This sixth chapter denounces:
the careless lives of
the chiefs of
believed not in the coming judgment (vs.1-6).
o therefore they shall go into captivity, and the kingdom shall be utterly
overthrown (vs. 7-11), because:
o they act iniquitously and are self-confident (vs. 12-14).
Vs. 1-6. With a second woe the prophet denounces the chiefs of the whole nation,
who were quite satisfied with the present state of things, and, reveling in luxury,
feared no coming judgment.
1 “Woe to
them that are at ease in
Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house
self-pleasing (Isaiah 32:9,11; Zephaniah 1:12).
because she is equally guilty; the whole covenant nation is sunk in the same
dangerous apathy. Septuagint, toi~v ejxouqenou~si Siw>n – tois exouthenousi
Syriac, and can be supported by a small change in the Hebrew. It may have
been intended thus to confine the announcement to
with the prophet’s chief scope. But he has introduced
as ch.2:4; 6:5; 9:11, and his sense of his own people’s careless ease may well
lead him to include them in his warning. Trust
The city was deemed impregnable, and it kept the Assyrians at bay for three years
before it was finally taken (II Kings 18:9, etc.; see notes on ch.3:9 and 4:1). Another
rendering, not so suitable, is, the careless ones upon the mountain of
which occasioned a feeling of perfect security. Which are named chief of
the nations; rather, to the notable men of the chief of nations; i.e. the
principal men of
because it was beloved and elected of God, and was designed to keep alive
true religion, and to set an example to the rest of the world (Exodus19:5;
Numbers 1:17; Deuteronomy 4:20; II Samuel 7:23). Septuagint, ajpetro>ghsan
ajrca<v ejqnw~n – apetrogaesan archas ethnon - “they plucked the chiefs of the
nations,” where the verb is a mistaken rendering. To whom the house of
15:4), and who ought therefore to be patterns of righteousness and equity.
The rendering of the Vulgate, ingredientes
“entering with pomp into the house of
the present Hebrew text), implies that these chieftains carried themselves
haughtily in the congregation of
The Danger of Prosperity (v. 1)
When there is unvarying prosperity and people experience no change in their
situation, there is a tendency to forget God. People calculate on uniformity. As life
has been, so they easily assume it will be. A smiling world is a dangerous tranquillizer.
Even the godly experience this (Psalm 119:67), and the direct purpose of adversity is
to prevent it (II Corinthians 4:17-18). An unbroken run of prosperity is most unfavorable
to spiritual life and liveliness.
wise,” etc. Character propagates itself — begets character in its own
likeness. Familiarity with sin breeds tolerance of it. A sinful example is a
temptation to sin. So long as men not impeccable instinctively imitate each
other, association with the wicked must, to a certain extent, corrupt. The
more corrupt any society is, the lower will be the spiritual tone of the Church
in it. All
no doubt, of the special national sins; and there is no reason to suppose
that they all were recklessly at ease in
security of many was due to the hardening influence of the sins become
familiar to his mind.
cause of all. Sin both blinds and hardens. The more sin we commit the less
do we see of its consequences, the less do we fear what we can see, and
the further are we from an appreciative knowledge of God in those
characters which lead inevitably to the punishment of it. The climax of
security is more than likely to correspond to the extreme of wickedness. It
was so with
recklessly at ease, than when these words were spoken.
Characteristics of Evil Men
continuous attention (Matthew 6:33; 26:41; Luke 13:24). But they do not.
The CARELESS “eats and drink, and marry, and are given in marriage”
(Luke 17:27), and so events come on them unawares. The householder
relaxes his vigilance, and as a result his house is broken into (Matthew 24:43).
The wise virgins as well as the foolish sleep (Matthew 25:5), and the bridegroom
comes on them unawares. The security is foolish in proportion to the interests
involved, and criminal in proportion to the number and plainness of
2:14). He does not see:
Ø the beauty of spiritual qualities (Isaiah 53:2), nor
Ø the SELF-EVIDENTNESS of spiritual principles, nor
Ø the inviolability of spiritual deliverances, nor
Ø the grounds of spiritual assurance, nor
Ø the EVIDENCES OF APPROACHING DIVINE ACTION.
He sees neither what has been, nor what is, nor what is coming. Accordingly,
he is secure and at ease in THE VERY TEETH OF DANGER!
its guilt or danger. They live in it equably and calmly, as if it were the normal
thing. They anticipate no evil and no disturbance. They reckon on being
spiritual fixtures, and on the perpetual maintenance of the STATUS
QUO. They do not mean to turn, nor take account of being disturbed;
but assume that there will be “NO CHANGES” forevermore.
