c. 5:2-5a The Champion of the Kingdom
Within Micah’s second message, 3:1- 5:15, the passage of 5:2-5a stands as a pinnacle presenting the birth lineage and rule of the One who will be the divine restorer of the kingdom of Israel encompassing a righteous remnant of all the tribes of Jacob. The One, who’s earthly birthplace will be seen as lowly and insignificant yet will have an eminent and exalted origin from ancient days. This One will shepherd (feed) His people and provide security for them in the majesty of the name of the LORD. This One will be seen as great throughout all the earth and will be His people’s peace. Some understand that this passage, 5:2-5a, also fits as an integral component within a chiastic structure of 4:5 – 5:15.1
5:2 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are little among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.
In sharp contrast to the ungodly and vulnerable king (likely Zedekiah, see notes on 5:1) who is stricken with a rod on the cheek, Micah identifies One who will be a divine ruler in Israel. The significant word ‘but” (in most English versions), introduces this identification with first stating not the person of interest but this One’s birthplace. Bethlehem is stated as located in Ephrathah, the area encompassing this small town (also Ephrath, see Genesis 35:19 and 48:7). This was to certainly stated this way as to not confuse it with another Bethlehem located to the north in Zebulun, see Joshua 19:15. The word “Bethlehem,” Hebrew ḇêyṯ leḥem, has the meaning of “house of bread” and “Ephrathah,” Hebrew ’ep̱râṯ, means “fruitfulness.” Is it not fitting that hundreds of years later, the One who was born in the town identified as the “house of bread,” would declare that He was “the bread of life,” John 6:35. Also this One would be the source of “fruitfulness” in the lives of believers, see John chapter 15.
Micah identifies this small humble and insignificant town as “little among the clans of Judah.” Indeed it was not even listed among the locations allotted as an inheritance to the tribes of Jacob, Joshua chapter 15 and Nehemiah chapter 11. The word “clans,” Hebrew, ’elep, is often translated as 1,000 (and variations of this amount). It also is translated as “families” and in context of Micah 5:2 seems to indicate that Bethlehem was the home of families even if the people living there were small in number. The intentional description of this town as small, perhaps weak and insignificant is now juxtaposed with One who will be born there who is to be a mighty ruler with an exalted lineage.
Micah states that the One to be born in Bethlehem will come forth “for me.” It is extremely important to identify who is “me” in this verse. The speaker is identified in 4:6 and following as the LORD, including pronouns as “I” in 4:6, 7 and 13. There is no indication in chapter 5 that another speaker has been introduced. All of the text of Micah is introduced in 1:1 as “the word of the LORD.” Therefore, the identification of “for me” in 5:2 is certainly the LORD, (Yahweh). The “One” who is to be born in Bethlehem will “come forth”, (also KJV, NKJV, ESV, and NIV “come for”). The NASB has “go forth.” The intent is the same for this “One” will come forth/go forth on behalf of Yahweh with role of being “ruler in Israel.” The rulership of this One will be on behalf of Yahweh to fulfil the purposes Yahweh has determined. This One will rule the kingdom centered in Zion / Jerusalem as stated in 4:8. For a detailed explanation of this phrase and the section 5:2-5a see Leon Engman, Micah 5:2-5a, Bethlehem: Birthplace of the Messianic King, The Moody Handbook of the Messianic Prophecy, Moody Publishers, 2019, pages 1207-1217.
