Although I don't often get excited about a NIVAC commentary, this one is really good. I'm preaching through Micah right now. I've had people tell me recently that they have never heard a sermon series through Micah. In a day when few believers hear sermon series through important Old Testament books like Micah, it's critical that we do not get bogged down in simply what the text meant to Israel 2800 years ago, but that we move on to relevant and life transforming truths for today.
For details on this, let's zoom into Gary Smith's section on Micah 3. Micah 3 contains condemning prophecies about the leadership of Israel. In these 12 verses of chapter 3 Smith offers up 16 and a half pages of commentary. His commentary (as is the pattern in the NIVAC series) sports an initial section called 'Original meaning'. This is his exegetical section. Compared to other commentaries it is the same basic pattern except that this one is easy to read. A major and refreshing change is that this series avoids technical language issues...like transliterations of the Hebrew and detailed discussions about whether or not Micah wrote a phrase or verse here or there...and all the theories about source material. He even avoids the grammatical analysis that some commentaries really shine on. So for a technical commentary that a student or scholar would prefer, "this ain't it". But if you are teaching through Hosea, Micah or Amos, this is a great tool! So, after two pages of an overview of the basic meaning of this chapter, he then gives a mini view of each of the three paragraphs within this chapter.
In his overview he talks about the unity of their judgment themes AND the progression of the judgment as the prophecy unfolds. He does link Hezekiah's repentance in Jeremiah 26 to Micah (which I find very plausible). In 3:1-4 we have graphic illustrations that are meant to shock the reader. The idea of 'Cannibalism' by the leaders is probably a metaphor designed to show the beast-like behavior of the leaders from God's perspective. Smith essentially says this in a memorable and preach-able fashion (his summary is far better than the other commentators I've read so far on this chapter-even though he does not get into the Hebrew text or quote Hebrew grammatical points and all of the questions about textual variations that can consume some exegetical commentaries).
After this very helpful section, Smith moves on to 'Bridging Contexts' where he discusses related passages and themes. In this section there are many ideas that could really help a preacher. As he talks about justice and judicial leaders and political leaders, there are several illustrations from the Old Testament that Smith ties this particular passage to. For this paragraph he links to specific instances of David and Nehemiah that bring in illustrations that not only preach well, but also give the preacher great ways to further educate the congregation on how God's word has cohesive themes.
He contends in his application section called 'Contemporary Significance' that God demands all leaders to be just. He asks (and rightly so based on Micah's message) that if the bible emphasizes justice so much, then should the church be at the forefront of calling for justice in the world? He says that the church ought to support politicians who call for independent counsels to investigate injustices...and rightly bemoans the fact that it seems to be of interest only to the more liberal wing of the church.
Anyhow, in his section on 'Contemporary significance' Smith reverts to more illustrations from other parts of the bible. The application section has six pages for these twelve verses, and his thought is cohesive and very helpful. I would like to see more application ideas that are contemporary in this section, rather than a host of links to other parts of the bible. Scholars seem to have a hard time connecting their studies to 'regular folks', but this one does a good enough job that I think preachers and bible teachers will benefit a lot from it. So-I give it a five star. Thank you Gary!