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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Amos 9

 

 

Verses 1-15

Amos 9:1. I saw the Lord standing upon the altar in Jerusalem, as in Isaiah 6:1, and Ezekiel 9:3. Here the prophet heard the awful words, that God would hunt the idolaters from all their hiding places. The sword of the Assyrians pursued them down to Egypt.

Amos 9:2. Though they dig into hell; the deep places of the earth, where they often hid themselves from the devouring sword. 1 Samuel 14:11.

Amos 9:3. Though they hide in the woods and caves of Carmel, the Chaldeans and the Assyrians shall hunt them out.

Though they be hid in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command הנחשׁ ha-nachish, the serpent, and he shall bite them. This is rendered by the LXX, dragons, and is often understood of the larger species of serpents: but here, I think, such rendering to be erroneous. The ancients were deficient in their acquaintance with natural history. The dragon or crocodile, and leviathan or whale, are quite distinct from the nachish, which inhabits the bottom of the sea. The sea-serpent, though unknown to the elder critics, was known to Amos the prophet; and since his time it has often been seen. It has been repeatedly observed on the Norwegian coast. About the year 1825, the fisher-men near the Delaware, in the United States, had their nets destroyed by two sea-serpents; and being encouraged by the people on shore, they went out again with proper hooks and chains, and succeeded in taking one of the two, nearly fifty feet in length, and about five feet in circumference. But as no scientific description has reached us, we must suspend our belief.

On this subject, the terrific lines of Virgil seem in perfect unison with the ideas of the prophet.

Ecce autem gemini à Tenedo tranquilla per alta (Horresco referens) immensis orbibus angues Incumbunt pelago, pariterque ad litora tendunt: Pectora quorum inter fluctus arrecta, jubæque Sanguineæ exuperant undas; pars cætera pontum Ponè legit, sinuatque immensa volumine terga. Fit sonitus spumante salo: jamque arva tenebant, Ardentesque oculos suffecti sanguine et igni, Sibila lambebant linguis vibrantibus ora. ÆNEID. 2:203.

When, dreadful to behold, from sea we spied Two serpents, ranked abreast, the seas divide, And smoothly sweep along the swelling tide, Their flaming crests above the waves they show; Their bellies seem to burn the seas below:

Their speckled tails advance to steer their course, And on the sounding shores their billows force. And now the strand, and now the plain, they held; Their ardent eyes with blood streaks are filled; Their nimble tongues they brandished as they came, And licked their hissing jaws that sputtered flame.

Amos 9:7. Are ye not as children of Ethiopia unto me? Black in moral character as the skin of the Ethiopians. So in Ezekiel 16:3 : “Thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite.” The Hebrew claims of divine paternity were lost by idolatry.

Amos 9:11. I will raise up the tabernacle of David—and will build it as in the days of old. Chrysostom and other ancient fathers understood this of our Lord’s resurrection, or the restoration of his fleshly tabernacle, to ascend and reign in his spiritual kingdom. But it seems rather to refer to the conversion of the jews, and their restoration to the promised land, the heritage of their fathers, where the Lord will deliver them from surrounding foes, and once more pitch his tabernacle among them.

An apostle however applies this prophecy, in the first instance, to the rebuilding of the spiritual temple by the conversion of the gentiles, and their incorporation with the believing seed of Abraham, so as to become a habitation of God through the Spirit. Acts 15:16-17. The exaltation of Christ was to be distinguished by this great event, and much of the wisdom of God may be seen in it; it was like opening the prison doors on the day of a public coronation, that encreasing multitudes might participate in the general joy. The conversion of the gentiles after the day of pentecost afforded a specimen of the spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom; and their release from the bonds of heathen darkness would show that it was to be a reign of mercy. Before the coming of Christ the blessings of salvation were chiefly confined to the jews; now they are conferred on the poor benighted gentiles, and are to be extended to all the ends of the earth. At the same time we are here reminded that all this mercy is contained in a promise of honour and glory to Christ, in raising up the tabernacle of David which had fallen down, and building it again as in the days of old. All the mercy promised to sinful men is promised in reward of Christ’s obedience; this is God’s way of showing mercy, and it must be ours in seeking it. Let us pray that the tabernacle of David may be built up, and still more extensively: in the success of Christ’s cause we shall find our own spiritual prosperity.

REFLECTIONS.

“We see how impossible it is for sinners to escape the judgments of God. We have here a noble and solemn description of his universal presence and irresistible power, and of his determination to punish all his enemies. How dreadful then is the case of those, who have the eyes of God against them for evil. There is no place to which they can escape from his notice, or where they can shun his avenging hand. Stand therefore in awe, and sin not.

We are here taught God’s esteem for his people, and the care which he takes of them. Though he may sift them among all nations, and bring distressing judgments upon them, he will not permit the least grain to fall to the earth; not one of his faithful servants shall be lost. He will defend them in the day of evil, or if they suffer with others, they shall not be destroyed. His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor; but the precious grain shall all be preserved.

Let us rejoice in the fulfilling of this prophecy. God’s name is called upon by the heathen, the kingdom of Christ is established among them; and we in this nation have been led to seek the Lord, and are become a part of his people. There is still hope therefore, concerning the restoration and the conversion of the jews. Let it be our prayer that God would bring them into his church and favour again, and give his Son the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Amos 9:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/amos-9.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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