As the shepherd taketh - (Rather, rescueth) out of the mouth of the lion two legs (Properly, the shank, the lower part of the leg below the knee, which in animals is dry, and bone only and worthless) "or apiece" (the tip) "of an ear, so" (that is, so few and weak, so bared and spoiled, a mere remnant,) "shall the children of Israel be taken out" (rather, "rescued" ) "that" now "dwell" at ease "in Samaria in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus" , in "a couch," or rather "in Damascus, a couch." Now, that soft, rounded, oblong, hill of Samaria, was one large luxurious couch, in which its rich and great rested securely, propped and cushioned up on both sides, in, what is still the place of dignity, "the corner of a bed," or "Divan," that is, the inner corner where the two sides meet. Damascus also, which Jeroboam had won for Israel, was a canopied couch to them, in which they stayed themselves. It is an image of listless ease and security, like that of these whom the false prophetesses lulled into careless stupidity as to their souls; "sewing pillows to all armholes," or "wrists" Ezekiel 13:18, whereon to lean in a dull inertness.
In vain! Of all those who then dwelt at ease and in luxury, the Good Shepherd Himself should rescue from "the lion," (the enemy, in the first instance the Assyrian,) a small remnant, in the sight of the enemy and of man of little account, but precious in the sight of God. The enemy would leave them perhaps, as not worth removing, just as, when the lion has devoured the fat and the strong, the shepherd may recover from him some slight piece of skin or extremity of the bones. Amos then, as well as Joel (see the note at Joel 2:32), preaches that same solemn sentence, so repeated throughout the prophets, "a reimnant" only "shall be saved." So doubtless it was in the captivity of the ten tribes, as in the rest. So it was in Judah, when certain "of the poor of the land" only were "left behind vinedessers and for farmers" II Kings 25:12; Jeremiah 52:16. In the Gospel, "not many wise men after the flesh not many mighty, not many noble were called" I Corinthians 1:26, but "God chose the poor of this world, rich in faith James 2:5, and the Good Shepherd rescued from the mouth of the lion those whom man despised, yet who "had ears to hear."
After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, a poor remnant only escaped. Rup.: "The spirit of prophecy foresaw both captivities, the end whereof was to confirm the faith, not in one place only but in all the earth, and so a slight remnant was "rescued from the mouth of the lion," that is, from the slaughter of the destroyers, and permitted to live, that through them, as a witness and monument, the justice of God might be known from age to age, and the truth of the Scriptures might be everywhere, borne about by them, still witnessing to Christ the Son of God, who is known by the law and the prophets. Hapness remnants, so "taken out" for the good of others, not their own!" As these remnants of the animal show what it was which the lion destroyed, yet are of no further profit, so are they now a memorial of what they once were, what grace through their sins they have lost.
Rib.: "Many souls will perish because they trust in their own strength, and no more call on God to have mercy on them than if they could rise of themselves and enter the way of salvation without God. They trust in the power of their friends, or the friendship of princes, or the doctrines of philophers, and repose in them as in a couch of Damascus. But Christ, the Good Shepherd, will rescue out of the mouth of "the lion," who "goeth about seeking, whom he may devour," what is last and of least esteem in this world, who have anything whereby the Good Shepherd can hold them. The "legs" signify the desire to go to hear the Word of God; the extremity of the ear, that obedience was not wholly lost. For if any begin even in part to obey the word of God which he hath heard, God, of His fatherly mercy, will help him and lead him on to perfect obedience. The legs also denote desire , whereby, as by certain steps, the soul approacheth to God or departeth from Him. Yet if a soul would be saved, desires suffice not; but if to these obedience to the heavenly commands be added, it shall be rescued from the mouth of the lion."
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Amos 3:12:
2 Kings 8:9
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