Character is become stereotyped, conscience is silent, and the quiet of
strong delusion is within them and all around. (II Thessalonians 2:10-12)
2 “Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the
great: then go down to
these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border?”
Pass ye. Go and compare your condition with that of other countries, from the
furthest east to the north, to your own neighbors — has not God done more for
you than for them? Nothing is said about the destruction of the three capitals,
still flourishing and prosperous (though by this time they had suffered at their
enemies’ hands), and
they. Calneh, one of the five great Babylonian cities, is probably the Kul-unu
of the inscriptions, a town in
Genesis 10:10 and Isaiah 10:9 the Septuagint calls it Chalanne or Chalane; in the
present passage they mistake the Hebrew, and render, dia>bhte pa>ntev –
diabaete pantes - “pass ye all by.”
the east bank of the
some sixty miles southeast of
Hamath the great; Septuagint, jEmatrabba> - Ematrabba - This was the
principal city of
was called Epiphania, after Antiochus Epiphanes (Genesis 10:18; Numbers 34:8;
Isaiah 10:9). It fell in Sargon’s reign, B.C. 720; afterwards it lost its independence,
and was incorporated in the Assyrian empire.
their five chief cities, and at one time the principal (I Chronicles 18:1). The site is
placed by Porter at Tell-es-
many hundred feet.” Dr. Thomson (‘The Land and the Book,’ p. 215, etc.)
modern Beit Jibrin, which is some few miles south of Tell Safi. He thinks
the site of Tell Safi is not adapted for the seat of a large city, and he saw
few indications of ancient ruins there; whereas Beit Jibrin has in and around
it the most wonderful remains of antiquity to be found in
probably declined in importance at this time (see note on ch. 1:6), but its
old reputation was still remembered. It was taken by Uzziah, but seems not
to have remained long in his possession (II Chronicles 26:6). In the year
B.C. 711 Sargon reduced
more earthly prosperity at God’s hands than you? Is their territory greater
than yours? No. How ungrateful, then, are you for all my favors (compare
3 “Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to
come near;” Ye that put far away the evil day. They assigned a distant
date to the time of punishment and calamity; they would not look it in the
face or contemplate it as approaching and ready to come upon them.
Septuagint, oiJ ejrco>menoi eijv hJme>ran ka>khn – hoi erchomenoi eis
Haemeran kakaen - “Ye who are coming unto the evil day.” The
Alexandrian manuscript has oiJ eujco>menoi – hoi euchomenoi - “ye who
pray for” (ch.5:18), with which the Syriac seems to agree. The
passively, renders, qui separati estis in diem malum. But it is best to
translate it as above, in the sense of “repelling,” “putting away with
aversion,” as in Isaiah 66:5. And cause the seat of violence to come
near. They erected the throne (shebheth, “the sitting,” or “enthroning”) of
violence in their midst, made themselves the subjects and slaves of
wickedness and oppression. The Septuagint, mistaking shebheth for shabbath
translates, Oi Jejggi>zontev kai< ejfapto>menoi sabba>twn yeudw~n –
hoi eggizontes kai ephaptomenoi sabbaton pseudon - “Ye who are
drawing near and clinging to false sabbaths.”
The Procrastinator (v.3)
Men will try to use a foolish device to accomplish the impossible, but to
the wise, a foolish thing is never attempted for a wise reason or in a wise
(I once saw on a church marquee in
There is no right way to do the wrong thing! - CY – 2013)
Some do not practically believe that the evil day is coming at all.
They minimize their own guilt, which is the provoking cause. They magnify the
considerations which bear in the direction of postponement. They ignore
THE SURE WORD OF GOD which denounces inevitable suffering on sin. The
result is an amount of ignorance or skepticism about the matter sufficient
to prevent its exercising any practical effect. It is believed in a vague and
heedless way, but not so as to lead to appropriate, nor in fact to any, action.
They know the evil day is coming. They know that, when it comes,
IT WILL INVOLVE THEM in its calamities. But they hope events will take
some happy turn. and something indefinite, but highly convenient, will occur, which
will change the issue, and prevent the crisis from touching them (Isaiah 28:15). All
sinners persist in the life of sin, yet HOPE somehow or other, to ESCAPE
HELL! Some endeavour not to think about it at all. They purposely divert
their attention from the subject. They refuse to “consider their latter end.”
They busy themselves about other things. They insanely act as if the danger
would be annihilated by being ignored. Into this snare of the devil many
fall. They cannot see the nearness of the evil day who refuse to look at the
matter. Blinder and more stupid than the ox or the ass is the people that
will not consider (Isaiah 1:3).
