John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

11 (Micah 7:11)

Verse 11

Micah pursues the subject on which he had previously spoken, — that though the Church thought itself for a time to be wholly lost, yet God would become its deliverer. He says first, that the day was near, in which they were to build the wall. The word גדר, gidar, means either a mound or a wall; so it ought to be distinguished from a wall, that is, a strong fortress. He then intimates that the time would come, when God would gather his Church, and preserve it, as though it were defended on every side by walls. For we know that the scattering of the Church is compared to the pulling down of walls or fences: as when a person pulls down the fence of a field or a vineyard, or breaks down all enclosures; so when the Church is exposed as a prey to all, she is said to be like an open field or a vineyard, which is without any fence. Now, on the other hand, the Prophet says here, that the time would come, when the faithful shall again build walls, by which they may be protected from the assaults and plunder of enemies, A day then to build thy walls

Then he adds, This day shall drive afar off the edict; some render it tribute; but the word properly means an edict, and this best suits the passage; for the Prophet’s meaning is, that the people would not, as before, be subject to the tyranny of Babylon. For after the subversion of Jerusalem, the Babylonians, no doubt, triumphed very unfeelingly over the miserable people, and uttered dreadful threatening. The Prophet, therefore, under the name of edict, includes that cruel and tyrannical dominion which the Babylonians for a time exercised. We know what God denounces on the Jews by Ezekiel,

‘Ye would not keep my good laws;
I will therefore give you laws which are not good,
which ye shall be constrained to keep;
and yet ye shall not live in them,’
Ezekiel 20:25.)

Those laws which were not good were the edicts of which the Prophet now speaks. That day then shall drive far away the edict, that the Jews might not dread the laws of their enemies. For the Babylonians no doubt forbade, under the severest punishment, any one from building even a single house in the place where Jerusalem formerly was; for they wished that place to remain desolate, that the people might know that they had no hope of restoration. That day then shall put afar off; or drive to a distance, the edict; for liberty shall be given to the Jews to build their city; and then they shall not tremblingly expect every hour, until new edicts come forth, denouncing grievous punishments on whomsoever that would dare to encourage his brethren to build the temple of God.

Some draw the Prophet’s words to another meaning: they first think that he speaks only of the spiritual kingdom of Christ, and then they take רחק, rechek, in the sense of extending or propagating, and consider this to be the Gospel which Christ, by the command of the Father, promulgated through the whole world. It is indeed true that David uses the word decree in Psalms 2:0, while speaking of the preaching of the Gospel; and it is also true, that the promulgation of that decree is promised in Psalms 110:0, ‘The rod of his power will Jehovah send forth from Zion.’ But this passage ought not to be thus violently perverted; for the Prophet no doubt means, that the Jews would be freed from all dread of tyranny when God restored them to liberty; and רחק, rechek, does not mean to extend or propagate, but to drive far away. That day then shall drive away the decree, so that the faithful shall be no more subject to tyrannical commands. We now perceive the true meaning of the Prophet.

The faithful doubtless prayed in their adversities, and depended on such prophecies as we find in Psalms 102:0,

‘The day is now come to show mercy to Zion, and to build its walls; for thy servants pity her stones.’

Nor did the faithful pray thus presumptuously, but taking confidence, as though God had dictated a form of prayer by his own mouth, they dealt with God according to his promise, “O Lord, thou hast promised the rebuilding of the city, and the time has been prefixed by Jeremiah and by other Prophets: since then the time is now completed, grant that the temple and the holy city may again be built.”

Some render the words, “In the day in which thou shalt build (or God shall build) thy walls — in that day shall be removed afar off the decree.” But I doubt not but that the Prophet promises here distinctly to the faithful both the restoration of the city and a civil freedom; for the sentence is in two parts: the Prophet intimates first, that the time was now near when the faithful would build their own walls, that they might not be exposed to the will of their enemies, — and then he adds, that they would be freed from the dread of tyranny; for God, as it is said by Isaiah, would break the yoke of the burden, and the scepter of the oppressor, (Isaiah 9:4;) and it is altogether the same kind of sentence.

- John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible