Amos 7:15
And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.
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(15) Followed the flock.—There is no hint of any lack of education or refinement (see Introduction) through the exclusion of any special aid derived from the training of earlier prophets. In this case God’s inward call had been more than sufficient.

7:10-17 It is no new thing for the accusers of the brethren, to misrepresent them as enemies to the king and kingdom, as traitors to their prince, and troublers of the land, when they are the best friends to both. Those who make gain their godliness, and are governed by the hopes of wealth and preferment, are ready to think these the most powerful motives with others also. But those who have a warrant from God, like Amos, ought not to fear the face of man. If God, that sent him, had not strengthened him, he could not thus have set his face as a flint. The Lord often chooses the weak and foolish things of the world to confound the wise and mighty. But no fervent prayers, or self-denying labours, can bring proud sinners to bear faithful reproofs and warnings. And all who oppose or despise the Divine word, must expect fatal effects to their souls, unless they repent.I was no prophet - The order of the words is emphatic. "No prophet I, and no prophet's son I, for a herdsman I, and dresser of sycamores." It may be, Amos would meet, for the people's sake, Amaziah's taunt. He had a living, simple indeed, yet that of the prophets was as simple. But chiefly he tells them of the unusual character of his mission. He did not belong to the order of the prophets, nor had he been educated in the schools of the prophets, nor had he any human training. He was thinking of nothing less; he was doing the works of his calling, until "God took him from following the flock," and gave him his commission. Rup.: "He promises humbly what he had been, what he had been made, not by merits, but by grace, that he had not assumed the prophetic office by hereditary right, nor had he begun to prophesy out of his own mind, but, being under the necessity of obeying, he had fulfilled the grace and the command of God who inspired and sent Him." Twice he repeats, "The Lord took me; the Lord said unto me;" inculcating that, what Amaziah forbade, God bade. All was of God. "He" had but obeyed. Jerome: "As then the Apostles, when the Scribes and Pharisees forbade them to teach in the Name of Jesus, answered, 'We must obey God rather than man' Acts 5:29, so Amos, when forbidden by the idol-priests to prophesy, not only prophesies, shewing that he feared God bidding, more than their forbidding, but he boldly and freely denounces the punishment of him who endeavored to forbid and hinder the word of God." Rup.: "heaven thundered and commanded him to prophesy; the frog croaked in answer out of his marsh, 'prophesy no more. '" 15. took me as I followed the flock—So David was taken (2Sa 7:8; Ps 78:70, 71). Messiah is the antitypical Shepherd (Ps 23:1-6; Joh 10:1-18).

unto my people—"against" [Maurer]; so Am 7:16. Jehovah claims them still as His by right, though slighting His authority. God would recover them to His service by the prophet's ministry.

The Lord, the great and jealous God, whom you oppose by idols, took me; by an extraordinary power of his Spirit took me off from my old, mean, and private employment and recess, and I could not withstand him.

As I followed the flock; a description of a shepherd’s employment.

The Lord said unto me; commanded, whether by voice from heaven. or extraordinary irradiation of his mind, or impulse of the Divine prophetic Spirit, comes all to one, his authority is Divine.

Go out of Judah.

Prophesy; as a prophet instruct, threaten, promise, invite. and foretell.

My people Israel; the ten tribes, which with like civility are called by Amos God’s people as he is called seer. And the Lord took me as I followed the flock,.... Or "from behind" it (u); a description of a shepherd, such an one Amos was, and in this employ when the Lord called him, and took him to be a prophet; he did not seek after it, nor did he take this honour to himself; by which it appears that his mission was divine, and that he did not enter on this work with lucrative views: thus God took David in a like state of life, and made him king of Israel; and Elisha from the plough, and made him a prophet: and Christ several of his disciples from being fishermen, and made them fishers of men, or ministers of the word; and so their call appeared more clear and manifest;

and the Lord said unto me; in a vision or dream by night; or by an articulate voice he heard; or by an impulse upon his spirit, which comes from the Spirit of God:

go, prophesy unto my people Israel; for so they were by profession, and notwithstanding their apostasy; as yet they were not tallied "Loammi", Hosea 1:9; to these the prophet was bid to go out of the land of Judea, where he was a herdsman, and prophesy in the name of the Lord to them; wherefore what he did was in obedience to the command of God, and he did but his duty; and what he in this verse and Amos 7:14 declares, is a sufficient vindication of himself, his character, and conduct; and having done this, he has something to say to the priest, as follows.

(u) "de post pecus", Montanus; "de post gregem", Vatablus; "a post gregem", Liveleus.

