Understanding Micah 7:8:
The Book of Micah has the pronouncements of Prophet Micah, the 12th Minor Prophet in the Hebrew Bible.
For the most part, the book is a prophetic warning of the looming judgment over the nation of Israel.
As the prophet explains, the judgment is because they have forsaken God’s law and have oppressed the destitute. But even amidst the judgment, God’s mercy and love are still revealed.
For instance, In Micah 7:8, the prophet offers hope of God’s intervention even when things go south.
Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. 7:8
Let us break down the verse to understand the message the prophet was putting across.
Rejoice not over me, O my enemy
The first thing to note is the shift in subject.
Even though these are the words of the prophet, he is voicing the words of the entire nation.
So, the nation of Israel is addressing its enemy. The shift in the subject is important because it is a turning point in the chapter as Israel (represented by Jerusalem) confronts her enemies.
The Hebrew words used for the phrase “o mine enemy” are also important to consider.
The Hebrew word used for the enemy is feminine, and this implies that they were not referring to a specific enemy but all enemies collectively.
Israel was most likely addressing Babylon and Edom, which were considered Israel’s greatest adversaries at the time.
The Psalmist grouped these two cities together in Psalms 137:7-8 as a way of demonstrating that they were the chief enemies of the nation of Israel. However, the term enemy could also be interpreted to refer to any other challenge that the nation may face, e.g., famine.
It makes sense that their enemies would rejoice when they are going through tumultuous times.
If Israel suffered for whatever reason, it would be weaker as a nation, which would give the enemy an upper hand.
For instance, the enemy could easily overpower them through a military invasion and enslave them or force them to pay tribute.
By telling the enemy not to rejoice over them, Israel is passing an important message of hope – that even though things look bleak, their God would eventually show up for them as he had done in the past. And they would have the last laugh.
When I fall, I shall rise
It is worth noting that the Scripture says “when I fall” and not “if I fall.”
It means that Israel had accepted God’s judgment.
They knew they couldn’t escape it because they deserved it.
It was just a matter of time. See, as much as God is loving, he is also just. And justice demands that offenders should be punished.
This is why the Bible says the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). But even though Israel had accepted God’s judgment, they were also hopeful that his mercy would still be revealed.
God introduced himself to Moses as a God who is “compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in faithfulness and truth;” (Exodus 34:6).
The Psalmist also alludes to this when he says, “Mercy and truth are met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Psalms 85:10).
Because of the Lord’s great mercies, Israel was sure of a comeback.
Yes, they would fall, but that would not be the end of their Story.
The same God who was pronouncing judgment would also come to their rescue.
The same God who was righteous in judgment was also merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in faithfulness.
Even if they fell severally, they would still rise again like the proverbial phoenix. In the words of Scripture;
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief. Prov. 24:16
When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me
This line acknowledges the sad state of affairs in the nation – they were at a point of suffering and despair.
The first time darkness is mentioned in the Bible was in Genesis 1:2, when the earth was covered in darkness.
At that point, the earth was shapeless and void. It almost looked like a hopeless case – and then God said, let there be light! And the rest, as they say, is history.
Sitting in darkness is a symbol of the suffering they were going through. However, they have hope that the Lord would be a source of light in the darkness.
This is to say that even though God may not remove the darkness, he would still provide light in the darkness.
A good illustration of this was Paul and his “thorn in the flesh.”
As he records in the Scripture, he tried to pray for it to go, but instead, God answered;
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9.
To put it plainly, God did not take the bad situation away from Paul, but he promised to be right there with him. He promised to make his grace sufficient for Paul.
Similarly, Israel could count on God’s presence in the midst of their storm. Even though they would be going through a dark season, the Lord would not just provide light – he would be their light.
Which means he would be right there with them.
Micah 7:8 is an excellent scripture to meditate on as a way of affirming your faith in God’s providence.
In seasons that look like nothing is working, you can take comfort in the fact that everything will make sense in due course.
Because God is working behind the scenes to get you out of your current mess.
And you can also make a prophetic declaration to your enemies that they shouldn’t write you off just yet – because things will turn around soon. Even if you fall today, God will help you to rise again.