The identification of this One as the Messiah, the One to be born as the ruler of Israel is confirmed conclusively in Matthew 2:1-6. For an additional confirmation of the understanding by the Jews that Micah’s prophecy predicted that the Messiah (the Christ) would be born in Bethlehem, David’s birthplace, see John 7:41-42. Ancient Jewish writings also allude to a Messiah who is called the son of Joseph, “Messiah ben Joseph,” who is not the husband of Mary, but a reference that the Messiah also came from the line of Joseph, the son of Jacob. Many ancient Jewish writings point to two Messiahs, one from David’s line who would be king and reign over His kingdom forever and another from Joseph’s line who would die an atoning death and then rise again. There is a connection with Bethlehem as well. Joseph’s mother Rachel gave birth in Bethlehem to Joseph’s brother Benjamin. Thus the connection with Bethlehem of the mother of Joseph, Rachel predates by many centuries the birth of David in this town. There is only one Messiah but the possibility of this One having a connection to both the linage of David and of Joseph and a connection through both of these lineages to the town of Bethlehem, is not widely discussed in Christian Literature at either the popular level or among Biblical scholars. However, David C. Mitchell’s book Messiah ben Joseph, published in 2016 should lead to more discussion.2
The prophet Isaiah provides additional details of the son (the Messiah) to be born in chapters 7-12 which is a sub-section of Isaiah prophecy and could be entitled as the “Book of Immanuel.” First the Son will be born of a virgin, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look a virgin will conceive, and give birth to a son, and you will call him Immanuel [God with us].” Isaiah 7:14. Note the DASV in this verse adds the meaning of Immanuel as “God with us,” as does the NLT. For fulfillment of this prophecy see Matthew 1:22-23. Second, the land of Israel is described as belonging to Immanuel (God with us), Isaiah 8:8. Third, Isaiah describes specific details about the names and the rule of the Son in 9:6-7
For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given,
and the government will be upon his shoulders:
and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government
and of peace there will be no end.
He will rule on the throne of David,
and over his kingdom,
to establish it,
and to uphold it with justice
and with righteousness from this time forth forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
Fourth, a remnant who will return to Israel in the far future will truly rely on their God, Isaiah 10:20 and fifth, the One to come, is described as a “branch” who will spring from the stem of Jesse (from the line of Jesse implying the line of Jesse’s son King David). Isaiah 11:1. For other references to the Messiah as the “Branch” see Isaiah 4:2, Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Zechariah 3:8 and 6:12. In the passage Isaiah 11:1-10, the prophet describes the anointing of the Son by the Spirit, His righteous rule and peaceful kingdom. See also, Luke 3:22-23, 32 and Acts 13:22-23.
In addition to these five chapters, Isaiah describes the Messiah in many other passages, which have New Testament confirmation. For example, see Isaiah 28:16 (1 Peter 2:4-6); Isaiah 40:3-5 (Matthew 3:1-3); Isaiah 42:1-4 (Matthew 12:15-21); Isaiah 42:6 (Luke 2:29-32); Isaiah 50:6 (Matthew 26:67; 27:26, 30); Isaiah 52:14 (Philippians 2:7-11); Isaiah 53:3 (Luke 23:18; John 1:11; 7:5); Isaiah 53:4-5 (Romans 5:6-8); Isaiah 53:7 (Matthew 27:12-14; John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-19); Isaiah 53:9 (Matthew 27:57); Isaiah 53:12 (Mark 15:28); and Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:17-19, 21). This is a sampling only of many passages in Isaiah which are clear references to the Messiah and His role as the coming ruler of Israel. 3
The last phrase of Micah 5:2, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days, is often understood as a reference to the eternal existence of the Messiah, the One to be born in Bethlehem4 and is in concert with other verses such as Isaiah 9:6 (Everlasting Father), John 1:1-3; 8:58; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:1-3 and Revelation 1:8. However, other scholars understand this phrase as a reference to His Davidic lineage which had its origins long ago and not necessarily to the Messiah’s eternal existence.5
The English word “origin” (DASV and NIV) is the Hebrew môṣâ’â, is difficult to translate definitively. It is translated as “goings forth” in the KJV, NKJV, and NASB and as “coming forth” in the ESV. Its only other occurrence is in 2 Kings 10:27, translated as “sewer” or “latrine” occurs in an entirely different context. The context of Micah 5:2 seems to point to the ancient ancestry of the One born in Bethlehem as being from David’s lineage. See TWOT entry 893d. Also, refer to discussion in this study on Micah 7:14 and 7:20 for the phrase “days of old.”
