read of the people’s confession of sin (7a), and a willingness to suffer because of it. But there is assurance that God will defend her and give her victory over her enemies. Those who now are taunting Israel by asking, “Where is your God?” (cf. Ps 42:3, 10) will one day become the mire of the streets (v 10).

Rebuilt and Expanded

In many cultic rituals in Israel there was a moment when a priest or prophet stepped forward and gave the congregation an assurance from God that he had heard their petitions. Vv 11-13 seem to be such a prophetic utterance. The walls will be rebuilt; the borders enlarged; the exiles will return and the enemies’ land will be desolate. Some scholars have questioned whether or not the city referred to here is Jerusalem. Eissfeldt, Reicke, and others have argued that the city was Samaria because Jerusalem is not mentioned and there are many North Israelite names, i.e. Carmel, Bashan, and Gilead (v 14), in the passage. The word for wall גדד generally refers to a stone fence (Num 22:24; Ps 62:4). קיר is more commonly used for city wall. However these arguments do not militate against taking this pericope to be about Jerusalem.

The Lord is Our Shepherd

Vv 14-17 are a prayer for God to care for his people like a shepherd and for the subjection of the nations to Yahweh. Israel is God’s inheritance as a result of the covenant (v 14). Now Israel dwells alone in a forest, abandoned on a lonely mountain top as Micah had predicted (3:12). The prayer is for Israel’s fortunes to be changed. Still using the analogy of sheep, the people pray that they will be restored to the best grazing lands of Bashan and Gilead (v 14c). Then recalling how God led them out of Egypt the people pray to see the wonders again (v 15). What Israel sees as God’s mighty acts of salvation for her will become acts of terror and fear for the nations (v 16, cf. Exod 15:14-16). They will become speechless and deaf (cf. Isa 33:3).

V 17 prays that “the nations” be like snakes, licking dust, and living in underground holes in view of Yahweh’s awesome display of power. Then it prays that, thus humiliated, they will emerge into God’s presence with fitting dread. “Let them fear you” is a prayer for their humble worship of Yahweh. Their total capitulation before Yahweh has made possible their worship of him (cf. for Jonah 1:16 in relation to the sailors; cf. Wolff 204). Paul speaks of a time when “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess …” (Phil 2:10).

There Is None Like Yahweh

The last section of this liturgy is a hymn or a doxology (vv 18-20). The first line states that God is incomparable and unique. There is a play on Micah’s name in this statement, for his name means “who is like Yahweh?” The congregation believes that its prayers will be answered because it believes that God forgives sins. His anger does not last forever (v 18, cf. Ps 30:5). He will get victory over our sins and bury them in the depths of the sea because he will always be true to his covenant promise which he made with Abraham.

The two words חסד and אמת in v 20 are often translated “grace and truth” in the OT to refer to God’s faithfulness to his covenant. The prologue to John’s Gospel claims that “the law came through Moses, but grace (חסד) and truth (אמת) came through Jesus Christ” (Jn 1:17). Thus Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to Abraham and Jacob.

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