By sticking his head in the ground, like the proverbial ostrich, all that the
procrastinator gains is A HERITAGE OF WOE! (v. 1) - It is evident:
them. We cannot resist His power. We cannot change His purpose. His
word on any matter is the last word, and fixes it once for all. What He has
spoken, and as He has spoken, must come to pass. (Matthew 24:35)
combine in fixing an event enter also into the timing of it. All possible
considerations are taken into account, and infinite power no more surely
does the thing He means than at the time He means. It would be as
wise to attempt and as easy to accomplish the defeat of God’s purposes
as their postponement. Our mental and active attitude are alike inoperative
as to both.
He disqualifies himself for facing it. “Be ye also ready” is THE
DIVINE PRESCRIPTION in reference to the unrevealed date of the
day of God. (Matthew 24:44). PREPARE and WATCH are
equally essential conditions of meeting the day of God in safety. Willful
delusion about the event means woeful injury by it. Men ought to be
prepared for what is sure to come, and when it comes be in expectation of
it. “BE YE ALSO READY!”
Man’s Evil Day (v. 3)
“Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come
near.” This is another
denunciation addressed to the great men in
seat of violence near. Three remarks are suggested by these words:
holiest men, men whose path through life has been most calm and
prosperous, have to expect certain calamities that befall all. There are trials
common to all men, whatever their condition or character — afflictions,
bereavements, infirmities; these await most men (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
There is one evil day, however, for us all. Death is in many respects an
“evil day,” but for the Christian, Jesus said it was “the passing from
death unto life” (John 5:24). For the sinner, what mysterious sufferings
it involves! What privileges and pleasures it terminates! What disruptions
it produces! Sinner, thy death will be an evil day; and it is before thee,
and it is nearer now than ever.
“put far away the evil day.” Ungodly men put this evil day so far on in the
course of time that they seldom discern it and never realize it. It is a mere
speck, seldom visible on the horizon of many years of unclouded sunshine.
Why do men adjourn in thought this evil day?
Ø Not because they have any doubt as to its advent. No day is
more certain. Sooner shall all the wheels of nature be stopped than
the sun of this day fail to break on every eye. “It is appointed to
men once to die, but after this THE JUDGMENT.”
Ø Not because they lack reminders of its approach. Every physical
pain, every tolling knell, every funeral procession (I attended one
yesterday, the burial of Agnes Haskins, 97 – Jan. 19,2013 – CY),
every graveyard — all remind us almost every moment that our evil
day is coming. Why, then, adjourn the thought? The reason is found:
o In the strength of our material attachments.
o In our dread of the mysterious.
o In our lack of interest in the spiritual and material.
o In our conscious want of preparation for the scenes of
DELAY IT IN FACT. “And cause the seat of violence to come near.”
Perhaps what is meant here is that these men so ignored their coming
calamities that by their conduct they hastened them on. Ignoring the evil
day, they pursued such a course of:
Ø sinful indulgence, and
Ø impiety as served to bring it nearer.
Thus the more they put it off in thought THE NEARER IT DREW
because they became more self-destructive in their conduct. A general
truth is suggested here, viz. that a man who adjourns all thought of his
end will pursue such a course of conduct as will hasten its approach.
Some men imagine that by thinking upon death they will hasten its advent;
hence their dread of making wills. But such is not the fact. He who keeps the
evil day in view:
Ø rightly regards it,
Ø prepares for it,
Ø will render such a practical obedience to the laws of health as
to delay rather than hasten it. “
Lord, “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts
unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
4 “That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their
couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of
the midst of the stall;” That lie upon beds of ivory; couches inlaid with
ivory (see note on ch.3:15) at meals. The prophet substantiates his
denunciation by describing their selfish luxury and debauchery. Stretch
themselves literally, are poured out; Septuagint, kataspatalw~ntev –
- kataspatalontes - “wantoning.” Out of the midst of the stall. Calves put
up to be fattened. They do this presumably not on festivals, when it would have
been proper and excusable, but every day.
Luxury is perhaps a temptation to many, if not to us all. The course of religion in
the soul is just the progress of a warfare between flesh and spirit (Romans 7:23).
To this warfare there is one uniform issue — the triumph of the spiritual principle.
(God has made man a trinity – a body, soul and spirit and He meant for the spirit to
rule the flesh! – CY – 2013). But victory is not won without a struggle. The spiritual
principle waxes strong only under culture. The flesh gets weak only by being crucified.
If it be let alone it will grow strong, much more if it is indulged and fed. Hence
“fullness of bread and abundance of idleness” (Ezekiel 16:49) are a revealed
occasion of spiritual declension; and God was lightly esteemed and forsaken when
Jeshurun “waxed fat, and grew thick” (Deuteronomy 32:15). Luxury will leave
its mark on all the Churches in indolence and self-indulgence and A LOWERED
SPIRITUAL TONE. (The Church at Laodecia, a case in point -Revelation 3:14-22)
Familiarity with sin breeds tolerance of it. A sinful example is a temptation to sin.
