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Micah 7:16-17

16. The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf.

16. Videbunt gentes et pudefient ab omni fortitudine sua; ponent manum super os, aures eorum surdescent:

17. They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: they shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall fear because of thee.

17. Lingent pulverem quasi serpens, quasi reptilia terrae frement (vel, movebunt) a latibulis suis; ad Jehovam Deum nostrum pavebunt, et metuent sibi abs te.


Here again the Prophet shows, that though the Church should be assailed on every side and surrounded by innumerable enemies, no doubt ought yet to be entertained respecting the promised aid of God; for it is in his power to make all nations ashamed, that is, to cast down all the pride of the world, so as to make the unbelieving to acknowledge at length that they were elated by an empty confidence. Hence he says, that the nations shall see; as though he said, “I know what makes you anxious, for many enemies are intent on your ruin; and when any help appears, they are immediately prepared fiercely to resist; but their attempts and efforts will not prevent God from delivering you.”

They shall then see and be ashamed of all their strength 198198     “They shall be ashamed of the strength in which they trusted,” — Drusius; or as Grotius says, “of all their strength which had been so suddenly destroyed;” or, as another author says, “of all their strength when found ineffectual for the purpose of destroying the people of God.” — Ed. By these words the Prophet means, that however strongly armed the unbelieving may think themselves to be to destroy the Church, and that how many obstacles soever they may have in their power to restrain the power of God in its behalf, yet the whole will be in vain, for God will, in fact, prove that the strength of men is mere nothing.

He adds, They shall lay their hand on their mouth; that is, they shall not dare to boast hereafter, as they have hitherto done; for this phrase in Hebrew means to be silent. Since then the enemies of the Church made great boastings and exulted with open mouth, as though the people of God were destroyed, the Prophet says, that when God would appear as the Redeemer of his people, they should become, as it were, mute. He subjoins, their ears shall become deaf; 199199     “Malice,” says Jerome, “not only blinds the eyes, but also deafens the ears.” — Ed. that is, they shall stand astounded; nay, they shall hardly dare to open their ears, lest the rumor, brought to them, should occasion to them new trembling. Proud men, we know, when matters succeed according to their wishes, not only boast of their good fortune with open mouths, but also greedily catch at all rumors; for as they think they are all so many messages of victories, — “What is from this place? or what is from that place?” They even expect that the whole world will come under their power. The Prophet, on the other hand, says, “They shall lay the hand on the mouth, and their ears shall become deaf; that is they shall tremblingly shun all rumors, for they shall continually dread new calamities, when they shall see that the God of Israel, against who they have hitherto fought, is armed with so much power.

Some apply this to the preaching of the Gospel; which I readily allow, provided the deliverance be made always to begin with the ancient people: for if any one would have this to be understood exclusively of Christ, such a strained and remote exposition would not be suitable. But if any one will consider the favor of God, as continued from the return of the people to the restoration effected by Christ, he will rightly comprehend the real design of the Prophet. Really fulfilled, then, is what the Prophet says here, when God spreads the doctrine of his Gospel through the whole world: for those who before boasted of their own inventions, begin then to close their mouth, that, being thus silent, they may become his disciples; and they also close their ears, for now they give not up themselves, as before, to foolish and puerile fables, but consecrate their whole hearing to the only true God, that they may attend only to his truth, and no more vacillate between contrary opinions. All this, I allow, is fulfilled under the preaching of the Gospel; but the Prophet, no doubt, connected together the whole time, from the return of the people from the Babylonian exile, to the manifestation of Christ.

He afterwards adds, They shall lick the dust as a serpent He intimates, that however the enemies of the Church may have proudly exalted themselves before, they shall then be cast down, and lie, as it were, on the ground; for to lick the dust is nothing else but to lie prostrate on the earth. They shall then be low and creeping like serpents; and then, They shall move themselves as worms and reptiles of the ground The verb רגז, regez, as it has been stated elsewhere, means to raise an uproar, to tumultuate, and it means also to move one’s self; and this latter meaning is the most suitable here, namely, that they shall go forth or move themselves from their enclosures; for the word סגר, sager, signifies to close up: and by enclosures he means hiding-places, though in the song of David, in Psalm 18:, the word is applied to citadels and other fortified places, —

‘Men,’ he says, ‘trembled from their fortresses;’

though they occupied well-fortified citadels, they yet were afraid, because the very fame of David had broken down their boldness. But as the Prophet speaks here of worms, I prefer this rendering, — ‘from their lurkingplaces;’ as though he said, “Though they have hitherto thought themselves safe in their enclosures, they shall yet move and flee away like worms and reptiles; for when the ground is dug, the worms immediately leap out, for they think that they are going to be taken; so also, when any one moves the ground, the reptiles come forth, and tremblingly run away in all directions.” And the Prophet says that, in like manner, the enemies of the Church, when the Lord shall arise for its help, shall be smitten with so much fear, that they shall in every direction run away. And this comparison ought to be carefully noticed, that is, when the Prophet compares powerful nations well exercised in wars, who before were audaciously raging, and were swollen with great pride — when he compares them to worms and reptiles of the ground, and also to serpents: he did this to show, that there will be nothing to hinder God from laying prostrate every exalted thing in the world, as soon as it shall please him to aid his Church.

And hence the Prophet adds, On account of Jehovah our God they shall treed, and they shall fear because of thee Here the Prophet shows, that the faithful ought not to distrust on account of their own weakness, but, on the contrary, to remember the infinite power of God. It is indeed right that the children of God should begin with diffidence, — sensible that they are nothing, and that all their strength is nothing; but they ought not to stop at their own weakness, but, on the contrary, to rise up to the contemplation of God’s power, that they may not doubt but that, when his power shall appear, their enemies shall be soon scattered. This is the reason why the Prophet here mentions the name of God, and then turns to address God himself. Tremble then shall they at Jehovah our God, that is, on account of Jehovah our God; and then Fear shall they because of thee. 200200     Dathius renders these two lines differently, “Jovam Deum nostrum timebunt eumque reverebuntur — Jehovah our God they shall fear, and him will they reverence.” But this is neither consistent with the passage, nor with the form in which the words appear. פחד is not commonly, if ever, a transitive verb, and to dread, or to be afraid, and not to fear, is its usual meaning: and ירא, when it means the fear of reverence, is generally construed without a preposition, and with את before Jehovah. The literal rendering is no doubt that which is given by Calvin. The distich is capable of being rendered in Welsh exactly as in Hebrew, in the same form and with the same prepositions; and, when thus rendered, the meaning is what is give here, —
   Oherwydd Jehova ein Duw ur arswydant,
Ac ovnant rhagddot

   To fear because of thee, and to fear thee, are two distinct things. You will have the first form in Joshua 10:8; 11:6; and the second in Deuteronomy 31:12. The first refers to the fear of the Canaanites, the dread of their power; the second, to the fear of Jehovah. — Ed.
It now follows —

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