"Woe is me!..." Micah 7:1
Have you ever felt like a failure? All your time, effort and energy have accomplished nothing? As they say "Welcome to the club." The NRSV translates Micah 7:1-2 as, "Woe is me! For I have become like one who, after the summer fruit has gathered, after the vintage has been gleaned, finds no cluster to eat; there is no first-ripe fig for which I hunger. The faithful have disappeared from the land, and there is no one left who is upright."
In the first six verses, Micah goes on to say, not only is there none upright, instead they are murders, skilled at evil, officials who take bribes and pervert justice, no one is trustworthy, not even your wife or best friend and households have become each other’s enemies.
Doesn't that remind you of Elijah's lament in 1 Kings 19:10, "I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away." Micah and Elijah are not the lone strangers. Isaiah says, "But I say, 'I waste away, I waste away. Woe is me! For the traitors have betrayed, with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.'" (Isaiah 24:16) Jeremiah complains in Jeremiah 15:10, "Woe is me, my mother, that you bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me." In Matthew 11:3 John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another." Even the Messiah says in Isaiah 49:4, "I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God."
So, if you struggle with a sense of failure or lack of accomplishment in the place and time God has chosen for you to serve Him, "Take heart." Jesus uses that phrase often to encourage. "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." (Matthew 9:2) “Take heart, daughter, your faith has made you well." (Matthew 9:22) “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid." (Matthew 14:27) “Take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Essentially, Micah says the same thing. In a comprehensive manner, he explains the reasons to "Take heart" over the next fourteen verses.
He begins in verse seven by explaining the basis for his hope and expectation. "I will look to the LORD...the God of my salvation...(who) will hear me." In verses eight through ten, Micah describes how to live in hope as a justified sinner. He admits his sin and tells those who rejoice in his apparent failure when he falls; He will pick me up. The LORD my Salvation will bring me into the light. He will vindicate me. When my Salvation responds those who mockingly say, "Where is the LORD your God?" are put to shame.
Micah says this will be true for all the LORD God's inheritance. His kingdom will be extended from sea to sea and mountain to mountain. He will shepherd His people into fertile pastures. The LORD on that day says He will perform miracles like their delivery from slavery in Egypt. The shame is not just those who gloat over Micah, but all the nations will see His splendor and be terrified.
The last three verses are a magnificent crescendo to this passage. The NET Bible translates these verses as "There is no other God like you! You forgive sin and pardon the rebellion of...your people...You delight in showing loyal love...You...have mercy on us...You will conquer our evil deeds...and hurl our sins into the depths of the sea...You will be loyal to Jacob...Abraham which you promised on oath."
One of my favorite verses, when I am discouraged, is Psalm 73:23-24, "Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory." Whatever your situation or emotional state as a disciple of Jesus Christ, one who loves God and His children, the passage in Psalm 73 as well as Micah 7 is more valid than whatever your struggles.
LORD God our Salvation, thank You for being faithful to Your Word. Your Word is Your bond. Please help us take You at Your Word. No matter what appears real, we have no reason to ask "Where is my God?" You are accomplishing everything You promised; for Your glory and Your children's good.