(Think of the role of x-rated movies, HBO, MTV, pornography, etc., plays in
the lives of the ungodly. If allowed into one’s life, it will even permeate the godly! –
CY – 2013). So long as men not impeccable instinctively imitate each
other, association with the wicked must, to a certain extent, corrupt. The more
corrupt any society is, the lower will be the spiritual tone of the Church
no doubt, of the special national sins; and there is no reason to suppose
they all were recklessly at ease in
security of many was due to HARDENING INFLUENCE OF SIN becoming
familiar to his mind. Sin both blinds and hardens. The more sin we commit the less
do we see of its consequences, the less do we fear what we can see, and
the further are we from an appreciative knowledge of God in those
characters which lead inevitably to the punishment of it. The climax of
security is more than likely to correspond to the extreme of wickedness. It
she more RECKLESSLY AT EASE than when these words were spoken.
5 “That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves
instruments of music, like David;” That chant. The word parat
(a[pax lego>menon – hapax - means rather “to prattle,” “to sing idle
songs,” as the Revised Version translates it. The reading of the Septuagint
varies between ejpikratou~ntev – epikratountes - “excelling,” and
ejpikrotou~ntev – epikrotountes - the latter of which words might mean
“applauding.” Viol (see note on ch.5:23). Invent to themselves instruments
of music, like David. As David devised stringed instruments and modes of
singing to do honor to God and for the service of his sanctuary (see I Chronicles
15:16; 23:5; II Chronicles 29:26-27; and the supernumerary psalm at the end
of the Psalter in the Septuagint), so these debauchees invented new singing and
playing to grace their luxurious feasts. The Septuagint rendering, which Jerome calls
“sensus pulcherrimus,” is not to be explained by the present Hebrew text, however
true to fact it may be considered, JWv eJsthko>ta ejlogi>santo kai< oujc wJv
feu>gonta – Hos hestaekota elogisanto kai ouch hos pheugonta - “Regarded
them as abiding and not as fleeting things.”
6 “That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief
ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.”
Wine in bowls (misraqim); sacrificial bowls; used in libations
of wine and in the sprinkling of blood (compare Exodus 38:3;
Numbers 7:13; I Chronicles 28:17; II Chronicles 4:8,22; Zechariah 9:15;
14:20). These vessels the luxurious and sacrilegious princes employed in their
feasts, proving thus their impiety and their excess (compare Daniel 5:2-6).
Septuagint, oiJ pi>nontev to<n diulisme>non oi+non – hoi pinontes ton
Diulismenon onion - “who drink strained wine.” The chief ointments.
Such as were used in Divine service (Exodus 30:22-25), and nowhere
else. If they had felt as they ought to feel in this time of rebuke and sorrow,
they would, like mourners, have refrained from anointing themselves (Ruth 3:3;
II Samuel 14:2); but, on the contrary, they are not grieved for the affliction
of Joseph. The coming ruin of the ten tribes affects them not; in
their selfish voluptuousness they have no sympathy with calamity and
suffering, and SHUT THEIR EYES TO THE COMING EVIL!
“The affliction of Joseph” is probably a proverbial expression derived from
the narratives in Genesis 37:25, and 40:14, 23; compare 42:21).
Men are brothers (Acts 17:26), and owe a mutual regard for each other’s concerns
(Philippians 2:4). Suffering is evil, and the proper relation toward those enduring it is
sympathy (I John 3:17). God pities the afflicted, and compassion in Him is the reason
and measure of its dutifulness in us (Matthew 9:36; Luke 10:33-37). We cannot
disregard the sufferings of men without sinning against God and against humanity.
This type of behavior leads to atheism on the one hand, and misanthropy on the
other. Adam failed in regard for God, Cain in regard for his brother. But both
transgressions arose out of the one sinful character of selfishness. Adam violated
God’s command because he preferred his own way; Cain destroyed Abel’s life
because he thought less of it than of his own wounded self-love. And all
men, in proportion as they are sinful, are selfish, inconsiderate, and misanthropic.
Love is of God, and rules where God dwells. Where God dwells not we have
men “living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (Titus
3:3). Selfishness and disregard of others’ happiness is the very mark and token of
a corrupt nature and A CORRUPT SOCIETY!
In vs. 7-11 follows the announcement of punishment for the crimes mentioned above:
o the people shall go into captivity;
o they shall be rejected of God, and
o given over to utter ruin.
7 “Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive,
and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.”
