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Amo 5:1 Hear ye this word which I take up against you, [even] a lamentation, O house of Israel.
Ver. 1. Hear ye this word ] A new sermon, as appeareth by this new O yes; not unlike that of St Paul, Acts 13:16 , "Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience": or rather, that of Diogenes, who cried out at Athens, Aκουσατε ανδρες , Hear, O ye men. And when as (thereupon) a great sort of people resorted to him, expecting some great matter, he looked about him, and said, ανδρας εκαλεσα, ου καθαρματα , I called men, and not slaves. They were no better surely that our prophet had to deal with; "Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers," Isaiah 1:4 , children that were corrupters; they had forsaken the Lord, provoked the Holy One of Israel, they had increased revolt. Hence this onerosa prophetia, this word, this weighty word, this burdensome prophecy.
Which I take up against you ] Heb. lift up, being scarce able to stand under the burden of it, גשׁא , from this משׁא , onus. burden. See Trapp on " Mal 1:1 " And it is against you, not for you; but that is your own fault; for "do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?" Micah 2:7 . Excellently Austin, Adversarius est nobis quandiu sumus et ipsi nobis. The word of God is adversary to none but such as are adversaries to themselves; neither doth it condemn any but those that shall be assuredly condemned by the Lord except they repent. But we have in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, saith the apostle, 2 Corinthians 10:6 , and if any man will hurt God’s faithful witnesses, for discharging their duties, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies; and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed, Revelation 11:5 , for Elisha had his sword as well as Jehu and Hazael, 1 Kings 19:17 . And when Elisha unsheatheth and brandisheth his sword, it is a fair warning that the sword of Jehu and Hazael are at hand, See Hos 6:5 Jeremiah 1:18 .
Even a lamentation ] Heb. a very bitter lamentation, Ezekiel 19:14 , like those of Jeremiah for Judah, or of the mourners in Jerusalem, Ezekiel 9:4 , or of Christ weeping over that city, Luke 19:41-42 . Or of Paul bewailing his wretched countrymen, Romans 9:3 ; Romans 10:1 : or of the two witnesses clothed in sackcloth, Revelation 11:3 , the habit of mourners: or of Athanasius, who by his tears (as by the bleeding of a chaste vine) sought to cure the leprosy, and prevent the misery of that tainted age. Heu, heu, Domine Deus, Alas alas, Oh God, God, was the cry of the ancient Christians. Flete nefas magnum, nam toto flebitis orbe (Cardan.). Their books are like that in Ezekiel, written on both sides, and there was written therein, "lamentations, and mourning, and woe," Ezekiel 2:10 . This of Amos was a sad song, a doleful ditty, a lamentable prophecy of Israel’s utter destruction, as it followeth in the second verse, where (prophet-like) he speaketh of it as already done, notwithstanding their present prosperity and tranquillity. And have not England’s turtledoves groaned out for a great while the sad and lamentable tunes of woe and misery to this sinful nation; and plainly foretold what we have felt already, and have yet cause enough to fear. Ah! great be the plagues that hang over England (said Mr Philpot, martyr, long since). Happy shall that person be whom the Lord shall take out of this world, not to see them, &c. And the like said Rogers, our proto-martyr, Bradford, Ridley, Lever, &c., besides the concurrent predictions of God’s faithful servants lately, whose hearts and tongues he hath so guided, as that they all, as one man, have denounced heavy judgments, and taken up loud lamentations against us. Now, as before great storms cocks crow loud and thick: so is it here; and so it should be, Exo 32:31-32 Jer 18:20 Joel 2:17 ; else God will be displeased, Ezekiel 13:5 ; Ezekiel 22:30-31 .
Amo 5:2 The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; [there is] none to raise her up.
Ver. 2. The virgin of Israel is fallen ] i.e. Though of the spouse of God she be become the devil’s adulteress, Jer 3:1 Hosea 1:2 , yet she will needs be counted and called a virgin still; as Sardis, she hath a name to live, but is dead, Revelation 3:1 ; as the Romish crew cry themselves up the only Church Catholic, and therein (like oyster wives) do much outcry us. But what saith the Lord by his prophet Jeremiah, Jer 18:13 ? "Ask ve now among the heathen; who hath heard such things?" And "the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing." And the virgin of Rome may well say, as Quartilla the strumpet in Petronius doth, Iunonem meam iratam habeam, si unquam me meminerim virginem fuisse: I can hardly remember myself a maid. Israel may also be called a virgin, because she yet subsisted and flourished in her first liberty and splendour, till taken and defloured, as it were, by the Assyrian. And in this sense we read of the virgin of Babylon, Isaiah 47:1 ; of Egypt, Jeremiah 46:12 ; of Zidon, Isaiah 23:12 ; and now of Venice, whose motto is, Intacta maneo, I am still a maid; as having never yet fallen into the enemies’ power. Tournay, a town in France, was ever counted so invincible, that this sentence was engraven over one of the gates, Iannes ton me perdu ton pucellage, Thou hast never lost thy maidenhead. Yet was it yielded up to our King Henry VIII, with 10,000 pounds sterling, for the the citizens’ redemption. The virgin of Israel sped not so well.
She is fallen ] That is, she shall fall, surely, suddenly, utterly.
She shall no more rise ] i.e. Return out of captivity, and be restored to her pristine splendour; yet some think otherwise.
She is forsaken upon her land ] Proiecta est, prostrata iacet, she is thrown hard upon her ground, and as it were dashed against it, like an earthen pot against a rock; and all this, because she had left off righteousness in the earth, Amos 5:7 . Those that forsake God shall be forsaken of him, 2 Chronicles 15:2 .
There is none to raise her up ] God will not; and then, man cannot. "Behold," saith Bildad, "God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he take the ungodly by the hand," Job 8:20 , and he will bring them into trouble, and there leave them, Ezekiel 22:20 ; Ezekiel 29:5 . His own he will not leave; or if he do, yet forsake them he will not, Hebrews 13:5 ; and if men do, he will relieve them the rather. "Because they called thee an outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after; therefore I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord," Jeremiah 30:17 .
Amo 5:3 For thus saith the Lord GOD; The city that went out [by] a thousand shall leave an hundred, and that which went forth [by] an hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel.
Ver. 3. The city that went out by a thousand ] i.e. That had a thousand inhabitants passing to and fro through the gates, see Genesis 34:24 ; Genesis 23:10 , for men love not to be cooped up, or confined to a place, as the Duke of Venice is, but to be travelling and trading or that can send out a thousand fit to bear arms.
