Therefore I strike you with a grievous blow,
making you desolate because of your sins.
You shall eat, but not be satisfied,
and there shall be hunger within you;
you shall put away, but not preserve,
and what you preserve I will give to the sword.
You shall sow, but not reap;
you shall tread olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil;
you shall tread grapes, but not drink wine.
Micah is explaining to Israel the consequences of their actions. They have abandoned God and forsaken righteousness for the pleasures and treasures of the world. Israel did in ancient times as we do today. We abandon the spirit to please the flesh. For the want of simple worldly things, we bypass righteousness and the work involved, and we do what we rationalize as necessary to make our existence comfortable and easy.
In verses eleven and twelve Micah writes about the wickedness that brings about the consequences described in verses thirteen through fifteen.
Shall I acquit the man with wicked scales
and with a bag of deceitful weights?
Your rich men are full of violence;
your inhabitants speak lies,
and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.
Most would say Micah is writing about the so called greedy business tycoons of the world and in some cases this is right. But the stereotypical rich and powerful are only a small portion of who these verses are addressing.
“Wicked scales” and “bag of deceitful weights” are what we all tote around. We whip them out when we feel it is appropriate. We’ll use our deceit to avoid hard things and to stay within our comforts.
The “rich men” being referred to includes the rich, which is a relative term. I do not consider myself rich in worldly things, but to those who possess less in worldly objects, I am rich. Those who possess more than me, I consider them rich. And I’m sure those who possess more than those that I consider to be rich, well they consider them to be rich.
You might not consider yourself rich, but there is always someone out there who does. So to read this verse and think Micah is only speaking of those that you consider to be rich are the only ones doing as Micah says in verse twelve is folly.
…speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth…
We all consider the other guy rich and we all covet what they have. In doing so, we break the laws of God and allow ourselves to not seek righteousness. We suffer the consequences as laid out in verses thirteen through fifteen above.
We eat but are not satisfied. There will always be someone who possesses more in our eyes. We shall toil and save, and never find the happiness we seek. We expect the worldly objects and possessions to somehow justify who we are and what we do. We can preserve them in vaults and safes, but never will they give us the comfort we seek. They are hollow rewards.
Micah is letting us know the consequences of our human nature, our covetousness. The abandonment of God and righteousness leads to lies and deceit, and there is no reward for such.
It all comes back to the words of King Solomon:
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God,
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