Amos 3 & Psalm 146-147


Chapter 3

Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt:

    “You only have I known
        of all the families of the earth;
    therefore I will punish you
        for all your iniquities.
    “Do two walk together,
        unless they have agreed to meet?
    Does a lion roar in the forest,
        when he has no prey?
    Does a young lion cry out from his den,
        if he has taken nothing?
    Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth,
        when there is no trap for it?
    Does a snare spring up from the ground,
        when it has taken nothing?
    Is a trumpet blown in a city,
        and the people are not afraid?
    Does disaster come to a city,
        unless the LORD has done it?
    “For the Lord GOD does nothing
        without revealing his secret
        to his servants the prophets.
    The lion has roared;
        who will not fear?
    The Lord GOD has spoken;
        who can but prophesy?”
    Proclaim to the strongholds in Ashdod
        and to the strongholds in the land of Egypt,
    and say, “Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria,
        and see the great tumults within her,
        and the oppressed in her midst.”
    “They do not know how to do right,” declares the LORD,
        “those who store up violence and robbery in their strongholds.”
        Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:

    “An adversary shall surround the land
        and bring down your defenses from you,
        and your strongholds shall be plundered.”
        Thus says the LORD: “As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of Israel who dwell in Samaria be rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed.

    “Hear, and testify against the house of Jacob,”
        declares the Lord GOD, the God of hosts,
    “that on the day I punish Israel for his transgressions,
        I will punish the altars of Bethel,
    and the horns of the altar shall be cut off
        and fall to the ground.
    I will strike the winter house along with the summer house,
        and the houses of ivory shall perish,
    and the great houses shall come to an end,”
                                                                                                                                                                    declares the LORD.

(Amos 3 ESV)


Chapter 146

    Praise the LORD!
    Praise the LORD, O my soul!
    I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
        I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
    Put not your trust in princes,
        in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
    When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
        on that very day his plans perish.
    Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
        whose hope is in the LORD his God,
    who made heaven and earth,
        the sea, and all that is in them,
    who keeps faith forever;
        who executes justice for the oppressed,
        who gives food to the hungry.
    The LORD sets the prisoners free;
        the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
    The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
        the LORD loves the righteous.
    The LORD watches over the sojourners;
        he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
        but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
    The LORD will reign forever,
        your God, O Zion, to all generations.
    Praise the LORD!

(Psalm 146 ESV)


Chapter 147

    Praise the LORD!
    For it is good to sing praises to our God;
        for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
    The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
        he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
    He heals the brokenhearted
        and binds up their wounds.
    He determines the number of the stars;
        he gives to all of them their names.
    Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
        his understanding is beyond measure.
    The LORD lifts up the humble;
        he casts the wicked to the ground.
    Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
        make melody to our God on the lyre!
    He covers the heavens with clouds;
        he prepares rain for the earth;
        he makes grass grow on the hills.
    He gives to the beasts their food,
        and to the young ravens that cry.
    His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
        nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
    but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
        in those who hope in his steadfast love.
    Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
        Praise your God, O Zion!
    For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
        he blesses your children within you.
    He makes peace in your borders;
        he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
    He sends out his command to the earth;
        his word runs swiftly.
    He gives snow like wool;
        he scatters frost like ashes.
    He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
        who can stand before his cold?
    He sends out his word, and melts them;
        he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
    He declares his word to Jacob,
        his statutes and rules to Israel.
    He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
        they do not know his rules.
    Praise the LORD!

(Psalm 147 ESV)

For the Love of God

D.A. Carson


HERE I REFLECT ON TWO themes from Amos 3:

(1) “You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins” (3:2). The basic premise is simple: privilege brings responsibility. But the matter runs deeper, along at least two lines. (a) The peculiar privilege here is being chosen to know God, being known by him — and all knowledge of this God entails proximity to holiness. Small wonder, then, that this privilege brings punishment for sins. (b) But this is in any case itself a privilege. Nurtured sin eventually brings condemnation and destruction; sin punished may bring repentance and contrition, which the Lord seeks. Certainly this text excludes the view that being chosen by God means one is exempt from obedience and faithfulness to him, or that God is a big sugar daddy in the sky. As Motyer has put it: “Special privileges, special obligations; special grace, special holiness; special revelation, special scrutiny; special love, special responsiveness . . . the church of God cannot ever escape the perils of its uniqueness.”

(2) The sequence of rhetorical questions in verses 3-5 may initially seem irrel- evant to Western eyes. But doubtless they were Amos’s way of getting his message across to hearers who were hostile both to him and to his message. In a culture that loved riddles and proverbs, his questions drew them into his thought before they realized what was up. The point becomes clearer with each new question: events have causes. If people meet and walk together, it is because they have agreed to do so. If a lion roars, it is because it has killed its prey. If a trap is sprung, it is because some bird or animal has triggered it. If a warning trumpet sounds, it is because a dangerous enemy has been sighted. Events have causes. So Amos drives home two points. (a) If disaster strikes a city, God must be behind it (3:6). Of course, there may be many secondary causes, but ultimately God himself is behind it. Amos does not believe in coincidence, bad luck, or a finite God who slips up now and then. He believes in providence — and believing in providence means believing that in disasters God is speaking the language of warning or judgment. (b) The warnings God gives correspond with real dangers. The trumpet blows to warn of a real enemy. God may provide gracious warning through his servants the prophets (3:7) — and such warnings are not hot air, mere religious mouthings, but flags that correspond with imminent danger. So repent: “The lion has roared — who will not fear?” And don’t shoot the messenger: “The Sovereign LORD has spoken — who can but prophesy?” (3:8).