1 Woe to those who are at ease in Zion and are secure on the mountain of Samaria, who are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!
2 Pass to Calneh and see, and from there go to Hamath the great. Then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are they better than these kingdoms? Or is their border greater than your border?
3 You put the evil day far away and cause the seat of violence to come near.
4 You lie upon beds of ivory and stretch yourselves upon their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall.
5 You chant to the sound of the harp and invent for yourselves instruments of music, like David.
6 You drink wine in bowls and anoint yourselves with the chief ointments, but you are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
7 Therefore, now they shall go captive with the first who go captive, and the revelry of those who stretched themselves out shall end.
8 "The Lord GOD has sworn by himself," says the LORD the God of hosts, "I abhor the excellence of Jacob and hate his palaces; therefore, I will deliver up the city with all its abundance.
9 "And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, they shall die. 10 And a man's uncle shall take him up, and he who burns him, to bring the bones out of the house, and shall say to him who is by the sides of the house, 'Is there yet any with you?' And he shall say, 'No.' Then he shall say, 'Hold your tongue, for we may not make mention of the name of the LORD.' 11 For behold, the LORD commands, and he will smite the great house with breaches and the little house with clefts.
12 "Shall horses run upon the rock? Will one plow there with oxen? For you have turned judgment into gall and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock,
13 You who rejoice in a thing of nothing, who say, 'Have we not taken horns for ourselves by our own strength?'
14 But behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel," says the LORD the God of hosts, "and they shall afflict you from the entrance of Hamath to the river of the wilderness."
John Gill's Chapter Summary:
This chapter seems to be directed both to the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and the ten tribes of Israel, under the names of Zion and Samaria, and to the principal men in both; who are reproved and threatened for their carnal security and self-confidence, being in no fear of the evil day, though they had no reason for it no more than other people (verses 1-3); are charged with wantonness, luxury, intemperance, and lack of sympathy with those in distress (verses 4-6); therefore are threatened to be carried captive first, and their city to be delivered up; which, for the certainty of it, is not only said, but swore to (verses 7-8); and a great mortality in every house, and the destruction of all houses, both great and small (verses 9-11); and since a reformation of them seemed impracticable, and not to be expected, but they gloried in their wealth, and boasted of their strength, therefore they should be afflicted by a foreign nation raised against them, which affliction should be general, from one end of the country to the other (verses 12-14).
[v.3] - "and cause the seat of violence to come near" - This can also be read as, "and draw near the throne of iniquity." From John Calvin's Commentary: "When therefore [the judges] thus hardened themselves in all kinds of licentiousness, they then drew near the throne of iniquity. And they put away the evil day, because they were touched by no alarm; for when the Prophets denounced God's vengeance, they regarded it as a fable."
[v.4] - "stall" - Or, fold (i.e., a pen or enclosure for sheep).
[v.5] - This verse is in no way condemning the enjoyment of music, nor David's use of music. This is rather showing that these chief men of the Israelites were using music for reasons in contrast to David. David used music for the singing of praise to God, as can be seen in the Psalms and elsewhere. But these people mentioned in this verse were using music to serve their purposes in their indulgences.
[v.7] - "those who stretched themselves out" - In other words, those who rest in confidence, or those who are at ease and secure (the same sense as in verse 1). Another reading could be, "those who are recumbent."
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 1-7:
Grant, almighty God, that since you show yourself at this day to be justly offended with us, and our own consciences reprove us, inasmuch as dreadful tokens appear, by which we learn how much and and how many ways we have provoked your wrath,— O grant, that we may be really touched with the consciousness of our evils, and being afflicted in our hearts, may be so humbled, that without any outward affliction, we may wholly submit ourselves to be reproved by you, and at the same time flee to that mercy which is laid up for us, and which you daily offer to us in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
[v.10] - "for we may not make mention of the name of the LORD" - This may also be read as, "for there is no reason for us to remember the name of the LORD."
[v.12a] - "Shall horses run upon the rock? Will one plow there with oxen?" - From Matthew Henry's Commentary: "The methods used for their reformation had been all fruitless and ineffectual: 'Shall horses run upon the rock,' to hurl or harrow the ground there? Or 'will one plough there with oxen?' No, for there will be no profit to countervail the pains. God has sent them his prophets, to break up their fallow-ground; but they found them as hard and inflexible as the rock, rough and rugged, and they could do no good with them, nor work upon them, and therefore they shall not attempt it anymore. They will not be reclaimed, and therefore shall not be reproved, but quite abandoned. Note, Those who will not be cultivated as fields and vineyards shall be rejected as barren rocks and deserts (Hebrews 6:7-8)."
[v.12b] - "For you have turned judgment into gall, etc." - "When our services of God are soured with sin, his providences will justly be embittered to us." —Matthew Henry
[v.13] - "horns" - In Hebrew, horns can signify eminence, strength, power, elevation, or any sort of defense.
[v.14] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The Prophet no doubt speaks here of the Assyrians, and expresses in strong terms how dreadful the war with the Assyrians would be, which was now near at hand; for though large was their land and country (and being large and spacious it had many outlets), yet the Prophet shows that there would be everywhere straits, when the Lord would raise up on high that nation... He again calls the Lord, the God of hosts, for the same reason as before,— that they might understand that all the Assyrians were at God's disposal, and that they would stir up war whenever he gave them a signal."
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 8-14:
Grant, Almighty God, that since we are extremely deaf to those so many holy warnings by which you continue to recall us to yourself, and since we ever harden ourselves against those threatenings, by which you terrify us, that you may break or at least correct our hardness,— O grant, that we may, though late, yet in time, before final vengeance comes, attend to your word and submit ourselves to you, and in a teachable spirit undertake your yoke, that you might receive us into favor, and vouchsafe to us your paternal kindness, and being at length reconciled to us, you might grant us your blessings, which you have promised to all your children, who are the members of your only begotten Son our Lord. Amen.