Shall leave an hundred ] Here is a woeful decimation, purporting a very great paucity of people; such as was threatened, Deuteronomy 28:62 , a tenth man only shall be left, if that. Behold the severity of God, and betray not the lives of others by an impenitent continuance in sin. Turn to God, if but for your poor brethren’s sake, that are in danger, or in durance. Hezekiah’s reason to repent is very remarkable, 2 Chronicles 30:9 : "For if ye turn again to the Lord, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land; for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn his face from you, if ye return unto him."
Shall leave ten ] Not take ten in a hundred and leave the rest, as the Roman generals used to do in the army, in case of a mutiny. This was fulfilled in that three years’ siege of Samaria, 2 Kings 18:10 , as afterwards the like occured at Jerusalem, which could hardly be repeopled in Nehemiah’s time, and at this day is but thinly inhabited; there being not a hundred households of Jews to be found there. In our countries, of the abundance of people cometh dearth, which maketh many malcontents to mutter; but in many parts of Turkey, for want of men to till the ground; most of the poor being enforced with victuals and other necessaries to follow their great armies, in their long expeditions; of whom scarce one of ten (saith mine author) ever return home again, there by the way perishing, if not by the enemies’ sword, yet by the wants, intemperateness of the air, or immoderate painstaking.
Amo 5:4 For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:
Ver. 4. For thus saith the Lord ] Or, truly thus saith the Lord; notwithstanding the former terrible sentence, which the prophet could not denounce with dry eyes; but takes up a lamentation, though less concerned in it, and might well say, as one did in another case,
“ Tu quibus ista legis, incertum est, lector ocellis,
Ipse quidem siccis dicere non potui. ”
All God’s threatenings (for the most part) are conditional, Jeremiah 18:7 ; Jeremiah 26:2 , sc. if men repent not. As if they do, they may live in his sight, and be accounted worthy (such is God’s great goodness) to escape all those things that shall befall the impenitent, Luke 21:36 . The gospel is post naufragium tabula, writing tablet after the ship wreck, sand hath its reward too, Hebrews 11:6 , sc. of grace and mercy. Do this and live, saith the law. Seek the Lord, and live, saith the gospel. "He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him," and that is the force of the Hebrew word here used, which signifieth to inquire, to make serious search and scrutiny, to seek him out ( εκζητησατε με , as the Seventy have it), when he is withdrawn; to seek him as a student doth sciences, a worldling gold, a hungry man meat, &c., as a man studiously turns over a commentary to find out the sense of a text, Isaiah 34:16 . Do this, saith God, and ye shall live; not only have your lives for a prey, but live merrily, happily. "Now we live," saith the apostle; that is, we rejoice, 1 Thessalonians 3:8 : and "Thus shall ye say to him that liveth"; that is, hath a comfortable life, and a confluence of blessings, 1 Samuel 25:6 . But besides all this, ye shall live for ever; and aeterna vita, vera vita, eternal life is the only life properly so called. Life (in what sense soever taken) is a sweet mercy: "A living dog is better than a dead lion," saith Solomon, Ecclesiastes 9:4 ; and "Joseph is yet alive," saith Jacob (he doth not say, Joseph is lord of Egypt), "I will get down, and see him before I die," Genesis 45:28 . "But eternal life is" (by a speciality and with an accent) "the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord," Romans 6:23 ; and this gift he will freely bestow on all that so seek him as not to be satisfied without him, as Moses, who would not be put off with an angel, but said, "If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence," Exodus 33:15 ; and as Luther, who when great gifts were sent him, refused them and said, Valde protestatus sum, me nolle sic satiari a Deo: I deeply protested that I would not be satisfied with these low things, but that I would have God or nothing. This was one of those brave apophthegms a of his, concerning which Melchior Adam well saith, A man would fetch them upon his knees from Rome, or Jerusalem, rather than be without them.
a A terse, pointed saying, embodying an important truth in few words; a pithy or sententious maxim. ŒD
Amo 5:5 But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.
Ver. 5. But seek not Bethel, &c. ] Make not lies your refuge, idols your oracles; "they that observe lying vanities do" (by their own election) "forsake their own mercies." Jon 2:8 But I (saith the prophet, who had now paid for his learning, and was yet under the lash) will sacrifice to thee alone, will seek thy face and favour, not at Bethel, or Gilgal, but in the place where thine honour dwelleth; not at Hull, Sichem, or Loretto, but in the true reformed Churches, in the beauties of holiness, in the midst of those seven golden candlesticks, in the hearts and houses of his faithful people, concerning whom he hath said, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them," 2 Corinthians 6:16 , and when they walk within their houses with a perfect heart, I will come unto them, Psalms 101:2 . I will there command my blessing, "even life for evermore," Psalms 133:3 : see Amo 4:4 Hosea 4:15 . See Trapp on " Amo 4:4 " See Trapp on " Hos 4:15 "
For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity ] An elegant alliteration in the original, such as the prophets are full of, and this plain prophet among the rest ( הגלגל גלה יגלה ): see Amos 8:2 . Ministers may sometimes rhetoricate; and it had need to be an elaborate speech that shall work upon the conscience.
And Bethel shall come to nought ] Heb. shall be Aven, as elsewhere it is called Betharch, Hosea 4:11 ; Hosea 10:5 . Against Beersheba he saith nothing; because that name afforded him not the like elegance, as Mercer thinketh; or because that city belonged to Judah, and so was not destroyed with the ten tribes, as Jerome holdeth, 1 Kings 19:3 . Seek not these places, saith the prophet, for help and succour in distress; but say, as Jeremiah 3:23 , "Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from these hills: truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel."
Amo 5:6 Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour [it], and [there be] none to quench [it] in Bethel.
Ver. 6. Seek ye the Lord, and ye shall live ] See Amos 5:4 . Sic eadem saepe surdis et obstinatis inculcantur (Mercer). The continual pressing of a duty imports: 1. The excellency; 2. The necessity; 3. The difficulty of doing it: else what need so many words? Perquam durum est, sed ita lex scripts est, saith Ulpian. Hard or not hard, it must be done, or men are undone.
