|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:6-13 See the folly of carnal hearts; they wander from one creature to another, seeking for something to satisfy, and labour for that which satisfies not; yet, after all, they will not incline their ear to Him in whom they might find all they can want. Preaching the gospel is as rain, and every thing withers where this rain is wanting. It were well if people were as wise for their souls as they are for their bodies; and, when they have not this rain near, would go and seek it where it is to be had. As the Israelites persisted in rebellion and idolatry, the Lord was coming against them as an adversary. Ere long, we must meet our God in judgment; but we shall not be able to stand before him, if he tries us according to our doings. If we would prepare to meet our God with comfort, at the awful period of his coming, we must now meet him in Christ Jesus, the eternal Son of the Father, who came to save lost sinners. We must seek him while he is to be found.
Verse 6. - In this and the five following verses God sets forth instances of the judgments which he had sent at various times to correct Israel; viz. famine, drought, blight, pestilence, earthquake; but all had been in vain. Five times recurs the sad refrain, "Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord." God's unwearied love had not conquered their rebellion. Cleanness of teeth; Septuagint, γομφιασμὸν ὀδόντων, "dulness of teeth;" Vulgate, stuporem dentium. It is not "toothache" that is meant, but famine, as is seen by the parallel term, want of bread; as Corn. a Lapide says, "Cum enim in fame et penuria dentes non habent quod mordeant et mandant, innocentes sunt et mundi." This is the first chastisement mentioned. It was threatened in the Law as a consequence of backsliding (see Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28:48, 57). The famines to which Amos alludes are not recorded. Plainly they were not fortuitous, but were providential inflictions, in accordance with previous warnings Yet have ye not returned unto me. Pusey notes that the words imply, not that they returned not at all, but that they did after a fashion return, but not so as to reach God, their repentance being a half-repentance and their worship a half-worship, and therefore unacceptable.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities,.... Meaning a famine, having no food to foul them with, or to stick in them. This was not the famine in Samaria, 2 Kings 6:25; for that was only in that city, and for a short time, while besieged; whereas this was in all the cities in Israel; rather therefore it designs the famine predicted by Elisha, which should be upon the land for seven years, 2 Kings 8:1;
and want of bread in all your places: this is the same with the former clause, and explains it, and still makes the famine more general, not only in their cities, but in all their places of abode, their towns and villages:
yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord; this judgment had no influence upon them, to bring them to a sense of their evils, particularly their idolatry, and to repentance them, and to reclaim them from them, and return them to the Lord, and to his worship, as the Targum paraphrases it.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6-11. Jehovah details His several chastisements inflicted with a view to reclaiming them: but adds to each the same sad result, "yet have ye not returned unto Me" (Isa 9:13; Jer 5:3; Ho 7:10); the monotonous repetition of the same burden marking their pitiable obstinacy.
cleanness of teeth—explained by the parallel, "want of bread." The famine alluded to is that mentioned in 2Ki 8:1 [Grotius]. Where there is no food to masticate, the teeth are free from uncleanness, but it is the cleanness of want. Compare Pr 14:4, "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean." So spiritually, where all is outwardly smooth and clean, it is often because there is no solid religion. Better fighting and fears with real piety, than peace and respectable decorum without spiritual life.
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