With the first. They shall have a preeminence indeed, being the first to go into
jugum, secundum illud quod in Ezechiele scriptum est: ‘a sanctuario meo incipite’”
(Ezekiel 9:6). With the first; literally, at the head, with reference doubtless to
v. 1. The banquet (mirzakh); the screech of revelers. The word is used of the
scream of mourners in Jeremiah 16:5; here of the cries and shouts of feasters at
a banquet. Them that stretched themselves on couches, as v. 4. The
Septuagint, reading differently, has. “They shall depart into captivity from the
dominion of princes, and the neighing of horses shall be taken away from Ephraim.”
From this passage of Amos
most untrained of the prophets possessed eloquence and literary skill (‘De
Doctr. Christ.,’ 4:7).
Wantonness the Way to Woe (vs. 1-7)
God’s thoughts are not as ours. He sees things all round; we see but one
side of them. He sees the inner reality of things; we see but their outward
semblance. He sees the tendency and ultimate result of things; we but guess
their probable tendency, knowing nothing of distant results whatever.
Hence, in their estimates of life and of good, “the wisdom of men is
foolishness with God” (I Corinthians 3:19). The passage before us is an
illustration of this The conditions of being desiderated by carnal wisdom are here
declared utterly baneful, its calculations fallacious, and its canons of judgment false.
We see here:
(Psalm 37:35), nor one whose lesson is hard to read (Psalm 92:7).
now, it would have compared favorably with the neighboring heathen
states (v. 2). It had the power of unique knowledge. It had the greatness
of a unique culture. It had the glory of a unique Divine connection
(Exodus 19:5; II Samuel 7:23). With an equal numerical, financial, and
Territorial strength, it held, in virtue of these advantages, a preeminence
above any other people. Its wealth and magnificence were the admiration
of even Oriental sovereigns (I Kings 10.); its armies, under normal
circumstances, could hold their own with any of the time (I Samuel 15:
1-8); and the white wings of its commerce gleamed on every sea. In
spite of national unfaithfulness and rebellion and wickedness, God’s
promise to Abraham to make of him “a great nation” had been,
in the fullest sense, accomplished. (Genesis 12:2)
These were the chiefs of
and judges of the people. They occupied the position of princes, and the
the descendants of those tribe princes who had once been honored to
conduct the affairs of the chosen family along with Moses and Aaron,
and whose light shone forth from that better age as brilliant
examples of what a truly theocratical character was.” This
was a proud position, and it had brought the usual amount of
arrogance with it.
strength makes men and nations
feel secure. As to
They were secure in religious privilege. “In
on their covenant relation. They ignored its sanctions, disregarded its
responsibilities, and took it as a guarantee of immunity, even in sin.
Religion is only good as a whole. To have its privileges without its
spiritual character leads through carnal security to carnal
indulgence, and so to a condition worse than to be destitute of both.
Ø They were secure in strategic strength. “And to the careless upon
fortress, situated in a rich valley. It held out against Benhadad, King
(II Kings 7.). To Shalmaneser, long afterwards, it only yielded after
a three years’ siege (II Kings 17:5-6). Man naturally looks for
victory to “the big battalion.” This is reasonable in the case of a
human enemy, but mere fatuity if the enemy be God.
Ø They were secure in self-deception. “Put far away the evil day.”
Security, beaten out of one retreat, betakes itself to another. Trust in
our earthly resources will ultimately fail. Security in external religious
advantages will some day be broken also by a rude awaking. But the
Fabian policy still prevails, and proves an almost impregnable last resort.
“It cannot be for a long while yet” is an argumentative device that
seldom fails to reassure.
Ø Indolence. “Stretch themselves upon their couches.” This is the
first temptation of wealth. Work has ceased to be necessary, and
the easily acquired habit of idleness very soon develops indolence
of disposition. HAVING NOTHING TO DO LEADS TO
DOING NOTHING and when a man does nothing for a while
he wants to go on with it. (One of the bad characteristics of
Ø Luxury. “Lie upon beds of ivory;” “Eat lambs,” etc. Luxury is
a direct result of indolence. Having nothing else to occupy their
attention, men concentrate it on themselves. They make it the
business of their life to coddle themselves, with the inevitable result
of becoming harder to please. As the appetite is pampered
it becomes more dainty, and must be tempted with luxury after
luxury, if any measure of relish would be retained.
Ø EFFEMINACY. “Who trill to the sound of the harp” (v.5). The
tendency of luxury is to UNMAN! On the discontinuance of
manly exercises follows closely THE LOSS OF MANLY
QUALITIES. Pampering the body weakens body and
mind both, and prepares the way for occupations that will be in
character. Effeminacy grows fastest when NURSED IN
THE LAP OF
to lie on anything but an ivory couch, or too dainty to touch
coarser fare than “the fatted calf,” was too enervated in a
little while for any manlier pastime than trilling to a harp.