Lest he break out like fire ] Lest he go through you and burn you together, Isaiah 27:4 , lest ye be "utterly burnt with fire in the same place," 2 Samuel 23:7 , that is, in hell (as some expound it), which the prophet called tormenting Tophet, Isaiah 30:33 , and Plato calleth πυριφλεγεθων , a fiery lake; so terrible, saith Bellarmine, that one glimpse of it were enough to make a man not only turn Christian and sober, but anchorite a and monk; to live after the strictest rule that may be.
a A person who has withdrawn or secluded himself from the world; usually one who has done so for religious reasons, a recluse, a hermit. ŒD
Amo 5:7 Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth,
Ver. 7. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood ] Ye grandees and governors of the people, that turn the sweetest thing into the sourest (as corruptio optimi pessima ), right into wrong dealing; that follow the administration of justice as a trade only, with an unquenchable and unconscionable desire of gain; not caring what becomes of righteousness, but leaving it off in the earth, or rather not leaving it at all upon earth ( terras Astraea reliquit ), but chasing it out of the world as much as in you lieth; while you cast it down to the ground, and tread it underfoot, Daniel 8:12 , while you oppress the just, crush the needy, &c., Amos 4:1 : see the note there. Some read the text, by way of exclamation, thus: O ye that turn judgment, &c.; q.d. What strange creatures are you! what monsters of men! what public scourges! what scabs! Isaiah 5:7 , God "looked for judgment, but behold oppression" (in the original it is, behold a scab); "for righteousness, but behold a cry": such a cry as entereth into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, Iudices instar scabiei molesti sunt oppressis (Piscator in loc.).
Amos 5:8 [Seek him] that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD [is] his name:
Ver. 8. Seek him that maketh the seven stars ] Once again, "Seek him"; that is, Return to him by true repentance; and by faith take hold of his strength, that ye may make peace, and ye shall make peace with him, Isaiah 27:5 . To stand out it boots not; since it is he that made Bootes and Orion, &c., that is, of infinite power; and doeth whatsoever he will in heaven and earth, "who only doeth wondrous things," Psalms 72:18 . See Amos 4:12-13 . Chimah and Chesil, that is, Pleiades and Orion, are twice mentioned together in Job. Noted stars they are, and known to shepherds and such like. Amos, likely, was but such an astronomer as herdsmen use to be. Those who write of these stars tell us, that Chimah comes of Chamah, to love ardently; because of the fellowship and working together that appears in them. They be seven stars that have all one name; because they all help one another in their work, which is to bring the spring; and like seven sisters or lovers, so are they joined together in one constellation, and in one company. We see (saith one) that God will have the sweetest works in nature to be performed by mutual help. The best time of the year cometh with these seven stars (hence we read of their sweet influence, Job 38:31 ), and the best time of our life cometh when we enter into true love and fellowship. As for Orion, it is the star (saith the same author) that brings winter; and his bonds cannot be loosed. It binds the earth with frost and cold, that the fruits thereof might be seasoned and made kindly against the spring: neither can the spring come till Orion have prepared the way. God will have us suffer before we reign. The word Chesil here used signifies, in the Chaldee, to perfect; because by suffering and offering violence to ourselves we enter into perfection, Luke 13:32 . If we would have a pleasant spring of graces in our hearts, we must first have a nipping winter: the spirit of mortification must be like the cold star Orion, to nip our quick motions in the head, and to bind all our unclean desires and burning lusts, that they stir not in us; and unless we do thus, the seven stars of comfort shall never appear to us.
And turneth the shadow of death, ] that is, the thickest darkness ( tenebras ferales et letales, Psa 23:4 ),
into the morning ] Into "the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day," Proverbs 4:18 . This severing of night from day and day from night, this mutual and orderly succession and course of the night after the day, and the day after the night, the lengthening and shortening of the days in summer and winter, the wonderful eclipses, and other occurrents of that nature, are works of God’s power and providence, not to be slighted, but improved to true repentance. We are to mark the countenance of the sky, and to discern the face of heaven; that every day and night winketh at us, and beckoneth to us, to remember the wisdom, power, justice, and mercy of God lined out unto us in the brows of the firmament. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork," Psalms 19:1 . The creatures are Regii professores, ministers of the King, saith one; Catholic preachers, saith another; Real apostles of the divinity, saith a third. Clemens Alexandrinus saith, that the world is Dei scriptura, word of God, the first Bible that God made for the instruction of man. Antonius Eremita told a philosopher, who objected to him his want of books, that the universe was to him instead of a well furnished library, everywhere ready at hand. Hugo affirmeth, that everything uttereth these three words, Accipe, Redde, Fuge, Receive mercy, Return duty, Shun sin, together with that hell that it hales at the heels of it. Much a man may learn out of the book of nature, with its three leaves, Heaven, Earth, and Sea; but there he must not rest. For, as where the naturalist ends the physician begins; so, where nature fails and can go no farther, there Scripture succeeds and gives more grace, James 4:6 Psalms 19:1-2 ; Psalms 19:7-8 . The Chaldee paraphrast takes this text allegorically, as if the sense were; God changeth his hand towards the sons of men at his pleasure, prospering them one while, crossing them another; so that they walk in darkness and have no light, Isaiah 50:10 , yea, they walk through the vale of the shadow of death, Psalms 23:4 . Not through a dark entry or churchyard in the night time, but a valley, a large, long, vast place; not of darkness only, but of death; and not bare death, but the shadow of death, that is, the darkest and most dismal side of death, in its most hideous and horrid representations. And yet if God be with his Davids in this sad condition, no hurt shall befall them, but much good.
“ Flebile principium melior fortuna sequetur. ”
That calleth for the waters of the sea ] That is, for great armies, saith the Chaldee. But better take it literally, of the generation of rain, the chief author whereof is God: the material cause is the sea sending up vapours; the instrumental cause is the sun, by the beams whereof God draws the vapour upwards; sends for them, as it were, into the middle region of the air, there thickeneth them into clouds, and then resolveth them into rain. This Kimchi illustrateth by the simile of a boiling pot, whereout vapours and fumes, ascending to the colder pot lid, are turned into drops of water, see Genesis 2:6 .
The waters of the sea ] 1 Kings 18:44 , a little cloud arose out of the sea like a man’s hand. And presently the prophet said to Ahab, "Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds," &c.
“ Humorem magno tollunt ex aequore ponti
Nubes, qui in tote terrarum spargitur orbe,
Cum pluit in terris ” (Lucret. lib. 6).
The naturalists observe that it snows not in the sea, because it sends up hot vapours, which presently dissolve the snow.
The Lord is his name ] His memorial, Hosea 12:5 . See Trapp on " Hos 12:5 " He is not an idol, to be dallied with and deluded.
Amo 5:9 That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress.
