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Complacent Self-Indulgence Will Be Punished


Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,

and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,

the notables of the first of the nations,

to whom the house of Israel resorts!


Cross over to Calneh, and see;

from there go to Hamath the great;

then go down to Gath of the Philistines.

Are you better than these kingdoms?

Or is your territory greater than their territory,


O you that put far away the evil day,

and bring near a reign of violence?



Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,

and lounge on their couches,

and eat lambs from the flock,

and calves from the stall;


who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,

and like David improvise on instruments of music;


who drink wine from bowls,

and anoint themselves with the finest oils,

but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!


Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile,

and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.


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Am 6:1-14. Denunciation of Both the Sister Nations (Especially Their Nobles) For Wanton SecurityZion, as Well as Samaria: Threat of the Exile: Ruin of Their Palaces and Slaughter of the People: Their Perverse Injustice.

1. named chief of the nations—that is, you nobles, so eminent in influence, that your names are celebrated among the chief nations [Ludovicus De Dieu]. Hebrew, "Men designated by name among the first-fruits of the nations," that is, men of note in Israel, the people chosen by God as first of the nations (Ex 19:5; compare Nu 24:20) [Piscator].

to whom … Israel came—that is, the princes to whom the Israelites used to repair for the decision of controversies, recognizing their authority [Maurer]. I prefer to refer "which" to the antecedent "Zion" and "Samaria"; these were esteemed "chief" strongholds among the heathen nations "to whom … Israel came" when it entered Canaan; Am 6:2 accords with this.

2. Calneh—on the east bank of the Tigris. Once powerful, but recently subjugated by Assyria (Isa 10:9; about 794 B.C.).

Hameth—subjugated by Jeroboam II (2Ki 14:25). Also by Assyria subsequently (2Ki 18:34). Compare Am 6:14.

Gath—subjugated by Uzziah (2Ch 26:6).

be they better—no. Their so recent subjugation renders it needless for Me to tell you they are not. And yet they once were; still they could not defend themselves against the enemy. How vain, then, your secure confidence in the strength of Mounts Zion and Samaria! He takes cities respectively east, north, south, and west of Israel (compare Na 3:8).

3. Ye persuade yourselves that "the evil day" foretold by the prophets is "far off," though they declare it near (Eze 12:22, 27). Ye in your imagination put it far off, and therefore bring near violent oppression, suffering it to sit enthroned, as it were, among you (Ps 94:20). The notion of judgment being far off has always been an incentive to the sinner's recklessness of living (Ec 8:12, 13; Mt 24:48). Yet that very recklessness brings near the evil day which he puts far off. "Ye bring on fever by your intemperance, and yet would put it far off" [Calvin].

4. (See Am 2:8).

beds of ivory—that is, adorned, or inlaid, with ivory (Am 3:15).

stretch themselves—in luxurious self-indulgence.

lambs out of the flock—picked out as the choicest, for their owners' selfish gratification.

5. chant—literally, "mark distinct sounds and tones."

viol—the lyre, or lute.

invent … instruments … like David—They fancy they equal David in musical skill (1Ch 23:5; Ne 12:36). They defend their luxurious passion for music by his example: forgetting that he pursued this study when at peace and free from danger, and that for the praise of God; but they pursue for their own self-gratification, and that when God is angry and ruin is imminent.

6. drink … in bowls—in the large vessels or basins in which wine was mixed; not satisfied with the smaller cups from which it was ordinarily drunk, after having been poured from the large mixer.

chief ointments—that is, the most costly: not for health or cleanliness, but wanton luxury.

not grieved for the affliction of Joseph—literally, "the breach," that is, the national wound or calamity (Ps 60:2; Eze 34:4) of the house of Joseph (Am 5:6); resembling in this the heartlessness of their forefathers, the sons of Jacob, towards Joseph, "eating bread" while their brother lay in the pit, and then selling him to Ishmaelites.

7. Therefore … shall they go captive with the first—As they were first among the people in rank (Am 6:1), and anointed themselves "with the chief ointments" (Am 6:6), so shall they be among the foremost in going into captivity.

banquet—literally, the "merry-making shout of revellers"; from an Arabic root, "to cry out." In the Hebrew, marzeach; here, there is an allusion to mizraqu, "bowls" (Am 6:6).

them that stretched themselves—on luxurious couches (Am 6:4).