Therefore the Lord, the God of Hosts, the Lord - For the third time in these three last verses Amos again reminds them, by whose authority he speaks, His who had revealed Himself as "I am," the self-existent God, God by nature and of nature, the Creator and Ruler and Lord of all, visible or invisible, against their false gods, or fictitious substitutes for the true God. Here, over and above those titles, "He is," that is, He alone is, the "God of Hosts, God of all things, in heaven and earth," the heavenly bodies from whose influences the idolaters hoped for good, and the unseen evil beings Isaiah 24:21, who seduced them, he adds the title, which people most shrink from, "Lord." He who so threatened, was the Same who had absolute power over His creatures, to dispose of them, as He willed. It costs people nothing to own God, as a Creator, the Cause of causes, the Orderer of all things by certain fixed laws. It satisfies certain intellects, so to own Him. What man, a sinner, shrinks from, is that the God is Lord, the absolute disposer and Master of his sinful self.
Wailing in all streets - Literally, "broad places," that is, market-places. "There," where judgments were held, where were the markets, where consequently had been all the manifold oppressions through injustice in judgments and in dealings, and the wailings of the oppressed; "wailing" should come on them.
They shall say in all-the highways - that is, "streets, alas! alas!" our, "woe, woe." It is the word so often used by our Lord; "woe unto you." This is no imagery. Truth has a more awful, sterner, reality than any imagery. The terribleness of the prophecy lies in its truth. When war pressed without on the walls of Samaria, and within was famine and pestilence, woe, woe, woe, must have echoed in every street, for in every street was death and fear of worse. Yet imagine every sound of joy or din or hum of people, or mirth of children, hushed in the streets, and woe, woe, going up from every street of a metropolis, in one unmitigated, unchanging, ever-repeated monotony of grief. Such were the present fruits of sin. Yet what a mere shadow of the inward grief is its outward utterance!
And they shall call the farmer to mourning - To cultivate the fields would then only be to provide food for the enemy. His occupation would be gone. One universal sorrow would give one universal employment. To this, they would call those unskilled, with their deep strong voices; they would, by a public act, "proclaim wailing to those skillful in lamentation." It was, as it were, a dirge over the funeral of their country. As, at funerals, they employed minstrels, both men and women , who, by mournful anthems and the touching plaintiveness of the human voice, should stir up deeper depths of sorrow, so here, over the whole of Israel. And as at the funeral of one respected or beloved, they used exclamations of woe, "ah my brother!" and "ah sister, ah lord, ah his glory," so Jeremiah bids them, "call and make haste and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run down with tears: for a voice of wailing is heard out of Zion. How are we spoiled!" Jeremiah 9:17-19. : "In joy, men long to impart their joys to others, and exhort them to joy with them. Our Lord sanctions this, in speaking of the Good Shepherd, who called His friends and neighbors together, "rejoice with Me, for I have found the sheep which I had lost."
Nor is it anything new, that, when we have received any great benefit from God, we call even the inanimate creation to thank and praise God. So did David ofttimes and the three children. So too in sorrow. When anything adverse has befallen us, we invite even senseless things to grieve with us, as though our own tears sufficed not for so great a sorrow." The same feeling makes the rich now clothe those of their household in mourning, which made those of old hire mourners, that all might be in harmony with their grief.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Amos 5:16:
DISCLAIMER: Church of the Great God (CGG) provides these resources to aid the individual in studying the Bible. However, it is up to the individual to "prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good" (I Thessalonians 5:21). The content of these resources does not necessarily reflect the views of CGG. They are provided for information purposes only.