The prophet addresses the blackguard as man, not to identify him with humanity in general but to lump him together with all such worshippers. Up to now Micah has accused Israel’s leaders; now he accuses the people. Before answering the presumptuous retort, Micah first destroys any idea that the worshipper’s contemptible answer can be chalked up to ignorance. In the same epoch that the Lord saved Israel he had also given her his covenant and instructed priests to transmit its stipulations to succeeding generations. The prophets took up where the priests miscarried. Nevertheless, Micah repeats the stipulations once more in order to open the door of hope and to bring Israel back into covenant and security before it is too late. The prophets referred to the covenant’s moral requirements either by the shorthand word good, as in verse 8a (cf. Isa. 1:17; 5:20; Amos 5:14–15; Mic. 3:2), or, as in verse 8b, by generalizing summaries of the Lord’s will, composed of two or, as here, three elements (cf. Isa. 5:7; Hos. 4:1; 6:6; 12:6; Amos 5:24).
Before such love as God has shown, Israel is not free to grab what she can out of life and be indifferent to others. Rather, first, she must act justly, that is, when in a socially superior position, step in and deliver the weaker and wronged party by punishing the oppressor. Israel’s leaders had done just the opposite (2:1–2; 3:1–3, 5–7, 9–11). Second, to love mercy adds the thought that anyone who is in a weaker position due to some misfortune or other should be delivered not reluctantly, but out of a spirit of generosity, grace and loyalty. Acts of justice and succour motivated by a spirit of mercy guarantee the solidity and durability of the righteous covenant. Third, to walk humbly should be rendered ‘to walk circumspectly’.7 This command, which is orientated towards God (in contrast to the first two, which are directed towards man), does not refer to self-effacement but to bringing one’s life into conformity with God’s will. The prophet does not reject ritual; he simply reasserts that the moral law has priority over the ceremonial. These particulars of the moral law are eternally relevant. If God’s saving acts at the founding of Israel merit a loving surrender to God, how much more should his love displayed in Jesus Christ move people to become his disciples? Christians, like Micah’s contemporaries and the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, are also in danger of substituting monetary gifts and a dead moralism for the radical and continuing repentance that Christ demands
Donald J. Wiseman, T. Desmond Alexander, and Bruce K. Waltke, Obadiah, Jonah and Micah: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 26, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 213–214.