Ver. 9. That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong ] Victorem a victo superari saepe videmus. God can quickly change the scene, turn the scales, Jeremiah 37:10 , though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire. In a bloody fight between Amurath III, king of Turks, and Lazarus, despot of Servia, many thousands fell on both sides. In conclusion the Turks had the victory, and Lazarus was slain. Amurath, after that great victory, with some few of his chief captains, taking view of the dead bodies, which without number lay on heaps in the field like mountains, a Christian soldier, sore wounded and all blood, seeing him, in staggering manner arose (as if it had been from death) out of a heap of slain men, and making toward him, for want of strength fell down various times by the way as he came, as if he had been a drunken man. At length, drawing nigh unto him, when they which guarded the king’s person would have stayed him, he was by Amurath himself commanded to come nearer, supposing that he would have craved his life of him. Thus this half-dead Christian, pressing nearer unto him, as if he would, for honour’s sake, have kissed his feet, suddenly stabbed him in the bottom of his belly with a short dagger which he had under his coat; of which wound that great king and conqueror presently died. The name of this man was Miles Cobelite, who, before sore wounded, was shortly after in the presence of Bajazet (Amurath’s son), cut into small pieces. So in that memorable fight between the Swissers and the Dolphin, near to Basil, when Burcardus, monk, a nobleman and a great soldier, grew proud of the victory, and put up his helmet that he might behold what a slaughter they had made, one of the half-dead Swissers, rising up upon his knees, threw a stone at him, which, hitting right, gave him his death’s wound. At the battle of Agincourt, where our Henry V won the day, the French were so confident of a victory, that they sent to King Henry, to know what ransom he would give. Henry, comforting his army with a speech, resolved to open his way over the enemy’s bosom, or else to die. After which, such was the courage of the English, notwithstanding their great wants, as he that ere while could scarcely bend his bow is able now to draw his yard long arrow to the very head.
So that the spoiled (or spoil) shall come against the fortress] And take it by assault. Deus loca, quantumvis valida, vasta facit. There is no strength against the Lord, Proverbs 21:30 .
Amo 5:10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.
Ver. 10. They hate him that rebuketh in the gate ] In dome iudicii, saith the Chaldee: for the gate was the place of judgment, Amos 5:12 ; Amos 5:15 Deuteronomy 17:5 ; Deuteronomy 17:12 ; Deuteronomy 17:15 . Those, then, that did not approve and applaud the oppressions and wrongdealings of the judges, and rich bribers, but cried out against such, and took the same liberty to rebuke them that they did to commit them, these were hated, cane peius et angue, worse than any toad. Thus Ahab hated Micaiah, the Sodomites Lot, the Jews Jeremiah, their successors Christ, the Baptist, Stephen, Paul. Thus those of Geneva hated Farellus, their faithful minister, tried him for his life, banished him out of their territories. Thus afterwards some of them hated Calvin, calling him Cain; yea, calling their dogs Calvin, in derision and detestation of him. And thus Bishop Ridley, lamenting the state of England, even of thy greatest magistrates, saith he, some (the king’s Highness excepted) evermore unkindly and ungently against those that went about most busily and wholesomely to cure their sore backs, spurned privily, and would not spare to speak evil of them, even to the prince himself; and yet would they toward the same preachers outwardly bear a jolly countenance and fair face. As for Latimer, Lever, Bradford, Knox, their tongues were so sharp, they ripped in so deep in their galled backs, to have purged them, no doubt, of their filthy matter that was festered in their hearts, of insatiable covetousness, of filthy carnality and voluptuousness, of intolerable ambition and pride, of ungodly loathsomeness to hear poor men’s cases, and to hear God’s word. And these men, of all others, these magistrates then could never abide, &c. Thus he, and much more to the same purpose. They were then sick of a Noli me tangere, do not be touched by me, and so, alas, they are still. How few Vespasians to be found, of whom Quintilian testifieth, that he was patientissimus veri, one that would patiently hear the naked truth of things; not toothless truths only, but such as touched to the quick! How few Davids, that loved Nathan the better ever after, for dealing so plainly and faithfully with him, and made him of his cabinet council! How few Queen Elizabeths, who called often for her Deering by whom she was barely told of her faults; though the bishops, those court parasites, would never suffer him to preach more before her! The Queen of Navarre would not hearken to such ministers as disliked that fatal French match (that gave opportunity afterwards to the Parisian Massacre) in regard of the diversity of religions; but inclined rather to those that smoothed her up, and told her that it would lay the foundation of a lasting and most happy peace. And generally of those French Reformed churches it was observed, that for some years before that bloody massacre they affected a frothy, flashy kind of preaching; and cared not for that which came home to the conscience. See my Common Place of Admonition.
And they abhor him that speaketh uprightly ] Auget orationem, saith Drusius. The prophet groweth in his expression of their wickedness: for to abhor is more than to hate; see Proverbs 6:16 . Hatred (as they say of the crocodile) groweth as long as it liveth. Sin is of an encroaching nature. If a serpent devour a serpent (saith the proverb) he becometh a dragon, Serpens si serpentem comederit fit draco. Hatred of the truth, as runner, the older it is the stronger; the Pharisees for instance, who did not only inwardly swell and boil with hellish hatred of Christ, his works, and doctrine, but also outwardly belched out against him the basest blasphemies; and in their pertinacious working, constantly persecuted him, even to the most reproachful death of the cross. This is merces mundi, the world’s wages to God’s faithful witnesses. They "make a man an offender for a word" (yea, for speaking uprightly), "and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought," Isaiah 29:21 . An expectas ut Quintilianus ametur? said he: Dost thou think that plain dealing Quintilian should be loved? it is not likely. To preach, saith Luther, the truth which is according to godliness, is nothing else but to derive the rage of the whole world upon a man’s self. 30392- Amos 5:11 <2003/06/17 10:26> Ver. 11. Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor] "Panting after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor," Amo 2:7 Psalms 109:16 . Some render, Ye fire the poor; others, ye plunder them; so the Chaldee, and Jerome. The Seventy have it, Ye smite them with fists, Kατακονδυλιζειν . But better, Ye foot it upon them, and make them sell their commodities underfoot (as we phrase it), to pay your heavy taxes, and satisfy your greedy covetousness. &&& Poor-Oppression of
And ye take from him burdens of wheat ] Heb. the finest wheat, and best winnowed; these ye force him to make money of, for your use; glad to feed upon the rotted wheat himself.
Ye have built houses of hewn stone ] Squared and polished, thinking to flourish, and frolic ( οικους ξεστους . Domos rasiles et politas. Sept.): but the screech owls of woe crying aloud from the stones out of those walls, shall mar your mirth, Habakkuk 2:11 .
But ye shall not dwell in them ] For either ye shall be prevented by death, and sent to dwell with devils; or be carried away captive, and a stranger possess your new buildings, Deuteronomy 28:30 .