The DASV, “from ancient days” is similar to the NIV “from ancient times.” The NIV text note to this phrase is “from days of eternity.” The KJV and NKJV text has “from everlasting;” the NASB text has “from the days of eternity” and the ESV text has “from ancient times.” The word “ancient” in the DASV is the Hebrew ‘ôlâm, which has the connotation of days so long ago as to be without measure.6 It also express the ancient Hebrew’s understanding of existence in the eternal past and into the eternal future. For example, God is called everlasting in Genesis 21:33. God, in Exodus 3:15 declared that His name would be forever, see also Isaiah 63:12. God will reign forever and ever, Exodus 15:18; Micah 4:7. God declared that He would live forever, Deuteronomy 32:40. Perhaps the highest expression of God’s eternal existence in the O.T. is found in Psalm 90:2, “Before the mountains were brought forth, before you formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.” Psalm 93:2 declares about God, “you are from everlasting.” Jeremiah exclaimed, “the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and everlasting King.” Jeremiah 10:10. There are also many other expressions of eternal things connected with God such as His covenants: Genesis 17:7, 8, 19; Jeremiah 50:5; Ezekiel 37:26; salvation: Isaiah 45:17; 51:6; righteousness: Isaiah 51:8; Daniel 9;24; lovingkindness: Isaiah 54:8; Jeremiah 33:11; life: Daniel 12:2; light: Isaiah 60:19-20 and ways: Habakkuk 3:6. In Isaiah 26:4 the prophet declared, “Trust in the LORD forever; for in the LORD, yes the LORD, you have an everlasting rock.” These are a few of the O.T. Scriptures in which the Hebrew peoples of old and all who read God’s word today glean an understanding of the eternality of God. See above for selected N.T. references relating to the eternal existence of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
5:3 So he will give them up,
until the time she who is in labor has given birth.
Then the rest of his brothers will return
to the children of Israel.
The word “so,” Hebrew ḵên, at the beginning of 5:3 is often translated as “therefore” indicating the direct link between verses 2 and 3. The NIV, “Therefore Israel will be abandoned” although a paraphrase of the Hebrew text, gives the intended sense of the subject which is an explanation of the word “them” in this first phrase of vs. 3. Those who are “them,” Israel will be given up or abandoned by God, “he” in vs. 3 which corresponds to “me” in vs. 2. The Godhead is clearly in view in these two verses. The “me” in vs. 2 is the One, the Father, who sends forth the One, the Son, who will be born in Bethlehem to be ruler in Israel. The “he” in vs. 3 is the Father who will give up or abandon Israel until the time of the birth of the One, the Son who is to be ruler in Israel, vs 2.
The giving up of them, Israel, is likely referring to the exile of the people of Judah, which Micah had foretold in 1:16. From the time of the exile, both by the Assyrians of the northern kingdom of Israel and by the Babylonians of the southern kingdom of Judah, there would not be a ruler in David’s line over the Jewish people until the One to be born will be declared as “King of the Jews,” Matthew 2:2. There is in Micah 5:3 a compression in time of the first and second advents of the Messiah. This is often seen in the prophets of the O.T. For example, the prophecy of times to come in Daniel 9:24-27 comprise both of the advents of Christ. See also Isaiah chapter 11 and Hosea 3:4-5. Similar to the message of Micah 5:2-3 is that of Hosea 3:4-5,
“4 For the children of Israel will remain many days without a king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, and without ephod or idols. 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and will tremble before the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.”
A misunderstanding of the compression of time involving the first and second advents of the Messiah may lead some to conclude that the Messiah was ruler of Israel in all aspects including ruling on the Davidic throne from the time of His birth. However, the New Testament is clear that the first advent of Christ did not involve His physical rule over Israel and the earth. This will come when He returns at His second advent to defeat His enemies, restore the kingdom of Israel, and establish a physical rule on earth for a thousand years. Some may infer that the Messiah now rules spiritually on the Davidic throne in heaven over earth. However, this is not what is taught in either the Old or New Testaments. Christ sits on the right side of the Father in heaven, Psalm 110:1, Matthew 22:44; 26:64; Luke 22:69; Acts 2:34-35; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:12-13 and 12:2. Christ will sit on the side of the Father in heaven until His enemies will be made His footstool when He returns to defeat them and then establish His rule by physically sitting on the Davidic throne in Jerusalem. The concept of a present spiritual rule by Christ is often confused with His Headship of the church, Ephesians 1:22; 5:23 and Colossians 1:18. It is true that Christ presently “rules” the Church which is described as His body, Colossians 1:18 but He does not share the physical rule of the earth with Satan who is given this title, “god of this world,” 2 Corinthians 4:4. “the prince of the power of the air,” Ephesians 2:2; and that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one,” 1 John 5:19. The current corrupt world is blinded by Satan, but even he is subject to the Father who sits enthroned in majestic heavenly glory and it is the Father who has always ruled and will always rule His created order. The physical rule of the Son, the messiah will commence at His second advent and continue for a thousand years, Revelation 20:1-6. This time on earth will have a certain starting point and a certain ending point. When Satan is finally defeated and thrown into the eternal lake of fire, Revelation 20:10; then the physical rule of Christ will transition into the eternal state where the Father and the Lamb, the Messiah will rule on their throne, Revelation 22:3.
