The Words of Amos

Chapter 3

The necessity of God's judgment against Israel, 1-8. The publication of it, with the causes thereof, 9-15.

1 Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which he brought up from the land of Egypt, saying,

2 "I have only known you of all the families of the earth; therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities."

3 Can two walk together unless they have agreed?

4 Will a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den if he has taken nothing?

5 Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth where no gin is for him? Shall one take up a snare from the earth and have taken nothing at all?

6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city and the LORD has not done it?

7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing unless he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.

8 The lion has roared. Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken. Who can but prophesy?

9 Publish in the palaces at Ashdod and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, "Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria, and behold the great tumults in the midst of it and the oppressed in the midst of it." 10 "For they do not know to do right," says the LORD, "who store up violence and robbery in their palaces."

11 Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD: "There shall even be an adversary around the land, and he shall bring down your strength from you, and your palaces shall be plundered."

12 Thus says the LORD: "As the shepherd rescues out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so the children of Israel shall be rescued who dwell in Samaria on the corner of a bed and in Damascus on a couch.

13 Hear, and testify in the house of Jacob," says the Lord GOD, the God of hosts,

14 "For in the day that I visit the transgressions of Israel upon him, I will also visit the altars of Beth-el. And the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground.

15 And I will smite the winter-house together with the summer-house, the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end," says the LORD.

Commentary

Matthew Henry Commentary - Amos, Chapter 3

Notes

John Gill's Chapter Summary:

In this chapter the prophet goes on with his prophecy against Israel, whom God had highly favored, and yet sinned against him, and therefore must expect to be punished by him; and the rather, since he and they were not in agreement; and therefore there could be no communion between them (verses 1-3); and by various similes are set forth the cause of divine judgments, the certain design of them, and their continuance, until the end is answered; which should be attended to, since everything of this kind is of God, who, giving his prophets notice of it, they are under an absolute necessity of declaring it; nor should they be blamed for it (verses 4-8); and even the Heathen nations are appealed to as witnesses of the sins of Israel, that caused such a denunciation of wrath; their tumults, oppression, injustice, violence, and robbery (verses 9-10); therefore an adversary is threatened to be sent among them, that should utterly destroy them, so that few should escape (verses 11-12); particularly their idolatry and luxury seem to have been reigning sins, which had a great hand in bringing on their ruin, and for which the Lord would punish them (verses 13-15).

[v.3] - Reference, 1st Corinthians 6:14-16.

[v.4] - Reference, Hosea 11:10; Amos 1:2, 3:8.

[v.5] - Reference, Ecclesiastes 9:12; Daniel 9:14.

[v.6a] - "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid?" - "God himself cries, his voice deserves much more attention than the trumpet which fills men's minds with dread; and yet it is a sound uttered to the deaf." —John Calvin

[v.6b] - "Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD has not done it?" - In other words, "No calamity happens, except through God." Reference, Isaiah 45:7.

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 2:14-3:6:

Grant, Almighty God, that as you are pleased daily to exhort us to repentance, and do not suddenly execute your judgment by which we might be in an instant overwhelmed, but give us time to seek reconciliation,— O grant, that we may now attend to your teaching, and all your admonitions and threatenings, and become teachable and obedient to you, lest you be constrained on finding us hardened against your threatening, and wholly irreclaimable, to bring on us extreme vengeance: make us then so to submit ourselves to you in the spirit of teachableness and obedience, that being placed under the protection of your Son, we may truly call on you as our Father, and find you to be so in reality, when you shall show to us that paternal love, which you have promised, and which we have all experienced from the beginning, who have truly and from the heart called on your name, through the same, even Christ our Lord. Amen.

[v.7a] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "It is certain that God executes many judgments which are hid both from men and angels; and Amos did not intend to impose a necessity on God, as if he was not free to do anything without previously revealing it; such was not the Prophet's design; but his object was simply to condemn the Israelites for their irreclaimable perverseness and obstinacy, that, having been warned, they did not seriously think of repenting, but despised all God's threatening, and even scorned them."

[v.7b] - Reference, Psalm 25:14; Daniel 2:47; John 15:15; Revelation 10:7.

[v.12a] - "As the shepherd rescues out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "They are then mistaken who think that the preceding commination is here designedly mitigated; for the Prophet does not do this, but continues the same subject, and shows that the whole people would become a prey, that their enemies would be like lions, and that they would have no strength to resist. Some hope, I indeed allow, is here given to the people; for, as it has been before seen, God intended that there should ever be some remnant as a seed among that chosen people. This, I admit, is true: but we must yet regard what the Prophet treats of; and what he had in view. He then did not intend here expressly to console the Israelites; though incidentally he says, that some would remain, yet his object was to show that the whole kingdom was now given up as a prey to lions, and that nothing would be saved except a very small portion, as when a shepherd carries away an ear when the wolves and lions had been satiated."

[v.12b] - "so the children of Israel shall be rescued who dwell in Samaria on the corner of a bed, and in Damascus on a couch" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The Prophet seems here to compare Damascus and Samaria to beds for this reason, because the Israelites thought that they would find in them a safe receptacle: 'Thought then you dwell at Samaria and Damascus as in a safe nest, it will yet be a miracle if a few of you will escape; it will be as when a shepherd carries away the ear of a sheep, after the lion has satiated himself.' This seems to be the genuine meaning of the Prophet; for I doubt not but that he derides the foolish confidence in which the Israelites indulged themselves, thinking that they were secure from all danger when shut up within the gates of Samaria or of Damascus."

John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 7-15:

Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as we so provoke you daily by our sins, that we are worthy of eternal destruction, and no good remains in us, and though we are severely chastised with temporal punishments, you do not yet take from us the hope of that mercy, which you have promised in your Son to those who truly and from the heart repent and call on you as their Father,— O grant, that being touched with the sense of our evils, we may, in true humility, and with the genuine feeling of penitence, offer ourselves as a sacrifice to you, and seek pardon with such groaning, that having undergone temporal punishments, we may finally enjoy that grace which is laid up for all sinners, who truly and from the heart turn to you and implore that mercy which has been prepared for all those who really prove themselves to be the members of your only begotten Son. Amen.

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