Ye have planted pleasant vineyards ] As he in the history, that, having a cup of new wine in his hand, expressed out of the grapes of his newly planted vineyard, was set upon and slain by a wild boar, before he could drink it, and gave occasion to that proverb, Multa cadunt inter calicem supremaque labra; Many things fall between the cup and the lip, between the chin and the chalice (Erasm. Adag.). Hereunto agreeth that story in Mr Burroughs upon Hosea (Burr. on Hos. i. p. 379). I had, saith he, certain information, from a reverend minister, that in his own town there was a wretched worldling, who had a great crop of grain. A good honest neighbour of his walking by his field, saith, Neighbour, you have a very fine crop of grain if God bless it. Yea, saith he, I will have a good crop, speaking contemptuously; and before he could come to get it into the barn, it was so blasted, that the grain of the whole crop was not worth sixpence. God hath many ways to defeat the wicked man’s expectation, and the hope of unjust men perisheth, Proverbs 11:7 . Etiam spes valentissima perit, so some render that text, he shall die or miscarry, in the very height of his hopes and expectations.
Amo 5:12 For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate [from their right].
Ver. 12. For I know your manifold transgressions, and your mighty sins ] I know them, and can easily set them in an order before your eyes, Psalms 50:21 , bring them out (as they did the vessels of the sanctuary) by number and by weight, Ezra 8:34 : make you answer for all with flames about your ears, lay open your many transgressions, and mighty sins, fortia peccata. The Hebrew hath it, your bony, or big boned sins; huge, heinous, and monstrous, capable of all manner of aggravations. All these I know, saith God, they are all in print in heaven, and I will one day read them aloud in the ears of all the world. Fac ergo confitendo propitium, quem tacendo non facis nescium, saith Austin. Make, therefore, God thy friend, by confessing thy sins to him, which thou canst not by any means conceal from him.
They afflict the just ] They pinch and distress him by their oppressions, which are often here laid in their dish, as an abomination to the Lord; for he is merciful, see Amos 2:6 .
They take a bribe ] A ransom to blind their eyes (Copher), as 1 Samuel 12:3 , or a pacification of their pretended displeasure against heinous crimes brought before them. Olim didiei quid sint munera, said a worthy man: Once I have learned long since, how dangerous a thing it is for men in place to meddle with gifts. A public person, as he should have nothing to lose, so nothing to get; he should be above all price or sale.
They turn aside the poor in the gate ] That is, in the place of judicature. This makes many that go to law, to be at length of Themistocles’ mind; who professed that if two ways were shown him, one to hell, and the other to the bar, he would choose that which went to hell, and forsake the other. Another said, that he wondered much at two sorts of men; viz. those that go to sea, and those that go to law: not so much that they did so at first, but that, after trial, they would ever go a second time.
Amo 5:13 Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it [is] an evil time.
Ver. 13. Therefore the prudent shall keep silence ] According to that old and good rule, Either keep silence, or speak that which is better than silence, η σιγαν, η κρεισσονα οιγης λεγειν . There is "a time to keep silence, and a time to speak," Ecclesiastes 3:7 , and it is a singular skill to time a word, Isaiah 50:4 , to set it upon its circumferences, Proverbs 25:11 , so to speak, and so to do, as those that shall be judged by the law of liberty, James 2:12 . He that would be able to speak right and forcible words, must first learn how and when to keep silence. It is not good casting pearls before swine; nor pulling a bear or mad dog by the ear. It is the true ambition of a Christian, to study to he quiet, to meddle with his own business, 1 Thessalonians 4:11 , ιδιοπραγμονειν , to affect rather quietness from the wicked world than acquaintance with it, and to pass through it with as little noise and notice as he can. Not but that God’s faithful servants must cry aloud, and not spare, lifting up their voices like a trumpet, &c., Isaiah 58:1 , and casting away the inverse trumpets of Furius Fulvus, which sounded a retreat, when they should have sounded an alarm. But this must be done with godly discretion. Zeal should eat us up, but not eat up our wisdom (saith one), nor should policy eat up our zeal. The apostles professed that they could not but speak the things that they had heard and seen; they must either vent or burst. And yet holy Paul (who was full of the spirit of judgment and of burning, Isa 4:4 ), though he preached at Ephesus (where he lived two years and more together) that they be no gods that are made with hands; yet he made no particular invective against their great goddess Diana, whereon they so impotently doted, Acts 19:26 ; Acts 19:37 , He that hath a good mixture of zeal and prudence is like a ship well ballasted, that sails with a prosperous gale; but zeal without discretion is like fire on the chimney top; or like mettle in a blind horse; or the devil in the demoniac, that cast him sometimes into the fire, and sometimes into the water. What a storm of persecution raised Bishop Abdias in Persepolis by his intemperate zeal, not bridled with discretion; as the poets fable that Minerva put a golden bridle upon Pegasus, lest he should fly too fast? And it was some disadvantage to Paul, when in the council (though provoked and unjustly smitten) he called the high priest whited wall; he was glad to excuse it by his ignorance. We may not he too bold or too forward to speak in a good matter, to such as hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and abhor him that speaketh uprightly, Amos 5:10 .
For it is an evil time ] By reason of an evil and adulterous generation, that make it so. It is a day of evil, as Psalms 41:1 , that is, of difficulty and danger, to those that dare speak out: such as were Tiberius’s times. That tiger laid hold with his teeth on all the brave spirits that could speak their minds fitly, and dared to do it freely. He put to death a certain poet, which in a tragedy had inveighed against Agamemnon; suspecting himself to be intended. Freedom of speech used by the Waldenses in blaming and reproving the vices, dissolute manners, life, and actions of great ones, made them looked upon and persecuted as heretics and enemies to the see apostolic, as Manichees, Catharists, what not? (Girardus).
Amo 5:14 Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.
Ver. 14. Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live ] See Amos 5:4 ; Amos 5:6 . Oh seek, seek, seek, saith our prophet; as some of the martyrs cried out, Pray, pray, pray: Mr Sanders and Mrs Askew repeated those words two different times together, Mr Marsh once, adding, Never more need. To seek God is to seek good, and to find life; for with him is the fountain of life, Psalms 36:9 . To seek evil is to seek the devil, who is that evil one ( ο πονηρος ): it is, as Solomon saith in a like case, "a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death," Proverbs 21:6 .
