James Nisbet Commentary - Amos 5:8 - 5:8

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James Nisbet Commentary - Amos 5:8 - 5:8

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


‘Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: the Lord is His name.’


‘Seek the Lord, and ye shall live.’ But who and what is the Lord, when and by whom is He to be found? ‘Seek not Bethel,’ with its dumb and powerless idol calf, ‘seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion,’ etc.

I. Where is God revealed?—(1) God is revealed in the heavens. Amos was a shepherd, and many a brilliant starry sky had he seen when pursuing his nightly occupation of watching by the sheep-cotes under the cloudless Eastern heavens. Pleiades and Orion are mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Job, and in this passage only. Modern science has demonstrated that Alcyone, the brightest star of the Pleiades, is actually the centre of gravity of the solar system round which our universe revolves. This gives new meaning to the words of the text. (2) God is revealed in the lights and shades of human life. This expression ‘shadow of death’ cannot, by the usage of the words in the Hebrew, be applied to the mere alternation of day and night. It refers to the darkness of sorrow, trouble, death, and the grave, and to the darkness of sin. This is a picture of human history, whether of nations or men. God turns (a) the darkness of trouble into the light of joy; (b) the darkness of sin into the light of grace; (c) the darkness of death into the morn of the resurrection. (3) God is revealed in His judgments. ‘That calleth for the waters of the sea,’ etc. The most probable reference is to the flood of Noah. (4) God is revealed in His name. Spell out the name of God from the Bible: ‘Jehovah is His name.’

II. To whom is God revealed?—God is revealed to the true seeker. ‘Seek Him’—(1) humbly, (2) prayerfully, (3) believingly. Then the astronomer finds Him in the heavens; the geologist in the rocks; the historian in the long roll of history; the theological student in the Bible. But without purity of intention and humility of spirit, one and all may return from the quest and say, ‘I have not found God in any of these.’


‘Amos’ first call to Israel is but the echo of God’s to men, always and everywhere. All circumstances, all inward experiences, joy and sorrow, prosperity and disaster, our longings and our fears, they all cry aloud to us to seek His face. That loving invitation is ever sounding in our ears. And the promise which Amos gave, though it may have meant on his lips the continuance of national life only, yet had, even on his lips, a deeper meaning, which we now cannot but hear in it. For, just as to “seek the Lord” means more to us than it did to Israel, so the consequent life has greatened, widened, deepened into life eternal. But Amos’ narrower, more external promise is true still, and there is no surer way of promoting true well-being than seeking God. “With Thee is the fountain of life,” in all senses of the word, from the lowest purely physical to the highest, and it is only they who go thither to draw that will carry away their pitchers full of the sparkling blessing. The fundamental principle of Amos’ teaching is an eternal truth, that to seek God is to find Him, and to find Him is life.’