The giving up or abandonment of the Jewish people by God involves the exile of the Jews from their homeland and the lack of a Jewish king ruling on the throne of David, until the time she who is in labor has given birth, second phrase of Micah 5:3. The identification of “she who is in labor” is understood by Bible scholars in three ways. It could be (1) a direct reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus, Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23; or (2) a reference to Bethlehem mentioned in 5:2; or (3) to a reference to Judah and more specifically to Zion, which may be inferred from Micah 4:9-10. We are simply not given a specific answer to the identification of the one who gives birth. The central and most important point of this phrase is that there will be a future birth involving One who will be ruler in Israel. The emphasis must be directed at the Messiah who is the concern of the next phrase in 5:3.
The final phrase in 5:3, Then the rest of his brothers will return to the children of Israel, is clearly a reference to Christ, the Messiah who will be born a Jew and will involve a time when “His brothers” will return to the Children of Israel. This return will be completed at the second advent of Christ but is happening now (the ingathering) in the days leading up to the return of the Messiah. Micah had previously made a prophesy of one specific event of this time in 2:12-13 in which is described the rescue by the returning Messiah of a remnant of the Jewish people who will be surrounded by their enemies.
Isaiah foretold that one of the roles of the Messiah will involve the restoration of the survivors of Israel,
“He said, It is too insignificant that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and to restore the survivors of Israel.
I will also make you a light to the nations,
that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6
The process of the spiritual restoration of the Jewish people certainly began at the time of the first advent of the Messiah but this process will only be complete at His second advent. Many Jewish “brothers” of the Messiah have been restored to Him spiritually throughout the ages since His first advent by their belief in Him as their Savior and Messiah. But the final “physical” restoration will only be complete when Messiah comes to rule the earth from His throne which will be set up in Jerusalem / Zion. Isaiah 2:2-4, Micah 4:1-7; Isaiah 9:7; 11:11-16; 16:5; Jeremiah 3:15-18; Ezekiel 43:7; and Zechariah 6:12-13.
5:4 He will stand and will feed his flock
in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they will be secure,
for at that time he will be great to the ends of the earth.
5:5a And this one will be our peace.
Verses 4-5a depict certain aspects of the rule of the One to be born in Bethlehem, vs. 2 and the source of this One’s strength. The “He” at the beginning of vs. 4 most certainly corresponds with the “his” (his brothers) of vs. 3. It is a reference to the Messiah, Jesus Christ and His ministry among His people. The word “stand” Hebrew ‘âmaḏ, occurs over 500 times in the O.T. often translated as arise, stand, standing, and stood and also has the meaning of endure and remaining. In the context of Micah 5:4 Messiah is the One who will “stand” or “arise” indicating that His divine, awesome and powerful enduring presence as King is mightily displayed among His people. The word ‘âmaḏ also occurs in relation to the presence of the LORD in Isaiah 3:13, “The LORD rises to make the accusation; he “stands” to judge the peoples.” Isaiah 11:10 states, “In that day the root of Jesse will be raised (stand) for a sign of the peoples; the nations will seek guidance from him; his resting place will be glorious.” At the second coming of the Messiah, He will “stand” on the Mount of Olives, Zechariah 14:4. God’s Spirit will abide (stand) in the midst of His people, Haggai 2:5. This word also refers to angelic beings who are in God’s presence, Isaiah 6:2 and to the Archangel Michael who stand or arise to attend to God’s work, Daniel 12:1. It also refers to significant Old Testament saints who “stand” in God’s presence, Genesis 18:22, Deuteronomy 4:10 and Jeremiah 15:1.
