Amos 6


‘Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! Go to Kalneh and look at it; go from there to great Hamath, and then go down to Gath in Philistia. Are they better off than your two kingdoms? Is their land larger than yours? You put off the day of disaster and bring near a reign of terror. You lie on beds adorned with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end.’ Amos 6:1-7

Woe To The Complacent

This is another message of woe directed to the notable men of Zion and Samaria. It’s a message to the leading men of both Israel and Judah, Amos 2:4-5 / Amos 3:1 / Amos 5:1 / Amos 5:5, although the message is primarily for Israel. This prophecy was made during the reign of Jeroboam II, it was a time of great prosperity in the Northern Kingdom.

They had become complacent in Zion and they felt secure in Samaria. Because of their relationship to God they were in this privileged position, Psalms 127:1.

He points out that Israel is better than these foreign countries, namely, Kalneh, that is Babylon, Hamath, that is, Syria and Gath, which is Philistine, but they must prove themselves to be better.

They cannot just rely on this relationship that they have with God. The leaders of Israel think that this judgment day is far away, but they are labouring under a false impression. Their actions are leading to lawlessness.

Of the last six kings of Israel, only one died naturally. The other five were all murdered, showing what an evil, vicious nation they were becoming.

Their forgetfu1ness of God is represented by their way of living. Their beds of ivory, they lounge on couches, they were eating fattened calves, anointed themselves with the finest of oils, strummed on their harps and drunk bowls of wine, Daniel 5:1-25. They didn’t care that all around them Israel was being destroyed and falling into decay.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The word which Amos alone uses in this place describes probably a hurried flow of unmeaning, unconsidered words, in which the rhythm of words and music was everything, the sense, nothing.’

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘I believe that David was not authorized by the Lord to introduce that multitude of musical instruments into the divine worship of which we read and I am satisfied that his conduct in this respect is most solemnly reprehended by this prophet and I further believe that the use of such instruments of music in the Christian Church is without the sanction and against the will of God.’

The LORD Abhors The Pride Of Israel

‘The Sovereign LORD has sworn by himself—the LORD God Almighty declares: “I abhor the pride of Jacob and detest his fortresses; I will deliver up the city and everything in it.” If ten people are left in one house, they too will die. And if the relative who comes to carry the bodies out of the house to burn them asks anyone who might be hiding there, “Is anyone else with you?” and he says, “No,” then he will go on to say, “Hush! We must not mention the name of the LORD.” For the LORD has given the command, and he will smash the great house into pieces and the small house into bits. Do horses run on the rocky crags? Does one plow the sea with oxen? But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness—you who rejoice in the conquest of Lo Debar and say, “Did we not take Karnaim by our own strength?” For the LORD God Almighty declares, “I will stir up a nation against you, Israel, that will oppress you all the way from Lebo Hamath to the valley of the Arabah.” Amos 6:8-14

Here we read the announcement of punishment on these leaders. They will be the first to go into exile. Because they took pride in their wealth, God was about to take their wealth away.

God rejects the nation on an oath, He says, ‘He will deliver up the city and everything in it’. The city is probably Samaria.  Notice the conditions within the city, ‘if ten men are in a house they will die. If the relative who is to burn the bodies finds someone hiding there he will say, ‘Hush! We must not mention the name of the Lord.’

There are two possible interpretations given for this statement.

1. The name of the Lord mustn’t be mentioned in case God’s attention is drawn to him and he is discovered and killed.

2. The name of the Lord is not to be mentioned because of the despair.

Out of the despair of what is happening to them they want to forget God. Perhaps, despair was caused because they realised they had turned from God, that they had been in the wrong, and they couldn’t face him.

But God’s judgment embraces the whole of the city, whether it be the great house or the small house, the rich or the poor, they will be smashed into pieces. They will be broken down.

The N.I.V. seems to differ from other versions here, it suggests that horses and oxen run or plough over ‘rocky crags’. Other versions talk about oxen ploughing over the sea, and oceans. Nevertheless, both are impossibilities.

The verse tells us that these leading men can’t rely on their own strength. Do horses run on rocks? Does one plough the sea with oxen? These are against common sense and nature. But Israel was acting against common sense.

Schultz, in his commentary, says the following.

‘There is a spiritual and moral order in the universe that is just as impossible to ignore as the natural order. It is as senseless to pervert justice as it is to expect horses to run on the rocks, or for oxen to plow on rock.’

They should not turn justice into poison nor the fruit of righteousness into bitterness. Some translations use the words, ‘gall and ‘wormwood’, in other words, what they thought was justice was actually the bitterness of gall.

They were trusting in their strength. Jeroboam II had enlarged their borders and increased their prosperity, 2 Kings 14:25. Lo Debar, which means ‘nothing’, and Karnaim, which means ‘horn’, were probably scenes of victory, these were towns east of the Jordan that were taken by Jeroboam II. They rejoiced in their own power, strength and victory.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The kingdom of Israel was destroyed in the year 722 by Sargon in the first month of his reign when Samaria was taken after a siege which was begun by his predecessor, Shalmaneser IV, and had lasted three years.’

Notice the entire limits of Israel, from her northern and southern borders.  The Assyrians would overwhelm them from the northern borders of Israel, that is, Lebo Hamath, to the southern borders near the Dead Sea. They will be oppressed throughout all of their territories. So all of their proud achievements are going to be taken away.

Go To Amos 7