And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.
15. It was while he was engaged in the ordinary occupations of his rustic life, that he became conscious of a call, which he could not but obey (cf. Amos 3:8), to become the prophet of Jehovah’s people, Israel.

from following the flock] Cf. (of David) 2 Samuel 7:8; Psalm 78:71.Verse 15. - As I followed; literally, from after from behind, as in the call of David (2 Samuel 7:8; Psalm 78:70), The Divine call came to him suddenly and imperatively, and he must needs obey it. He, therefore, could not follow Amaziah's counsel. The promise runs as follows. Joel 2:19. "Behold, I send you the corn, and the new wine, and the oil, that ye may become satisfied therewith; and will no more make you a reproach among the nations. Joel 2:20. And I will remove the northern one far away from you, and drive him into the land of drought and desert; its van into the front sea, and its rear into the hinder sea: and its stink will ascend, and its corruption ascend, for it has done great things." The Lord promises, first of all, a compensation for the injury done by the devastation, and then the destruction of the devastation itself, so that it may do no further damage. Joel 2:19 stands related to Joel 1:11. Shâlach, to send: the corn is said to be sent instead of given (Hosea 2:10), because God sends the rain which causes the corn to grow. Israel shall no longer be a reproach among the nations, "as a poor people, whose God is unable to assist it, or has evidently forsaken it" (Ros.). Marck and Schmieder have already observed that this promise is related to the prayer, that He would not give up His inheritance to the reproach of the scoffings of the heathen (Joel 1:17 : see the comm. on this verse). הצּפוני, the northern one, as an epithet applied to the swarm of locusts, furnishes no decisive argument in favour of the allegorical interpretation of the plague of locusts. For even if locusts generally come to Palestine from the south, out of the Arabian desert, the remark out of the Arabian desert, the remark made by Jerome, to the effect that "the swarms of locusts are more generally brought by the south wind than by the north," shows that the rule is not without its exceptions. "Locusts come and go with all winds" (Oedmann, ii. p. 97). In Arabia, Niebuhr (Beschreib. p. 169) saw swarms of locusts come from south, west, north, and east. Their home is not confined to the desert of Arabia, but they are found in all the sandy deserts, which form the southern boundaries of the lands that were, and to some extent still are, the seat of cultivation, viz., in the Sahara, the Libyan desert, Arabia, and Irak (Credner, p. 285); and Niebuhr (l.c.) saw a large tract of land, on the road from Mosul to Nisibis, completely covered with young locusts. They are also met with in the Syrian desert, from which swarms could easily be driven to Palestine by a north-east wind, without having to fly across the mountains of Lebanon. Such a swarm as this might be called the tsephōnı̄, i.e., the northern one, or northerner, even if the north was not its true home. For it cannot be philologically proved that tsephōnı̄ can only denote one whose home is in the north. Such explanations as the Typhonian, the barbarian, and others, which we meet with in Hitzig, Ewald, and Meier, and which are obtained by alterations of the text or far-fetched etymologies, must be rejected as arbitrary. That which came from the north shall also be driven away by the north wind, viz., the great mass into the dry and desert land, i.e., the desert of Arabia, the van into the front (or eastern) sea, i.e., the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47:18; Zechariah 14:8), the rear into the hinder (or western) sea, i.e., the Mediterranean (cf. Deuteronomy 11:24). This is, of course, not to be understood as signifying that the dispersion was to take place in all these three directions at one and the same moment, in which case three different winds would blow at the same time; but it is a rhetorical picture of rapid and total destruction, which is founded upon the idea that the wind rises in the north-west, then turns to the north, and finally to the north-east, so that the van of the swarm is driven into the eastern sea, the great mass into the southern desert, and the rear into the western sea. The explanation given by Hitzig and others - namely, that pânı̄m signifies the eastern border, and sōph the western border of the swarm, which covered the entire breadth of the land, and was driven from north to south - cannot be sustained. Joel mentions both the van and the rear after the main body, simply because they both meet with the same fate, both falling into the sea and perishing there; whereupon the dead bodies are thrown up by the waves upon the shore, where their putrefaction fills the air with stench. The perishing of locusts in seas and lakes is attested by many authorities.

(Note: Even Pliny says (h. n. xi. 29), Gregatim sublato vento in maria aut stagna decidunt; and Jerome has the following remarks on this verse: "Even in our own times we have seen the land of Judaea covered by swarms of locusts, which, as soon as the wind rose, were precipitated into the first and latest seas, i.e., the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean. And when the shores of both seas were filled with heaps of dead locusts, which the waters had thrown up, their corruption and stench became so noxious, that even the atmosphere was corrupted, and both man and beasts suffered from the consequent pestilence.")

For עלה באשׁו, compare Isaiah 34:3 and Amos 4:10. צחנה is ἁπ. λεγ.; but the meaning corruption is sustained partly by the parallelism, and partly by the Syriac verb, which means to be dirty. The army of locusts had deserved this destruction, because it had done great things. הגדּיל לעשׂות, to do great things, is affirmed of men or other creatures, with the subordinate idea of haughtiness; so that it not only means he has done a mighty thing, accomplished a mighty devastation, but is used in the same sense as the German grosstun, via. to brag or be proud of one strength. It does not follow from this, however, that the locusts are simply figurative, and represent hostile nations. For however true it may be that sin and punishment presuppose accountability (Hengst., Hvernick), and conclusion drawn from this - namely, that they cannot be imputed to irrational creatures - is incorrect. The very opposite is taught by the Mosaic law, according to which God will punish every act of violence done by beasts upon man (Genesis 9:5), whilst the ox which killed a man was commanded to be stoned (Exodus 21:28-32).

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