The meaning of “stand” is not exhausted in the above examples. It also has the glorious expression of enduring forever. Occurrences of this Hebrew word ‘âmaḏ, in the Psalms for example, are accompanied by modifying words such as forever and everlasting. God’s faithfulness, works, words and commands will endure forever as will the praise given to Him. See Psalm 33:11; 105:10; 111:3, 10; 112:3, 9; 119:90-91 and 148:6. The Psalms declare that the LORD endures forever. The word “endure” in vs 26 below is the Hebrew word ‘âmaḏ.
25 Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth;
the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you will endure;
yes, all of them will wear out like a garment;
you will change them like clothes and shed them.
27 But you are the same,
your years will never end. (Psalm 102:5-27)
One of the most significant aspects of His presence is that He will “feed / shepherd, Hebrew râ‘â, His flock. This certainly is a direct reference to the role of the Messiah who will serve God by being a shepherd to God’s people (flock). Micah had previously stated that in the far future the King (Messiah) will gather His flock, the remnant, and put them in a secure place, in the midst of a pasture, and then the King will break out and lead them though the gate (to the safety and peace of His earthly kingdom), Micah 2:12-13. Also in Micah 7:14, the prophet declared, regarding the Messiah, that the people of God are “the flock of your inheritance.”
This ministry of a king-shepherd was also said of King David, 2 Samuel 5:2 and 1 Chronicles 11:2. King David acknowledged the shepherding ministry of His LORD, Psalm 23:2. An aspect of this ministry as shepherd is described in Psalm 109:31, “For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him (the poor) from those that condemn his (the poor) soul. Words in brackets have been added for clarification. Isaiah stated the shepherding ministry of God as One who will tenderly care for His flock, Isaiah 40:11. Another prophet prophesized of the millennial ministry of the Messiah, described as “My servant David, in Ezekiel 37:24, “My servant David will be king over them; and they will all have one shepherd. They will also walk in my regulations, and observe my statutes, and do them.” Another prophet stated, “the LORD of hosts has visited his flock, the house of Judah, and will make them like his mighty war horse in battle.” Zechariah 10:3.
A significant refence to the “shepherd” as Messiah during His first advent occurs in Zechariah 13:7, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man that is my associate,” says the LORD of hosts. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones.” This prophecy in Zechariah was fulfilled by Jesus Christ at his crucifixion and the reference to the “sheep being scattered” was declared by Jesus in Matthew 26:31 and Mark 14:27 as referring to His disciples.
This shepherding role of the Messiah who was to be born in Bethlehem was also confirmed when the magi from the east came to Jerusalem seeking the One had been born King of the Jews, Matthew 2:6. Matthew also records the words of Jesus Christ who referred to Himself as the shepherd of the flock (His people), Matthew 26:31. See note above regarding Zechariah 13:7. The apostle John recorded one of several of Christ’s “I am” statements in which He clearly stated His role as the “good shepherd,” John 10:11. Jesus is referred to as the “great Shepherd of the sheep” in Hebrews 13:20. The apostle Peter referred to Jesus Christ as the “Shepherd and Guardian of your souls” as recorded in 1 Peter 2:25 and as the “Chief Shepherd” in 1 Peter 5:4. Finally the apostle John revealed what he had witnessed in his vision of heaven regarding the future role of the “lamb” as the shepherd to those saints who will suffer during the days of the great tribulation, Revelation 7:17.
In 5:4, Micah continues this wonderful messianic prophecy of the One coming who will be born in Bethlehem by stating that He will accomplish His ministry (1) in the strength of the LORD and (2) in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. These are two different descriptions of how the Messiah will accomplish the work God has assigned to Him. The first statement refers to the empowerment the Messiah will receive from God (the Father). The New Testament reveals this in Luke 4:14; 5:17 and Acts 10:38. In the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah’s enablement of strength was also emphasized by a contemporary of Micah,
“1 There will grow up a shoot out of the stump of Jesse,
and a branch out of his roots will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.” (Isaiah 11:1-2)
“1 The Spirit of the sovereign LORD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and freedom to prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 to support those who mourn in Zion,
to give to them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of the spirit of despondency.
