Amos was a herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit. His words are rugged, but sometimes he rises to sublimity. His expressions are somewhat dark, and not readily to be understood; but when we learn the meaning of them, we perceive that they are full of deep, earnest, solemn warning and instruction.
Amos 6:1. Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!
It was a time of great sin, and also of great judgment, yet there were some in Zion who were quite at ease under all that was happening. No sense of sin grieved them, no thought of coming judgment alarmed them. What did they care if the nation went to rack and ruin? What did it signify to them that God was angry with his people? They were atheists; or, at least, they acted as if they were. Whatever might happen, they would run the risk of it. “Woe,” says God, to all such people as these; and when the Lord says “Woe” to anyone, it is indeed woe, for he never speaks thus without cause.
Amos 6:2. Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border?
The Lord points to other cities which had been destroyed, — to Calneh, and Hamath, and Gath, which he had smitten because of the sin of the people who had lived there; and he says, “Ye that dwell at Jerusalem, and ye that live at Samaria, do not imagine that ye will escape the consequences of your sin. I was able to reach the inhabitants of these proud cities, despite their strong fortifications and their powerful armies; and I can reach you also.” So, when we look back upon the judgments of God upon guilty men, we may conclude that no sinner has any right to think that he shall escape. The proudest and mightiest have been brought down by God and so will men, who dare to resist the Most High. Continue to be humble, even to the world’s end.
Amos 6:3. Ye that put far away the evil day, —
Ye who say, “There is time enough yet. Let us see a little more of life; why need we be in a hurry to seek salvation?” “Ye that put far away the evil day,” —
Amos 6:3. And cause the seat of violence to come near;
For, when men try to postpone thoughts about “the judgment” which is to follow “after death,” they are generally the more eager to indulge in sin. They say, “There is time enough yet,” because they want a longer period to get greater indulgence in sinful ways. The Lord says “Woe” to all such people as these.
Amos 6:4. That lie upon beds of ivory,
They were men of wealth, who spent their money upon all manner of luxuries while the poor of the land were perishing through want.
Amos 6:4. And stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;
It was, as I have said, a time of danger, when war was at the gates; but the people were so careless that they lived as if peace were established for ever, and the enemy could never touch them. Their expenditure was at a high rate for self-indulgence, and for that only.
Amos 6:5. That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instrument of music, like David;
But not for the same purpose as David played and sang; his instruments of music were used for spiritual solace and the worship of God; but these people set their wits to work to find out how their music might inflame their lusts, and be a vehicle for the expression of their lascivious desires.
Amos 6:6. That drink wine in bowls,
For seldom can a careless man crown the edifice of his sin without indulging in drunkenness; he must have the sensual delight that he finds in “the flowing bowl.”
Amos 6:6. And anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
It is not wrong for a person, to whom God has given much of the good things of this life, to enjoy them fitly and reasonably. The sin of these people consisted in the fact that, when others were afflicted, they took that opportunity to indulge themselves in all the delights of the flesh; and when God’s rod was being used for chastisement, they went on with their sinful mirth to show how little they cared about it. Probably I am addressing some who have, at this very moment, a sore sickness in the house; or it may be that a beloved wife is scarcely cold in her grave, or a dear child has only just sobbed itself into its death-sleep; yet the survivors are running after amusements, and pleasures, and follies, more wildly than ever, as if to hush the voice of conscience, and to forget the strokes of God’s rod. Oh, that this very solemn chapter might convey a warning message to them!
Amos 6:7. Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.
Whenever God does come forth to execute judgment upon the ungodly, he will first pick out those who have defied him the most. Those who have the proudest spirit and the hardest heart shall be the first to feel the strokes of his rod.
Amos 6:8. The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.
The next chapter shows that, even when God was very angry with the wicked, there was still wonderful power in prayer.