Amos 1 & Psalm 144

Amos

Chapter 1

The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.

    And he said:

    “The LORD roars from Zion
        and utters his voice from Jerusalem;
    the pastures of the shepherds mourn,
        and the top of Carmel withers.”
    
    
        Thus says the LORD:

    “For three transgressions of Damascus,
        and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
    because they have threshed Gilead
        with threshing sledges of iron.
    So I will send a fire upon the house of Hazael,
        and it shall devour the strongholds of Ben-hadad.
    I will break the gate-bar of Damascus,
        and cut off the inhabitants from the Valley of Aven,
    and him who holds the scepter from Beth-eden;
        and the people of Syria shall go into exile to Kir,”
                                                                                                                                                                    says the LORD.
    
    
        Thus says the LORD:

    “For three transgressions of Gaza,
        and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
    because they carried into exile a whole people
        to deliver them up to Edom.
    So I will send a fire upon the wall of Gaza,
        and it shall devour her strongholds.
    I will cut off the inhabitants from Ashdod,
        and him who holds the scepter from Ashkelon;
    I will turn my hand against Ekron,
        and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish,”
                                                                                                                                                                    says the Lord GOD.
    
    
        Thus says the LORD:

    “For three transgressions of Tyre,
        and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
    because they delivered up a whole people to Edom,
        and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood.
    So I will send a fire upon the wall of Tyre,
        and it shall devour her strongholds.”
    
    
        Thus says the LORD:

    “For three transgressions of Edom,
        and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
    because he pursued his brother with the sword
        and cast off all pity,
    and his anger tore perpetually,
        and he kept his wrath forever.
    So I will send a fire upon Teman,
        and it shall devour the strongholds of Bozrah.”
    
    
        Thus says the LORD:

    “For three transgressions of the Ammonites,
        and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
    because they have ripped open pregnant women in Gilead,
        that they might enlarge their border.
    So I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah,
        and it shall devour her strongholds,
    with shouting on the day of battle,
        with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind;
    and their king shall go into exile,
        he and his princes together,”
                                                                                                                                                                    says the LORD.

(Amos 1 ESV)


Psalm

Chapter 144

Of David.

    Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
        who trains my hands for war,
        and my fingers for battle;
    he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
        my stronghold and my deliverer,
    my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
        who subdues peoples under me.
    
    
    O LORD, what is man that you regard him,
        or the son of man that you think of him?
    Man is like a breath;
        his days are like a passing shadow.
    
    
    Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down!
        Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
    Flash forth the lightning and scatter them;
        send out your arrows and rout them!
    Stretch out your hand from on high;
        rescue me and deliver me from the many waters,
        from the hand of foreigners,
    whose mouths speak lies
        and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
    
    
    I will sing a new song to you, O God;
        upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
    who gives victory to kings,
        who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword.
    Rescue me and deliver me
        from the hand of foreigners,
    whose mouths speak lies
        and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
    
    
    May our sons in their youth
        be like plants full grown,
    our daughters like corner pillars
        cut for the structure of a palace;
    may our granaries be full,
        providing all kinds of produce;
    may our sheep bring forth thousands
        and ten thousands in our fields;
    may our cattle be heavy with young,
        suffering no mishap or failure in bearing;
    may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
    Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall!
        Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!

(Psalm 144 ESV)

For the Love of God

D.A. Carson

 

THE PROPHECY OF AMOS CALLS the people of God back to the behavior stipulated by the covenant. But since so much of Israel’s misbehavior is bound up with social injustice, not exclusively individualistic sins, this prophecy includes some of the most incisive denunciation of social injustice found anywhere.

Some preliminary reflections on Amos 1:

(1) Unlike Ezekiel, who was a trained priest before he became a prophet, and unlike Isaiah and Jeremiah, who seem to have been prophets all their lives, and unlike Daniel, whose work was in the “secular” arena but whose training was first- class, Amos was neither a professional religious leader nor a scholar. He was a shepherd (1:1) — as Elisha was a farmer and our Lord was a carpenter.

(2) Unlike the book of Joel, this book specifies the reigns under which Amos preached: under Uzziah king of Judah and Jeroboam II of Israel (1:1). We do not know the date of the earthquake to which Amos alludes, but the two kings in question enjoyed long reigns in the first half of the eighth century B.C., the former from about 790 to 740 B.C., the latter from about 793 to 753 (including co-regencies with their respective fathers). During that time Assyria, the regional power, was not expansionist, so the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel were not oppressed from the outside, and grew politically and militarily strong. (Assyria did not become a threat until after 745, when Tiglath-Pileser III ascended the throne.)

(3) Amos was a missionary, i.e., a cross-cultural preacher of the word of God. He was a shepherd from Tekoa, in Judah, but his ministry took place in Israel. During that time, Jeroboam II, an able man, extended the boundaries as far as Solomon had done. But despite all the prosperity and expansionism, the wealth settled into the hands of a very few. Combined with moral decay and continuing idolatry, this meant that the nation was heading for destruction — and apart from Amos, very few detected the dangers.

(4) Regal king that he is, the Lord “roars” like a lion from Zion, threatening judgment (1:2). His forbearance is running out. That is why one popular Amos commentator (J. Alec Motyer) titles his book The Day of the Lion, and another (Roy Clements) When God’s Patience Runs Out.

(5) The formula “For three sins of X, even for four” (1:3, 6, 9, 11, 12) is a poetic way in Hebrew of specifying four sins. In Amos 1, the sins are the sins of Israel’s neighbors: the God who chastens his own covenantal people is nevertheless Judge of all the earth — a truth both somber and encouraging.