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14th May

Micah 1-4; Psalm 129

Bible in a Year
5 minutes
In this article
14th May

Micah 1-4; Psalm 129

Bible in a Year
5 minutes


Micah was a prophet in the southern kingdom of Judah that preached to both the southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel. Because of this Micah uses the term Israel to refer to both kingdoms together.

On the odd time he wants to distinguish between the two he calls them by their capital cities, Jerusalem in the south, Samaria (technically their second capital) in the north.

Micah lived during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah and was likely a contemporary of Isaiah.

Micah 1-2 - Warnings and hope: Round 1

Micah 3-5 - Warnings and hope: Round 2

Micah 6-7 - Warnings and hope: Round 3

The book is split into three sections that start with Micah's accusations and warning against Israel and end with a message of hope. In the second section, we have a much larger section of hope.

The themes of Micah are now common to us from previous pre-exilic prophets. Micah pronounces judgement on the people for their idolatry and social injustices. He then speaks of a future time when Israel and all the nations will be restored under God.

Micah 1-4

Micah wastes no time describing God coming down from heaven with destruction. The reason? The sin and wickedness of both the northern and southern kingdoms. Therefore, he will destroy Samaria, the northern kingdom, removing all their idol worship from the land.

And God will weep, because this wickedness has infected the southern kingdom of Judah. In his mourning, God lists many of the significant towns in the southern kingdom and the fate that awaits them.

God concludes his mourning with a clear-cut message. He will bring an army to conquer the land, and their children will be taken into exile.

Next, God calls out the wealthy land barons, who have come and bought up land and homes from those who were struggling financially.

Micah describes them as coveting, which is breaking one of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:17) On top of that, God's people were never meant to buy up and hoard land. The land had been divided up amongst the different tribes and families of Israel, and that land was meant to stay in those families.

If someone was struggling, they could rent out their land to you for a time, but afterwards that land had to go back to the original family, so that no one was without and no one had too much.

Just as these wealthy land barons have been oppressing the poor, God will send disaster on them to humble and oppress them.

After that, Micah responds to those who are telling him not to preach. He condemns them for turning away from God’s words, and points out that, because of this, they have become an oppressive people. Instead, they would much rather have false prophets, people who will preach about things they want, like wine and strong drink.

But then Micah ends this first section on a high note. God will gather the remnant of Israel. This assumes what Micah had already spoken. God will send his people into exile. But after that, he will bring them back to him. He will be their king and lead them.

Then Micah starts his second section of accusations and warnings. He targets the leaders of Israel, challenging them for their lack of justice. He describes them as cannibals, consuming God's people for their own pleasure. When God's destruction comes, these leaders will cry out to him, but he will not listen to them.

Next are the corrupt prophets who preach good things to those who give them food and other items, but destruction to those who give them nothing. As these men pretend to see God's will, they will be shrouded in darkness so they can't see anything.

But while these prophets are corrupt liars, Micah is filled with the Spirit of the Lord and power. While the people should not trust these false prophets, they should trust him.

Micah then calls to these leaders and prophets together, condemning them for how they have led Israel. Because of them, Jerusalem will be destroyed. 

But then Micah switches back to his message of hope, to a future time. God will reestablish his mountain (think of God leading the people from Mount Sinai back in Exodus) and his holy city Zion on top of it.

All the nations will come to this mountain city to seek God, fulfilling God's promise to Abraham that his descendants will be a blessing to all nations. This mountain city will be the place where God teaches his people, and from where justice will flow.

God will judge between disputes amongst nations so that there will be no more wars. Every man (and woman) with have their own vine and fig tree. Their own land. The own little garden of Eden. And God's people will walk in his name forever.

In that day, God will restore the remnant of his people, those who had been made lame, and those who had been oppressed.

So Micah encourages the people in this future hope. They will be like a woman in labour. First, they will be oppressed and taken into captivity to Babylon. There will be pain. But then God will rescue them.

While right now there are many enemies surrounding them and trouble facing them, God's end goal is to strengthen Israel into this new holy city and defeat their enemies.

Psalm 129

This psalm isn’t attributed to anyone in particular and is named as a psalm of ascent. These psalms were sung by worshippers as they ascended to Jerusalem for the three pilgrimage festivals (Passover, Festival of Weeks, and Festival of Tabernacles) or possibly by the Levites as they ascended the steps of the Temple. Psalm 120-134 are all psalms of ascent.

Psalm 129:1-3 - I was oppressed

Psalm 129:4-8 - May God defeat the oppressor

In this ascent journey we’ve gone from being far from God's presence (Psalm 120), to seeking God’s presence (Psalm 121), and then to reaching God’s presence (Psalm 122). From there, the psalmist has asked the Lord for help (Psalm 123) and then praised the Lord for his protection (Psalm 124).

From within Jerusalem, they reflected on the nature of righteousness and wickedness (Psalm 125). They thanked God for how he has restored his city, but also ask for more (Psalm 126). This leads the psalmist to reflect on the importance of God being first and foremost in our live (Psalm 127) and fearing God (Psalm 128).

Having focused on God’s authority and power, the psalmist then reflects on how God rescued them and Israel from oppressors (Psalm 129).

The psalmist reflects on how, in their youth, they had been attacked oppressed. But in this they see parallels between the nation’s experiences with oppression, most likely the exile, hence they encourage Israel to also say the same.

But despite this, the Lord is the one that defeats the wicked and breaks their control and rescued them. So the psalmist asks that going forward, the Lord continues to keep them from oppression. May all those who hate Jerusalem be put to shame. Let them wither and achieve nothing so that all people might see that the Lord’s favour is on his people.

In short, the psalmist is making the case that we’ve experienced oppression and struggles in the past and we may do so again. But the Lord was the one that rescued us before, so may he also do so again.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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