And so the Lord, the God of hosts, shall be with you ] To assist and accept you in seeking good; to protect and provide for you in shunning evil. Deal courageously, therefore, and God shall be with the good, 2 Chronicles 19:11 , as your seven-fold shield ( επραβοειος ), and exceeding great reward, Genesis 15:1 . See Trapp on " Gen 15:1 "
As ye have spoken ] Ut praedicatis et iactitatis, as ye boast and bear yourselves bold upon; saying, as Micah 2:11 , "Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us." But that is as you make it; for ye are upon your behaviour. The fault is not in God, but wholly in yourselves, if ye live not happily, reign not everlastingly, - at Paris ut vivat regnetque beatus Cogi posse negat (Horat. Eph 2:1-22 ). God is far from men’s hearts; and therefore far from their help: for "can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Amos 3:3 .
Amo 5:15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.
Ver. 15. Hate the evil, and love the good ] God doth so; you must also, or else never look for his gracious presence with you: for idem velle, atque idem nolle, ea demure vera est Amicitia; True friends do both will and nill the same things. Minutius Felix saith, that he and his friend Octavius did so. The like did Basil and Nazianzen, Jonathan and David:
“ Corporibus geminis spiritus unus erat. ”
All God’s people, as they partake of the Divine nature, so they live the life of God, Ephesians 4:18 , and have the same both sympathies and antipathies (as I may so speak), abhorring that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good, Romans 12:9 . God, they know, hateth evil worse than he hateth the devil; for he hateth the devil for sin’s sake, and not sin for the devil’s sake: so do they, looking upon sin as the most loathsome thing in the world, the very vomit of the devil, which (so far as they are regenerate) they do infinitely loathe to lick up. And for that which is good, whether things or persons, these they heartily love; not only with a love of desire, as Psalms 42:1-2 , but also of complacency, as Psalms 73:25-26 , herein resembling Almighty God; not as an image doth a man, in outward lineaments only, but as a son doth his father, in nature and disposition; being daily more and more conformed to the heavenly pattern, and transformeed into the same image from glory to glory, by his Spirit.
And establish judgment in the gate ] Which hitherto ye have not done, Amos 5:10 ; Amos 5:12 . Perform the duties of your own particular places; be good justicers as well as good men. It is said of Galba and of our Richard III, that they were bad men but good princes; but I hardly think it. Some good parts they might have, and some good acts they might do; but good princes they could not be, unless they did "hate the evil and love the good": but so doth not any bad man, for want of better principles. Make the tree good and the fruits will be good: and the contrary. Evil men may be some way useful to the public, and do good offices for the Church, and yet perish, because not in a good manner, upon a good motive, and for a good end. Revelation 12:16 , the earth helped the woman; and yet, Revelation 16:1 , the vials of God’s wrath were poured out upon the earth. A good magistrate, as he sits in God’s place (the judgment seat is called the holy place, Ecc 8:10 ), so he, loving what God loveth, and hating where God hateth, can boldly write over it that distich, that is said to be written over the tribunal in Zant, in letters of gold;
“ Hic locus odit, amat, punit, conservat, honorat,
Nequitiam, pacem, crimina, iura, bones. ”
It may be that the Lord ] Or, out of doubt, the Lord God of hosts will be gracious, &c. He is surely ready, were men but ripe and right for mercy; it sticks only on their part, and not on his; he waiteth to be gracious, Isaiah 30:18 . Oh unworthy we that cause him so to do. Currat poenitentia, ne praecurrat sententia (Chrysologus). They are but a remnant that shall have mercy; a few that shall find favour. Oh, labour to be of those few that shall enter into life, Luke 13:24 .
Amo 5:16 Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing [shall be] in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing.
Ver. 16. Therefore the Lord God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus ] Therefore? wherefore? because neither promises of mercy nor menaces of misery will work upon you, stand forth, and hear your doom, your sentence of condemnation; and it beginneth, as is usual, In nomine Dei: In the name of God, neither can you say, as that martyr did, when wrongfully sentenced, ye begin in a wrong name. To assure the matter, the prophet here heapeth up three majestic names of God; that they might tremble and turn, considering the greatness of him with whom they here have to do, being "glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders," Exodus 15:11 .
Wailing shall be in all streets, &c. ] A general outcry, as once in Egypt, when in every house there was a dead corpse; or, as at the taking and sacking of Troy there was
“ Luctus ubique, pavor, et plurima morris imago ”( Virg.).
And they shall say in all the highways, Alas, alas ] Man is a creature apt to overly grieve for crosses, and to fill the air with moans and complaints of his misery. The Latin word Aeger, for a sick person, is judged to come from Aι, αι , the doleful expression of his grief. The Greek word ουαι is as much as ουκ αει , Not ever. We are soon weary of suffering, and would fain see an end of it; and therefore cry out for help. The Hebrew word here used, He, He, is the same with our Oh, Oh; it is dolentis particula, it is eiulantis, the broken speech of one in great dolour and durance. Nature need not to be taught to tell her own tale when in distress, then men are apt to be eloquent even beyond truth; they add, they multiply, they rise in their discourse, like him in the poet, I am thrice miserable, nay, ten times, nay, a hundred, ten hundred times: τρις κακοδαιμων, και τετρακις και μυριακις (Aristoph.): whereas they should correct their excessive complaints with that other, οιμοι τι δ οιμοιο , Alas, alas. But why alas? Nothing hath befallen us but what is human, common to men and our betters, 1 Corinthians 10:13 .
And they shall call the husbandman to mourning ] For the marring of his grain by the enemy, or by the vermin. Others read it thus, The husbandman shall send for those that are skilful in lamentation to mourning and wailing.
And such as are skilful of lamentation ] An ordinary practice in those eastern parts (as now also in Ireland) to hire artificial mourners at funerals to sing doleful ditties. Ut qui conducti plorant in funere. See Jer 9:17 Matthew 9:23 . See Trapp on " Jer 9:17 " See Trapp on " Mat 9:23 " Of the lawfulness of this custom the prophet speaketh not. Many things are mentioned in Scripture and made use of but not approved, as usury, Matthew 25:27 ; dancing, Matthew 11:17 ; theft, 1 Thessalonians 5:2 ; injustice, Luke 16:1 ; the Isthmian games, 1 Corinthians 9:24 .
Amo 5:17 And in all vineyards [shall be] wailing: for I will pass through thee, saith the LORD.
Ver. 17. And in all vineyards shall be wailing ] Where used to be great jollity and revelry riot in time of vintage, Psalms 4:7 . The calamity shall be common, the scourge overflowing; and all sorts shall have their share. See Joel 1:5 ; Joel 1:11 ; Joel 1:13 .
