on Amos 5 :23
The noise of thy songs - the melody of thy viols - They had both vocal and instrumental music in those sacrificial festivals; and God hated the noise of the one and shut his ears against the melody of the other. In the first there was nothing but noise, because their hearts were not right with God; and in the latter there could be nothing but (זמרת zimrath) cutting and scraping, because there was no heart - no religious sense in the thing, and nearly as little in them that used it. See on Amos 6:5 (note).
on Amos 5 :23
Take thou away from Me - Literally, "from upon Me," that is, from being a burden to Me, a weight on Me. So God says by Isaiah, "your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hateth; they are a burden upon Me; I am weary to bear them" Isaiah 1:14. Their "songs" and hymns were but a confused, tumultuous, "noise," since they had not the harmony of love.
For - (And) the melody of thy viols I will not hear - Yet the "nebel," probably a sort of harp, was almost exclusively consecrated to the service of God, and the Psalms were God's own writing. Doubtless they sounded harmoniously in their own ears; but it reached no further. Their melody, like much Church-music, was for itself, and ended in itself. : "Let Christian chanters learn hence, not to set the whole devotion of Psalmody in a good voice, subtlety of modulation and rapid intonation, etc., quavering like birds, to tickle the ears of the curious, take them off to themselves and away from prayer, lest they hear from God, 'I will not hear the melody of thy viols.' Let them learn that of the Apostle, 'I will sing with the Spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also' 1 Corinthians 14:15." Augustine, in Psalm 30:1-12; Enarr. iv. (p. 203. Oxford Translation) L.: "If the Psalm prays, pray; if it sorrows, sorrow; if it is glad, rejoice; if full of hope, hope; if of fear, fear. For whatever is therein written, is our mirror."
Augustine in Psalm 119 (n. 9. T. v. p. 470. Old Testament) L.: "How many are loud in voice, dumb in heart! How many lips are silent, but their love is loud! For the ears of God are to the heart of man. As the ears of the body are to the mouth of man, so the heart of man is to the ears of God. Many are heard with closed lips, and many who cry aloud are not heard." Dionysius: "God says, 'I will not hear," as He says, 'praise is not seemly in the mouth of a sinner' (Ecclesiaticus 15:9), and, 'to the ungodly saith God, what hast thou to do, to declare My statutes?' Psalm 50:16, and, 'he that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination' Proverbs 28:9. It is not meant hereby that the wicked ought wholly to abstain from the praise of God and from prayers, but that they should be diligent to amend, and know that through such imperfect services they cannot be saved." The prophet urges upon them the terribleness of the Day of Judgment, that they might feel and flee its terribleness, before it comes. He impresses on them the fruitlessness of their prayers, that, amending, they might so pray, that God would hear them.
on Amos 5 :23
5:23 Thy songs - Used in their sacrifices, and solemn feasts; herein they imitated the temple - worship, but all was unpleasing to the Lord. Will not hear - Not with delight and acceptance. Thy viols - This one kind of musical instrument is put for all the rest.