Ø Profanity. “Drink wine out of sacrificial bowls.” “The
pleasures of sin” are only “for a season.” They quickly wear
out. Zest and relish fail, and SATIETY and DISGUST
follow! Hence the tendency of indulgence to become
more and more extravagant and eccentric. IT IS AN
ATTEMPT TO STIMULATE FAILING POWERS OF
ENJOYMENT BY PRESENTING NEW SENSATIONS.
THEN the natural heart is essential ENMITY AGAINST
GOD! Accordingly, in the case of a thoroughly perverted nature,
when a sinful indulgence has ceased to give pleasure as indulgence,
it will continue to do so
AS LOW AS THIS! Sensual indulgence began to pall, and it
took a fresh lease of enjoyableness by becoming sacrilegious.
(Note the experience of the modern sensualist and the drug
user – CY – 2013)
Ø Heartless egotism. “And do not grieve for the hurt of Joseph.”
SIN IS ESSENTIALLY SELFISH and THE SIN OF
SELF-INDULGENCE SUPREMELY SO! The happiness,
and even the lives, of others are as nothing in the balance
against lust. Let who may suffer, let what may happen, THE
SENSUALIST WILL INDULGE! To such a person
PHILANTHROPY and PATRIOTISM are alike
IMPOSSIBLE! He will “not grieve for the hurt of Joseph”
even when HE IS HIMSELF RESPONSIBLE FOR IT!
He could play comfortably “WHILE THE UNITED
Ø Increasing violence. “And bring near the seat of violence.”
role violence is now playing in
imminent, the violence that provokes it becomes more extreme.
This is sometimes due to:
o the blindness that will not see; sometimes
o to the recklessness that does not care; sometimes
o to the malignity that, forecasting overthrow, would do
all the evil possible before it comes.
In any case it is aggravated and judgment-hastening sin.
answers to crime, both as to degree and kind.
Ø Cherished indulgence should be interrupted. “The shouting
of the revelers will depart” (v. 7). This is about the first step in
retributive punishment. The criminal’s enjoyment comes to be
centered in his sin, and TO INTERUPT IT IS A SHARP
BLOW! The retributive measure to which lust is most
of all amenable is to put a stop to indulgence. (Think how
syphilis, gonorrhea and AIDS incapacitate the instruments
used in such behavior – compare Romans 1:27; Proverbs 5:11 –
CY – 2013). Deprive the oppressor of his power, the extortioner
of his opportunity, the drunkard of his drink, and already the work
of taking vengeance on him is well begun.
Ø Apposite hardship should be inflicted. “Shall go captive.” As
Captives they should endure oppression, not inflict it. For indulgence
would be substituted privation in every form. They would make a more
just acquaintance with luxury by having the means of it WRUNG
OUT of their own helplessness and misery. It is no doubt along
these lines that ETERNAL REWARD and PUNISHMENT are
arranged. Heaven will be the perfect exercise and enjoyment of all
that is pure and spiritual in desire and taste. HELL among other things,
will be the cutting off forever of sinful sources of enjoyment, for
THE WICKED HAD LEARNED TO LIVE!
Ø Those who had been first among the nations should be first
among the captives. This is only fitting. The guilt of any evil movement
culminates in its ringleaders, and “first in transgression, first in
punishment,” is a maxim of natural justice. Those who ORGANIZE
AND OFFICER A WICKED MOVEMENT are THOSE ON
WHOM JUSTICE WILL LAY THE EARLIEST AND
God does not hate men, God loves men but hates men’s sins! THE SQUARING
OF A SINNER’S ACCOUNT WITH GOD IS OF NECESSITY A BITTER
EXPERIENCE! God can neither err, nor lie! HE DOES WHAT AND
WHEN HE PROMISES! (Numbers 23:19) - In default of a greater, God swears
by Himself (Hebrews 6:13). He is “the true God,” and a “God of truth.” He is
“ABUNDANT IN TRUTH” (Exodus 34:6). An oath in His name has the highest
sanction possible, and assumes its most solemn form. GOD’S OATH IN HIS OWN
NAME IS AS SURE AS HIS EXISTENCE — is, in fact, a putting of His
existence in pledge for the word of His mouth.
Thoughts on a Dissolute Life (vs. 4-7)
to the community at large.
afflictions of the poor and the oppressed.
