11. If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.
11. Si vir ambulans in spiritu et fallaciter mantiens, stillem tibi pro vino et pro sicera, tunc erit stillans populi hujus (hoc est, hic demum erit Propheta populi hujus: sicut etiam priore membro proprie vertendum est, si prophetem.)
The Prophet points out here another vice by which the people were infected -- that they wished to be soothed with flatteries: for all the ungodly think that they are in a manner exempt from God's judgment, when they hear no reproof; yea they think themselves happy, when they get flatterers, who are indulgent to their vices. This is now the disease which the Prophet discovers as prevailing among the people. Jerome sought out a meaning quite different here, as in the former verses; but I will not stop to refute him, for it is enough to give the real meaning of the Prophet. But as before he rendered women, princes, and thus perverted entirely the meaning, so he says here, I would I were a vain Prophet, that is, walking in vanity, and mendacious; as though Micah said "I wish I were false in denouncing on you the calamities of which I speak; for I would rather announce to you something joyful and favorable: but I cannot do this, for the Lord commands what is different." But there is nothing of this kind in the words of the Prophet. Let us then return to the text.
In short, Micah intimates that the Israelites rejected all sound doctrine, for they sought nothing but flatteries, and wished to be cherished in their vices; yea, they desired to be deceived by false adulation to their own ruin. It hence appears that they were not the people they wished to be deemed, that is, the people of God: for the first condition in God's covenant was, -- that he should rule among his people. Inasmuch then as these men would not endure to be governed by Divine power, and wished to have full and unbridled liberty, it was the same as though they had banished God far from them. Hence, by this proof, the Prophet shows that they had wholly departed from God, and had no intercourse with him. If there be then any man walking in the spirit, let him, he says, keep far from the truth; for he will not otherwise be borne by this people. -- How so? Because they will not have honest and faithful teachers. What is then to be done? Let flatterers come, and promise them plenty of wine and strong drink, and they will be their best teachers, and be received with great applause: in short, the suitable teachers of that people were the ungodly; the people could no longer bear the true Prophets; their desire was to have flatterers who were indulgent to all their corruptions.
Grant, Almighty God, that since we cannot otherwise really profit by thy word, than by having all our thoughts and affections subjected to thee, and offered to thee as a sacrifice, -- O grant, that we maysuffer thee, by the sound of thy word, so to pierce through everything within us, that being dead in ourselves, we may live to thee,and never suffer flatteries to become our ruin but that we may, on the contrary, patiently endure reproofs, however bitter they may be, only let them serve to us as medicine, by which our inward vices may be cleansed, until at length being thoroughly cleansed and formed into new creatures, we may, by a pious and holy life, really glorify thy name, and be received into that celestial glory, which has been purchased for us by the blood of thy only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1 Perhaps a more literal rendering would be thus,--
If a man, the follower of the spirit and of deception,
Speaks falsely, "I will prophesy to thee of wine and of strong drink,"
He then becomes the prophet of this people.
To walk after, or to follow, "the wind," as some render
If a man, walking in the spirit of falsehood and lies,
Prophesy unto thee for wine and for strong drink,
He shall be the prophet of this people.
He puts "for wine," etc., and not "of wine:" but the latter rendering is much more suitable to the context.--Ed.