For I will pass through thee, saith the Lord ] As a fire in a thick wood, James 3:5 , or dry stubble, Joe 2:5 Nahum 1:10 . I will go through them, I will burn them together, Isaiah 27:4 , make a short work with them, Romans 9:28 . So fearful a thing it is to fall into the punishing hands of the living God, Hebrews 10:31 , to stand in his way, when his sword is in commission, and he saith to it, "Sword, go through the land; cut off man and beast from it," Ezekiel 14:17 . Let this be thought on by those secure ones that live as if they were out of the reach of God’s rod; for "what if the sword contemn even the rod?" Ezekiel 21:13 , and be drenched in the gall of these sturdy rebels? what then?
Amo 5:18 Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end [is] it for you? the day of the LORD [is] darkness, and not light.
Ver. 18. Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord ] The day of his visitation when he will go through us, as you prophets would make believe. Where is the promise of his coming? Let him make speed and hasten his work, that we may see it, Isa 5:19 Jeremiah 17:15 . Let him increase his army and come down, Judges 9:29 . Such jeering and daring spirits there are still abroad. But do they provoke the Lord to anger? are they stronger than he? The great and terrible day of the Lord will come time enough to their cost; they need not accelerate it. Can they stand to his trial? or abide the thunder of his power? Job 26:14 .
To what end is it for you ] When God shall answer you, as he did a far better man, out of the whirlwind, and say, "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man," Job 38:2-3 . Where, then, shall the ungodly and the wicked appear? 1 Peter 4:18 ; what hills will they call upon to fall on them, when the elements shall fall upon them like scalding lead or burning bell metal; and yet all this be but the beginning of their sorrows! "Now therefore be not ye mockers, lest your bands be made strong," Isaiah 28:22 . God can easily hamper you if he once take you in hand.
The day of the Lord is darkness, and not light ] No interchange of light; "an evil, an only evil," without mixture of mercy, Ezekiel 7:5 , a black and dismal day of one mischief upon another, in a continued series. "Affliction shall not rise up the second time," Nahum 1:9 , but ye shall totally and finally be destroyed; wrath shall come upon you to the utmost, 1 Thessalonians 2:16 . This is illustrated in the next verse by an apt similitude.
Amo 5:19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.
Ver. 19. As if a man did fly from a lion ] And so by running from his death should run to it; by seeking to shun the shelves should split against a rock, Incidit in Scyllam, &c., as Nicodemus Frischline (that famous poet, orator, and philosopher), endeavouring to escape out of close prison, by casting himself out at a window, the rope broke, and he perished by falling headlong upon a rock: so fareth it with those that fear not God. Aliud ex alio malum, one mischief treadeth on the heels of another, as Job’s messengers. The clouds return after the rain, Ecclesiastes 12:2 , as in April weather one shower is unburdened, another is brewed: "and deep calleth upon deep at the noise of the waterspouts," Psalms 42:7 . "Evil shall hunt the violent man to destroy him," Psalms 140:11 , your sins shall find you out as a bloodhound, Numbers 32:23 , as it did that Popish priest in London, who, having escaped the fall of Blackfriars, A.D. 1623 (where Drury had his brains knocked out of his head, together with his sermon), and taking water, with a purpose to sail into Flanders, was cast away (together with some others) under London bridge; the boat being overturned. And as Philip II, King of Spain, who, going from the Low Countries into Spain by sea, fell into a storm in which almost all the fleet was wrecked, his household stuff of very great value lost, and himself hardly escaped. He said he was delivered by the singular providence of God to root out Lutheranism, which he presently began to do. But the hand of God was upon him in an extraordinary manner; for beside the invincible Armada here defeated, to his great heartbreak (for his pretended patience was but as the fever called Epialis, wherein men are cold without but as hot as fire within), he fell into that most loathsome lousy disease, called Phthiriasis, whereof at length he died.
And a bear met him ] A bear robbed of her whelps (which she licketh into form, and loveth above measure) is a very fierce and fell creature. To meet her in such a rage is to meet death in the very face; and yet that danger may be sooner shifted and shunned than the heavy wrath of God avoided or averted without true and timely repentance: there is no way to run from him but by running penitently to him; as in a tempest at sea it is very dangerous to strike to the shore; the safest way is to have sea room, and to keep in to keep in the open main still.
Or went into the house ] To shelter himself from the bear; as every creature in danger runneth to its harbour, Pro 30:26 Psalms 104:18 .
And leaned his hand on the walls ] As being breathless in running, and glad to stay himself on what he can next lay hold on. Man, like the vine, must have somewhat to lean on, if it be but a broken reed or bulging wall, Psalms 62:3 ; he shifts and shirks in every bycorner for comfort, as the Papists (stung by the friars’ sermons) do by pardons and penances, which are but palliate cures.
For a serpent bites them ] The guilt of sin abiding, "biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder," Proverbs 23:32 .
Amos 5:20 [Shall] not the day of the LORD [be] darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?
Ver. 20. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, &c. ] q.d. How say ye now; when thus beset with mischief on all hands, such as ye can neither avoid nor abide, must ye not needs subscribe to the truth of what I said, Amos 5:18 , and do here again repeat (that you may the better observe it) with greater emphasis and earnestness? you shall not have the least glimmering of comfort, ease, direction, or good counsel. To what end, then, should you desire this dreadful day of the Lord? Are you in haste to be undone?
Amo 5:21 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
Ver. 21. I hate, I despise your feast days ] Wherewith ye think to stop my mouth and to make me your debtor; saying, as that Roman emperor, when his enemy came against him, Non sic Deos coluimus ut ille nos vinceret, We have not so served the gods that they should serve us no better than to give the enemy the better of us. The feast days and solemn assemblies you so much build upon are yours, and not mine; "I never commanded them" (viz. as you may use them), "neither came they ever into my mind," Jeremiah 32:35 . So far am I, therefore, from accepting your sacrifices, as that I hate, I despise, I will not smell: an elegant asyndeton, importing God’s utter distaste of what they did ("The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind!" Pro 21:27 ), and assuring a sudden vengeance, as in that quick and smart passage, Go, preach, baptize, "he that believeth not shall be damned," Mark 16:16 . Will-worship and outsideness in religion is very odious to the Almighty; and stinks worse in his nostrils than any ill vapour from the vilest dunghill doth in ours: or as those poisonous smells that ascended up once from the five cities of the plain, and brought down from him a counter poison of fire and brimstone. Rome also (that spiritual Sodom) shall be destroyed in like sort, with a terrible fire, Revelation 17:16 ; Revelation 18:8-9 , for her detestable will-worships, superstitions, and idolatries, which no other nitre can possibly purge. Revelation 13:18 , the whole "number of the beast," whatsoever is numbered to belong unto him, is but the "number of a man," human inventions and will wisdom; men will have it so; and this is the sum of all Popish religion. When the wit of man will be overpleasing God, with better devices than his own, will needs despite him with seeming honours; it turns to madness, and ends in mischief.
