Amos 5:13
Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.
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(13) Prudent . . . silence.—The dumb silence of the prudent is the awful curse which comes upon a people when they are given up to selfishness and rapacity. Thus the doom:—“Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.”

5:7-17 The same almighty power can, for repenting sinners, easily turn affliction and sorrow into prosperity and joy, and as easily turn the prosperity of daring sinners into utter darkness. Evil times will not bear plain dealing; that is, evil men will not. And these men were evil men indeed, when wise and good men thought it in vain even to speak to them. Those who will seek and love that which is good, may help to save the land from ruin. It behoves us to plead God's spiritual promises, to beseech him to create in us a clean heart, and to renew a right spirit within us. The Lord is ever ready to be gracious to the souls that seek him; and then piety and every duty will be attended to. But as for sinful Israel, God's judgments had often passed by them, now they shall pass through them.Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time - The "time" may be either the time of the obduracy of the wicked, or that of the common punishment. For a time may be called "evil," whether evil is done, or is suffered in it, as Jacob says, "Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been" Genesis 47:9. Of the first, he would perhaps say, that the oppressed poor would, if wise, be silent, not complaining or accusing, for, injustice having the mastery, complaint would only bring on them fresh sufferings. And again also he may mean that, on account of the incorrigibleness of the people, the wise and the prophets would be silent, because the more the people were rebuked, the more impatient and worse they became. So our Lord was silent before His judges, as had been foretold of Him, for since they would not hear, His speaking would only increase their condemnation. "If I tell you, ye will not believe; and if I also ask you, ye will not answer Me, nor let Me go" Luke 22:67-68. So God said by Solomon: "He that reproveth a scorner getteth himself shame, and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot" Proverbs 9:7. And our Lord bids, "Give not that which is holy unto dogs, and cast not your pearls before swine" Matthew 7:6. They hated and rejected those who rebuked them. Matthew 7:10. Since then rebuke profited not, the prophets should hold their peace. It is a fearful judgment, when God withholds His warnings. In times of punishment also the prudent keep silence. Intense affliction is "dumb and openeth not its month," owning the hand of God. It may be too, that Amos, like Hosea Hos 4:4, Hosea 4:17, expresses the uselessness of all reproof, in regard to the most of those whom be called to repentance, even while he continued earnestly to rebuke them. 13. the prudent—the spiritually wise.

shall keep silence—not mere silence of tongue, but the prudent shall keep himself quiet from taking part in any public or private affairs which he can avoid: as it is "an evil time," and one in which all law is set at naught. Eph 5:16 refers to this. Instead of impatiently agitating against irremediable evils, the godly wise will not cast pearls before swine, who would trample these, and rend the offerers (Mt 7:6), but will patiently wait for God's time of deliverance in silent submission (Ps 39:9).

Therefore, because that men are so universally impatient of hearing reproof, and yet their sins so much abound, and so much deserve reproof; since they will sooner turn against the speaker, than turn from the sin spoken against.

The prudent; the wise men; prophets, say some, but I rather think other private men are here meant, whose private capacity alloweth them to keep silence when others must speak.

Shall keep silence; be forced to it, say some, they shall be silenced; this is true, but rather here is a voluntary, chosen silence toward vile corrupters of law and justice, who will nothing mend though reproved; or a silence before God, owning his justice in punishing such sinners.

For it is an evil time; both for the sinfulness of it, which provoketh God to wrath, and for the sorrows, troubles, wars, and captivity of this people, by the Assyrians.

Therefore the prudent shall keep silence at that time,.... Not the prophets of the Lord, whose business it was at all times to reprove, and not hold their peace, let the consequence be what it would; though the Targum calls them teachers; but private persons, whose wisdom it would be to say nothing; since reproof would do no good to these persons, and they would bring a great deal of hatred ill will, and trouble upon themselves as well as would hear the name of God blasphemed, which would be very afflictive to them: or the sense is, they would not speak to God on the behalf of these wicked men, knowing the decree was gone forth; nor say one murmuring word at it, believing it was in righteousness; and being struck also with the awfulness of God's righteous judgments:

for it is an evil time; in which sin abounded, and miseries and calamities on account of it.

Therefore {h} the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.

(h) God will so plague them that they will not allow the godly to open their mouths once to admonish them of their faults.

13. In a time such as that, the prudent man will keep silence; a complaint, or accusation, or attempt to redress the wrongs which he sees about him, will be perilous to him, if he be in a good position, and will only add to his sufferings, if he be poor.

shall keep] will keep, viz. if he is guided by his prudence.

in that time] not, at a future time, but at a time such as that which has been just described.

an evil time] a time when a man may well be anxious for his personal safety (cf. Psalm 49:5).

Verse 13. - Even while he speaks, the prophet feels that his reproof is useless (comp. Jeremiah 7:27, etc.; Hosea 4:1, 17). In that time; at such a time as this, the man who acts wisely holds his peace, because it is a time of moral corruption and of personal danger. But the prophet cannot restrain his call (comp. Ezekiel 33:3, etc.). In Micah 2:3 the "evil time" is one of calamity. Amos 5:13With the new turn that all talking is useless, Amos repeats the admonition to seek good and hate evil, if they would live and obtain favour with God _(Amos 5:13-15); and then appends the threat that deep mourning will arise on every hand, since God is drawing near to judgment. Amos 5:13. "Therefore, whoever has prudence at this time is silent, for it is an evil time." As lâkhēn (therefore) always introduces the threatening of divine punishment after the exposure of the sins (cf. Amos 5:11, Amos 5:16; Amos 6:7; Amos 4:12; Amos 3:11), we might be disposed to connect Amos 5:13 with the preceding verse; but the contents of the verse require that it should be taken in connection with what follows, so that lâkhēn simply denote the close connection of the two turns of speech, i.e., indicates that the new command in Amos 5:14, Amos 5:15 is a consequence of the previous warnings. Hammaskı̄l, the prudent man, he who acts wisely, is silent. בּעת ההיא, at a time such as this is, because it is an evil time, not however "a dangerous time to speak, on account of the malignity of those in power," but a time of moral corruption, in which all speaking and warning are of no avail. It is opposed to the context to refer בעת ההיא to the future, i.e., to the time when God will come to punish, in which case the silence would be equivalent to not murmuring against God (Rashi and others). At the same time, love to his people, and zeal for their deliverance, impel the prophet to repeat his call to them to return.
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