They may be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD to glorify him.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
Isaiah also proclaimed,
“And now the LORD speaks
who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
that Israel might be regathered to him
for I will be honored in the eyes of the LORD,
my God is my strength.” (Isaiah 49:5)
In an much earlier day, King David, speaking of the Messiah, stated,
“1 The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
2 The LORD will stretch out your mighty ruling scepter from Zion.
Rule in the midst of your enemies.” (Psalm 110:1-2)
The strength, Hebrew ‘ôz, (same Hebrew word for strength in Micah 5:4), that comes from God for His people to accomplish those things He desires is often mentioned in the Old Testament. For example see, Psalm 28:7-8; 29:11; 46:1; 61:3; 62:7, 11; 68:34-35; 81:1; 84:5; 105:4; 118:14; 138:3; Isaiah 12:2; 45:24; and Jeremiah 16:19.
The second statement refers to the ministry of the Messiah that is performed “in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.” The “name” of God is another expression of saying God Himself. His existence and name cannot be separated. The intent of this second statement that Messiah’s ministry is performed through the majestic, sovereign, royal authority of Yahweh Himself. There is no higher, greater or exalted authority and as such the Messiah will succeed in all of His works. None of them can or will fail. The words of the song of Moses are still resonating today, “For I will proclaim the name of the LORD, ascribe greatness to our God.” Deuteronomy 32:3. Daniel proclaimed long ago as recorded in Daniel 2:20-22,
“20 Praise be the name of God forever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and the seasons;
he removes kings and sets up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise,
and knowledge to those who have understanding.
22 He reveals the deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and light dwells with him.”
David, before He became king in Israel, stood alone before a terrifying foe and declared, “You come against me with a sword, spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” 1 Samuel 17:45. The Messiah has triumphed over an even greater foe (Satan) than did His ancestor, and will again triumph over all His enemies when He returns to the earth to establish His kingdom. He will do this both in the strength and authority of the Father, Yahweh.
The short phrase “of the LORD his God” in Micah 5:4 clearly establishes the unique relationship of the Godhead. The Messiah will successfully complete His ministry in the name of the LORD his God who is His Father. King David recognized this relationship and spoke of it as recorded in Psalm 110:1-2,
“1 The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
2 The LORD will stretch out your mighty ruling scepter from Zion.
Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
That this prophecy of David directly refers to the Lord Jesus Christ as the second person of the Godhead is confirmed in the New Testament in Acts 2:34-36 and Hebrews 10:11-13. Another Psalm, also records this unique relationship of God the Father and His Son,
“6 I have established my king
on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will announce the decree.
The LORD said to me:
“You are my son;
this day have I have become your father.
8 Ask me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance,
and the ends of the earth as your possession.
9 You will break them with a rod of iron;
you will dash them in pieces like a potter’s clay pot.” (Psalm 2:6-9)
The N.T. confirms the unique relationship between the Father and the Son (the Messiah). The Father sent the Son to become an atoning sacrifice for all who would believe in Him, John 3:16. During His first earthly ministry, the Son often spoke of doing the will of His Father. See for example, Matthew 26:39; John 5:30; 8:28 and 15:10.
The result of the Messiah’s ministry in the strength and authority of the Father (His LORD and God) is that His flock whom He feeds as a shepherd, “will be secure.” The word “secure” is the Hebrew yâšaḇ, literally meaning to abide, endure, live securely and sit (down). Those who have faith in the Son, the Messiah Jesus Christ will be firmly grounded and established and have no fear of being cast adrift. In the N. T. John chapter 10 expresses this idea, “I came so that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” (10:10); “and I give them eternal life; and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”(10:28-29). Micah’s message of the believer’s security in the Messiah was a needed balm for those in his generation facing the terrifying armies of the Assyrians and those in a later generation who would be swept away by the armies of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. It also would be a comfort to the believing Jewish remnant in the days of the brutality of the Romans in AD 70 and 135 and on through the ages that followed to the present day and continuing until the second advent of the Messiah.