8 “The Lord GOD hath sworn by Himself, saith the LORD the God of
hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore
will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.” Hath sworn by Himself
(nephesh); in anima sua (Vulgate), “by His soul;” a concession to human language
(compare ch. 4:2; Jeremiah 51:14; Hebrews 6:13, 17-18). God thus shows that the
threat proceeds from Him, and is immutable. The excellency; the pride
(u[brin – hubrin - Septuagint; superbiam, Vulgate); that of which Jacob is proud
(Hosea 5:5), as, for instance, his palaces, built by exaction, maintained
in voluptuous luxury. Will deliver up to the enemy for destruction
(Deuteronomy 32:30; Obadiah 1:14).
9 “And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house,
that they shall die.” If there remain ten men in one house. If these escape
death in war, they shall die of famine and pestilence in the three years’ siege of
would be only a poor remnant of the inhabitants of their palaces. The Septuagint
adds, very unnecesarily, Kai< uJpoleifqh>sontai oiJ kata>loipoi – Kai
hupoleiphthaesontai hoi kataloipoi - “And those remaining shall be left behind.”
10 “And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to
bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that is
by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall
say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make
mention of the name of the LORD.” The prophet gives an instance of the
terror and misery in that common calamity. He depicts a scene where
the nearest surviving kinsman comes into the house to perform the funeral rites
for a dead man. And a man’s uncle; better, and when a man’s kinsman;
the apodosis being at the end of the verse, “Then shall he say.” Dod is sometimes
rendered “beloved,” but usually “father’s brother,” but it may mean any near relation
upon whom, in default of father and brethren, would devolve the duty of
burying the corpse. Septuagint, el oijkei~oi aujtw~n – oikeioi auton – his
relative - propinquus suus (Vulgate). And he that burneth him; literally,
and his burner. This is the same person as the kinsman. the butler; but for
some reason, either from the number of deaths, or from the pestilence, or
from the distance of the burying place, which would be out of the city and
inaccessible in the blockade, he cannot lay the body in the grave, and is
forced to take and burn it. Though the Jews generally buried dead bodies,
cremation was sometimes used, both in honor or emergency (I Samuel 31:12)
and in punishment (Leviticus 20:14; 21:9). The bones; i.e. the corpse, as in
Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32; and II Kings 13:21; Keil. The kinsman takes it up
to bring it out of the house to burn it. Him that is by the sides of the house;
him that is in the innermost parts of the house; qui in penetralibus domus est
(Vulgate). This is the last living person, who had hidden himself in the most remote
chambers (see I Kings 22:25); or it may be a messenger whom the kinsman had
sent to search the house. He asks him — Is there yet any with thee? Is there any
one left alive to succor, or dead to bury? And he shall say, No; Vulgate, et
respondebit, Finis est. Then he (the kinsman) shall say, Hold thy tongue (Has!);
Hush! He stays the man in the inner chamber from speaking; and why? For we may
not make mention of the name of the Lord; Vulgate, et non recorderis nominis
Domini. Some, as Pussy, Schegg, and Gandell, see here the voice of
despair. It is too late to call upon God now; it is the time of vengeance. We
rejected him in life; we may not cry to him in death.
prohibition to the hardness of heart and unbelief of the people, who even in
all this misery will not confess the name of the Lord. Keil says, “It indicates
a fear lest, by the invocation of the name of God, his eye should be drawn
towards this last remaining one, and he also should fall a victim to the
judgment of death.” Others again think that the notion in the mind of the
impious speaker is that Jehovah is the Author of all their calamities, and
that he is impatient at the very mention of his name. The simplest
explanation is the first, or a modification of it The person addressed is
about to pray or to call on God in his distress. “Be silent,” says the
speaker; “we can no longer appeal to Jehovah as the covenant God; by
naming Him we call to His remembrance how we have broken the covenant,
violated our relation to Him; therefore provoke Him not further by making
mention of His name.”
Notice that the solitary survivor is no nearer faith in God than those who have
been destroyed. He does not cast himself on God’s mercy. He does not even in that
dreadful hour seek God’s face. His stupid but thoroughly characteristic impulse is to
hide away from His presence (Revelation 6:12-17). Apart from Divine grace,
SIN COMMITTED DRIVES MEN AWAY FROM GOD (Genesis 3:8),
and punishment approaching DRIVES FURTHER STILL (Revelation 6:16).
In prosperity the wicked will not even fear God; in adversity, if they fear, THEY
STILL REFUSE TO TRUST HIM!
11 “For, behold, the LORD commandeth, and He will smite the great
house with breaches, and the little house with clefts.” The Lord
commandeth, and He will smite. The expression, thus taken,
implies that God executes His commands through the ministers of His
judgment; but it may well be rendered, “and men shall smite” (compare
ch. 9:9). Breaches… clefts. The great palace requires a breach to
bring it to the ground; the little hut is ruined by a small rent or cleft. All
houses, great and small, shall be smitten. Possibly
signified respectively by “the great house” and “the little house” (compare
ch.9:11); and their treatment by the Assyrians may be thus symbolized.
