on Amos 6 :13
That is, in your fancied strength, which is none at all, a mere nonentity.
"For I am God, (ולא איש velo ish), and no-man;
The Holy One in the midst of thee, yet do not frequent cities."
Amos 6:13Ye which rejoice in a thing of naught - In your idols: for an idol is nothing in the world.
Have we not taken to us horns - We have arrived to power and dignity by our strength. Horns were the symbols of power and authority. So Horace: -
Vina parant animos: tum pauper cornua sumet.
on Amos 6 :13
Who rejoice - (Literally, "the rejoicers!" Amos, as is his wont, speaks of them with contempt and wonder at their folly, "the rejoicers!" much as we say, the cowards! the renegades!) "in a thing of nought," literally, "a non-thing," ("no-whit, nought") not merely in a thing valueless, but in a "non-thing," that has no existence at all, as nothing has any substantial existence out of God. This "non-thing" was their power, strength, empire, which they thought they had, but which was soon to shrivel away as a scroll.
Which say - , (as before, "the sayers!" they who have this saying habitually in their month) have we not taken to ourselves horn? The horn is the well-known symbol of strength which repels and tosses away what opposes it, as the bull doth its assailant. Moses, in his blessing, had used this symbol, of the strength of the tribe of Joseph, and as being a blessing, he spoke of it, as the gift of God. "His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of buffalos; with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth; and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh" Deuteronomy 33:17. To this blessing, doubtless, Zedekiah the false prophet referred , when he "made him horns of iron, and said" to Ahab, "Thus saith the Lord, with these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou hast consumed them." The Psalmist said, "through Thee will we push down our enemies," as with a horn Psalm 44:5-7; and adds, "For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me. For Thou hast saved us from our enemies." Israel ascribed God's gift to himself. He had been repeatedly and greatly victorious; he had conquered every enemy, with whom he had of old been at strife; he ascribed it to himself, and forfeited it. "By our own strength," he said, instead of, "by the help of God;" as if we were to ascribe our Indian victories to our generals or our armies, and to substitute self-praise for Te Deums on days of thanksgiving.
Lap.: "The sinner rejoiceth in a non-thing. Sin is a 'non-thing':
(1) as being a thing of nought, that is, vain and valueless.
(2) Its pleasure is fleeting; from where the Psalmist says, "all the men, whose hands are mighty, have found nothing" Psalm 76:5.
(3) Sin brings the sinner to nothing, that is, destruction and death, temporal and eternal.
(4) Sin is the privation of good; but privation is a mere negative; that is, nothing.
(5) Sin deprives of God who is All and the Creator of all.
(6) Sin is nothing, because it cleaves to and joys in creatures and opposes them and prefers them to the Creator.
For creatures, compared to the Creator, are shadows of things, not the very things, and so are nothing. For the Being and Name of God is, I am that I am, that is, I am He who alone have true, full, solid, eternal, infinite, Being; but creatures participate from Me a shadow of their true being, for their being is so poor, brief, fleeting, unstable, perishing, that, compared to Mine, they may rather be said, not to be, than to be. So then as creatures have no true being, so neither have they true good, but only a shadow of good. So also as to truth, wisdom, power, justice, holiness and other attributes. These have in God their real being; in creatures a shadow of being only. Whence God is called in Scripture alone wise Romans 16:27, alone mighty 1 Timothy 6:15, alone immortal 1 Timothy 6:16, alone Lord Isaiah 37:20, alone holy Revelation 15:4, alone good Luke 18:19; because He alone has true, full, uncreated and infinite wisdom, power, goodness, etc. But the sinner, in that he delights in creatures not in the Creator, delights in a shadow, a nothing, not in the true Being. But, because these shadows of creatures amid the dimness of this life appear great to man in his blindness, (as the mountains, at sunset, cast broad and deep shadows,) he admires and pursues these shadows, like the dog in the fable, who, seeing the shadow of the meat in the water, magnified in the water, snatched at it, and so lost the meat and did not attain the shadow. O Lord, dispel our darkness, lighten our eyes, that we may love and seek, not the shadows of honors, riches, and pleasures, which, like meteors, (dazzle here on earth our mind's eye, but may with fixed gaze, behold, love, and compass the real honors, riches, pleasures themselves, which Thou hast from eternity laid up and prepared in heaven for those who love Thee."
on Amos 6 :13
6:13 Who rejoice - In your victories, alliances, and idols. Have we not - We have raised ourselves to greatness by our wisdom and courage.