(1) O daughter of troops.—This verse coheres better with the former chapter, to which it is attached in the Hebrew Version. Micah again interpolates a prediction of trouble and dismay between the sentences describing triumph and glory. The sentence of smiting the judge has its historical fulfilment in the indignities which happened to King Zedekiah.
Though thou be little.—Strictly, art little among the thousands, or chiliads: a word analogous to our “hundreds;” a division of the tribes. In St. Matthew the word is paraphrased by princes, as representing the chiliads.
Yet out of thee.—St. Matthew—“for out of thee,” the illative conjunction—helps to show that the quotation is really a paraphrase, conveying the ultimate intention of the prophet’s words, which contrasts the smallness of the chiliad with the greatness of its destiny.
Whose goings forth have been from of old.—The nativity of the governor of Israel is evidently contrasted with an eternal nativity, the depth of which mystery passes the comprehension of human intellect: it must be spiritually discerned. The Creed of the Church expresses the article of faith as “Begotten of His Father before all worlds.” He came forth unto Me to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been of old, from everlasting, from the days of antiquity.
His God.—The Messiah was to be subordinate to the Father in heaven—“My Father is greater than I”—and they—i.e., His subjects—shall abide. It is impossible to conceive this prophecy as satisfied by any event short of that which is the foundation of the Christian faith.
When the Assyrian shall come into our land.—This may refer to the imminent apprehension of the invasion of Sennacherib, but the actual event does not correspond to it. It may look forward to the time when the enemies of Israel attacked the Jews in the Maccabean period, and the shepherds, seven or eight—i.e., an indefinite number—successfully resisted the attacks upon the flock. The intention of the passage may be spiritually interpreted as pointing to the eight principal, strictly anointed men, who, as Christian pastors, receive their commission from the Messiah.
I will cut off thy horses.—The possession of horses was imperatively forbidden to the Jewish king (Deuteronomy 17:16), and Isaiah describes the land as at this time “full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.” As symbolising the power of man, these horses shall be cut off, and the reliance of the Church shall be on God alone. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).
Thy cities—i.e., the pollutions, tumults, &c., of which the cities were the strongholds.