In vs. 12-14, the prophet shows the folly of these evil doers who think in their own
strength to defy judgment and to resist the enemy whom God is sending against them.
Sin often brings present gain, but it IT NEVER PAYS AT THE END!
“Cursed is he that maketh flesh his arm” (Jeremiah 17:5) SIN IS AT
THE BOTTOM OF SELF-DEIFICATION!
12 “Shall horses run upon the rock? will one plow there with oxen? for
ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness
into hemlock:” Shall horses run upon the rock? Can horses gallop safely
over places covered with rocks and stones? Will one plough there with
oxen? Do men plough the rock with their oxen? The answer, of course, is
“No.” Yet your conduct is equally foolish, your labor is equally lost.
Some, dividing the words differently, translate, “Does one plough the sea
with oxen?” which reminds one of the Latin proverb, “Litus arare bubus.”
Thus Ovid, ‘Ep. Heroid,’ 5:115 —
“Quid facis OEnone? Quid arenae semina mandas?
Non protecturis litora bubus aras.”
The husbandman does not attempt impracticable things. He knows there is no fertility
in a bare rock — no soil for crop, no bed for seed, no furrow for plough; and so he
cultivates the good soil, and leaves the rock alone. To till the rock is utter futility!
It is lost time, lost labor and broken implements. One cannot seek safety by
wrongdoing. GOOD CANNOT COME OUT OF EVIL BY NATURAL
For ye have turned; or, that ye have turned. Judgment into gall (see
note on ch.5:7). Hemlock. Some plant with an acrid juice. Ye turn
the administration of justice, which is “the fruit of righteousness,” into the
bitterest injustice and wrong. It were “more easy,” says Pusey, “to change
the course of nature or the use of things of nature, than the course of
13 “Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought, which say, Have we not
taken to us horns by our own strength?” In a thing of nought; a nothing —
a thing which does not really exist, viz. your prosperity and power. Horns; symbols
of strength (Deuteronomy 33:17; I Kings 22:11); the idea being derived from
the wild bull, the strongest animal of their fauna. Their boast was a consequence of
the successful wars with the Syrians (II Kings 14:25- 28). The prophet proceeds to
demolish their proud vaunt.
Human life is a vapor on the hill, a bubble on the stream, a ripple on the wave,
a meteor in the sky, an unsubstantial thing that passes and leaves no trace.
God, the “I Am,” is essential Existence. He alone hath immortality, exists
of Himself and from Himself. The existence of creatures is derived, AN
EXISTENCE FROM GOD AND IN HIM! “In Him we live and move
and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Of human pride, well says the poet:
“What the weak head with strangest bias rules
Is pride, the never-failing vice of fools.”
Our pride misreads altogether the proportions of things. It has an overwhelming
estimate of self. “Thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to
think” (Romans 12:3), and “thinking God to be altogether such a one as
ourselves,” (Psalm 50:21), and the transfer of trust from heaven to earth, is not
alone natural, but inevitable. Mistaken opinion associates itself with
mistaken action, and this in turn will produce UNDESIRED RESULTS!
The soul makes SHIPWRECK of itself. God’s help is despised and God’s
right is spurned!
“Beware of too sublime a sense
Of your own worth and consequence.
The man who deems himself so great,
And his importance of such weight,
That all around, in all that’s done,
Must move and act for him alone,
Will learn in school of tribulation
The folly of his expectation.”
behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of
saith the LORD the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from
the entering in of Hamath unto the river of the wilderness.”
I will raise up (compare I Kings 11:14, 23; Habakkuk 1:6, where see note).
A nation. The Assyrians. From the entering in of Hamath. A district in the
upper part of Coele-Syria, hod. El-Bukaa, the northern boundary of the
the torrent of the Arabah, which is the
curious depression in which the
flows, and which continues. though now on a higher level, south of the
(II Kings 14:25). The Septuagint gives, tou~ ceima>rjrJou tw~n dusmw~n – tou
Cheimarrou ton dusmon - “the torrent of the west.”
The Hand of God Seen in National Retribution (v. 14)
Coming when it did, this prophecy was an unmistakable proof of Divine
victory obtained by her arms. The
by its own strength had pushed back the foe from the borders. This was the
moment appointed for Amos to utter the faithful warning contained in this
verse. Subsequent events proved the predictive authority from which this
language proceeded. The advance of
the unbelieving and impenitent of the warning to which they had been
indifferent. But we are chiefly concerned to trace the truths and to draw
the lessons regarding Divine government upon earth, which this prediction
so strikingly unfolds.
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