Isaiah proclaimed this truth as recorded in 28:16 “Therefore this is what the sovereign LORD says, “Look, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation. One who believes will not panic.” And in 33:6, “He will be stability in your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of the LORD produces this treasure.” The widest fulfillment of this promise of security will come during the millennial reign of Christ as the final phrase in Micah 5:4 makes clear.
The next aspect of the rule and ministry of the Messiah as described in Micah 5:4 as, for at that time he will be great to the ends of the earth. This phrase begins with the linking Hebrew word ḵiy, often translated as “for” which is followed by the Hebrew word ‘aṯâ which can be translated as “now” or “at this (that) time.” The DASV translates these words as “for at that time,” and other versions such as the ESV, KJV and NKJV, have “for now.” The timing, (now) present or (at that time) future is determined within the context of this phrase. The words “he will be great to the ends of the earth,” certainly (1) refers to the Messiah (he) and (2) refers to a time when his greatness will be known throughout all the earth. This cannot be said of the days of His first advent or even for the interval between His first and second advents. Although Christianity has had a great impact to many cultures and nations of the earth there is still a large proportion of the earth’s population who either do not have any knowledge of Him or only recognize Him as an ancient Jewish prophet. Indeed most of His own race reject Him as their Messiah. Their acceptance of Him will come only at His second advent when He comes to establish His earthly kingdom. Only at this time will His own people, who will be reduced to a remnant, repent of their national sin of rejecting Him during His first advent and call upon Him to be rescued from their enemies which will surround them. The confession of their national sin is recorded in Isaiah 53:1-9. The pleading with their Messiah to return is recorded in Zechariah 12:10-14and Hosea 5:15-6:3. Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews during His first advent, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kills the prophets, and stone the ones who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not! 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I say to you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Matthew 23:37-39. See also Luke 13:34-35. After pleading for their Messiah to return and rescue them, He will respond to their desperate prayer and indeed break them from their enclosure, Micah 2:12-13 and lead them to Zion where He will reign over them, Isaiah 35:10.
A further aspect of the rule and ministry of the Messiah described in this section is recorded in Micah 5:5a, “and this one will be our peace.” The Messiah who was described by Isaiah as the Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6, will ensure both the physical and spiritual peace of those who trust in Him. The English word peace is the Hebrew šâlôm, often transliterated as shalom. See “peace” in the Selected Topics section for an explanation of the meaning of šâlôm, and some of its most significant occurrences in the O.T. This depiction of the One who will be “peace” for His faithful followers is a fitting conclusion to Micah’s short portrait of the Messiah, 5:2-5a beginning with His birth and concluding with His victory over those who oppose Him and His establishment of His glorious peaceful kingdom. The KJV translates this phrase as “for this man shall be the peace.” Only the Messiah can bring perfect peace physically within His kingdom and spiritually within the lives of those who have faith in Him. Isaiah records the sense of this meaning in the wider context of Isaiah 26:1-4, (bolding in vs. 3 intentional).
“1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
We have a strong city;
God has set up salvation like walls and ramparts.
2 Open the gates,
so that the righteous nation
that keeps faith may enter.
3 You will keep in perfect peace,
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
4 Trust in the LORD forever;
for in the LORD, yes the LORD,
you have an everlasting rock.”
Notes for 5:2-5a
- Robert B. Chisholm Jr. Interpreting the Minor Prophets, pages 141-142. See Also Thomas Constable, Micah, page 46.
- David C. Mitchell, Messiah ben Joseph, Campbell Publications, 2016.
- For a detailed listing see the author’s Isaiah: A Messianic Study, published as an electronic document on the Servantsplace.org website. See also the chart on Israel’s Future Kingdom, The MacArthur Study Bible, NASB, Thomas Nelson Inc., 2006, page 1032.
- Micah, in the King James Bible Commentary, Thomas Nelson Publishers Inc., 1999, page 1052. Walter Kaiser, Micah, page 64. Thomas Constable, Micah, pages 47-48. Also see discussion by Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, Revised Edition, Moody Publishers, 2014, page 229; Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, Moody Press, 1999, page 275 and by Thomas E. McComiskey, Micah, page 427.
- Kenneth L. Barker, Micah, page 98. Bruce K. Waltke, Micah, pages 276-277. These two references are cited here as examples of many others who hold this viewpoint.
- John A. Martin, Micah, page 1486.