Amo 5:22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept [them]: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.
Ver. 22. Though ye offer me burnt offerings, &c. ] So long as ye stick in the bark, please yourselves in the external performance, rest in the work done, think to expiate your sins by your duties, and to set off with God for your bad deeds by your good, and to get a licence thereby to live as you list: "though ye offer me burnt offerings," which were wholly burnt in sacrifice to God, and so were ordinarily most acceptable.
I will not accept them ] Nor shall you be a button the better for them, but the worse. Isaiah 63:8 , yea, though ye added wine, oil, and incense, that there might be a savour of rest in it. The very heathens could say, that God’s favour is not to be gained by multitude of sacrifices, but by the integrity of those that offer them.
Neither will I regard (or look at) the peace offerings of your fat beasts] Whether sheep or oxen, or another distinct creature bigger than an ox, called in the Arabic dialect gamus, as Aben Ezra affirmeth, the French call it buffie, and we the buffe, or wild ox: all would not do; God would neither see nor hear, as it followeth.
Amo 5:23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.
Ver. 23. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs ] No more pleasing to me than the grunting of a hog or the braying of an ass, because hateless, heartless; for as every sound is not music, so neither is every musical sound melodious to God. The voice which is made in the mouth is nothing so sweet to our ears as that which comes from the depth of the breast. "Sing with grace in your hearts," is the best tune to all the psalms; which are therefore called "spiritual songs," Colossians 3:16 , both because they are indited by the Spirit, and are to be sung with the spirit, 1 Corinthians 14:15 , and because they being so sung, do make us more spiritual in the use of them; while we sing David’s Psalms with David’s heart.
For I will not hear the melody of thy viols ] Or of thine organ, harp, cittern, lute, bag pipe, for so some render it, with respect to the etymology of the word Nebel. The Greek rendereth it, Of the psalteries. What need we trouble ourselves much about those things whereof we can neither have proof nor profit, at least not profit enough to pay for the pains? God will not hear either their voice or instrument music, because the heart was wanting.
“ Non vex sed votum, non musica chordula, sed cor. ”
The deeper and hollower the belly of the lute or viol is the pleasanter is the sound; the fleeter, the more grating and harsh in our ears. Think the same of God, and see how exceeding offensive to all his senses, yea, to his very soul, hypocrisy is, Isaiah 1:11-13 .
Amo 5:24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Ver. 24. But let judgment run down ] Heb. roll down freely, plentifully, and plainly, ut devolutus monte praecipiti torrens, as the great billows of the sea, or as waves rolling over rocks, so let judgment and equity be constantly and vigorously administered and executed.
And righteousness as a mighty stream ] That comes with a force, and bears down all before it. Fiat iustitia, runt orbis, Let justice be done whatever come of it. The sun might as soon be turned out of his course as Fabricius out of the track of truth and justice, saith the historian. How much better might this have been said of Job, Moses, Phineas, Nehemiah, &c., famous in their generations for brandishing the sword of justice against the friends of Baal, Balaam, and Bacchus, for turning the wheel over all such roaring monsters, such lewd and lawless Belialists, as, hardened with impunity, dare oppose with crest and breast whosoever or whatsoever standeth in the way of their wicked lusts and practices. Oh this was better than burnt offerings without this; this was that actual, magisterial, and majestic kind of devotion, that pleased God far better than an "ox that hath horns and hoofs."
Amo 5:25 Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?
Ver. 25. Have ye offered unto me sacrifices, &c. ] i.e. To me only, and not to other gods also? did ye not begin betime to play the idolaters? and do ye not "fill up the measure of your fathers?" Matthew 23:32 . They sojourned in Egypt, and brought thence a golden calf: Jeroboam sojourned there, and brought home two; which were no sooner up than you were down upon your knees, where still you continue at your mawmet worship. Is it not even so, O house of Israel? And was it not even so in the wilderness, where and when I bore with your "evil manners" ( ετροποφορησα ) "about the time of forty years," Acts 13:18 (for full forty it was not, but thirty-eight only and some few months), and was provoked by you ten times, Numbers 14:22 , when I had but newly brought you out of Egypt, Amos 3:1-2 . So that your idolatry is hereditary; and therefore the more ingrained and to be abhorred. God alone is to be worshipped, Exodus 20:2-3 1 Kings 18:21 ; truly that there be no halting, and totally that there be no halving. Be the gods of the heathen good fellows, saith one: the true God is a jealous God, and will not share his glory with another. For indeed he is the one, Deuteronomy 6:4 , and only God, Psalms 86:10 , besides whom, Psalms 18:32 , without whom, 1 Samuel 2:2 , and beyond whom, 1 Kings 8:6 , there is none other, Deuteronomy 4:39 , nor any like him, 2 Samuel 7:22 , nor any with him, Isaiah 44:24 ; he is the only Lord, and besides him there is none other, Joel 2:27 .
Amo 5:26 But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.
Ver. 26. But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch ] That idols were wont to be carried upon men’s shoulders we may see, Isaiah 56:7 ; Bar 6:3 ; Bar 2:5 . That Moloch or Milcom was the abomination of the Ammonites (who called their king as the Israelites called the true God, Isaiah 44:6 ; Isa 33:22 ), see 1 Kings 11:5 ; that the Israelites should do thus in the wilderness (where they had God’s tabernacle erected), carrying about them privily some portable chapels or pictures of these idols (as some hold they did, and Josephus seems to say as much), was monstrous wickedness, and the guise of men given up to a reprobate sense, Romans 1:23 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 .
And Chiun your images ] That is, your notable image, the plural for the singular, as often; especially in names of dignity. Jerome here for Chiun hath Remphan; confer Acts 7:43 , and the commentators thereon. Aben Ezra thinks that by Chiun is meant the planet Saturn, called Chivan in the Arabic. And other Hebrews by the star of your god (that is, the star which is your god), understand Mercury.
Amo 5:27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name [is] The God of hosts.
Ver. 27. Therefore will cause you ] Idolatry is a land desolating sin.
Beyond Damascus ] And not only so, but also beyond Babylon, Acts 7:43 , by the way of Damascus, by Tiglathpileser, sent for by Ahaz for that purpose, Isaiah 8:4 2 Kings 15:29 .
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Amos 5". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany