The book of Amos is full of wordplays, double entendres, pictorial visions, and direct statements of fact and judgment. Smith's job is to address the historical, stylistic and interpretative aspects of Amos: not just what is written, but also how and why the prophecies are recorded. To do this, Smith divides each of his chapters as follows:
Smith deals especially well with the last of these. Each chapter ends with him drawing together the interpretative threads arising from the passage.
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“The third setting for the woe oracle is the funeral lament.” (Page 238)
“The theology of the book is heavily centered around the sovereign rule of God.38 He acts as creator, a revealer of these acts, a lawgiver, judge, divine warrior, gracious deliverer, and protector of his own people. No one can escape from his presence, all nations are within his realm of power, and the destiny of all peoples is determined by their relationship to him. Life and death are his to decree and these are granted according to people’s sin or their seeking after God.” (Page 32)
“The basis for the accusations against the nations is a more universal law of right and wrong which is based on conscience, national legal codes, international treaty rights, and a common sense view of right and wrong.17 Responsibility for ignoring such conventional principles cannot be avoided. The guilt of those accused is beyond the question of debate (even Ashdod and Egypt know what is right, 3:9–10) and is not dependent on the offending nation’s acceptance of a foreign theological covenant. Each nation is responsible before God for its inhumane treatment of others. Israel’s rejection of God’s grace (2:9–10) and the inhumane treatment of her own people (2:6–8) are even greater acts of rebellion.” (Pages 57–58)
“Thus Amos’ question is probably asking if they only brought sacrifices. The expected answer is no; they also walked in righteousness, gave God their obedience (Jer. 7:22), and worshiped God out of a heart of faith and love.33 Thus, Amos is calling the people to remember the past and follow the example of their fathers—they did not just give God sacrifices.” (Pages 253–254)
Smith has produced a magisterial treatment of the book of Amos.
—Tremper Longman III, Old Testament scholar and author of Daniel in the NIV Application Commentary
Smith has . . . dissected the prophet in such a way as to leave scarcely any concern and thought unattended. Even more remarkable, he has done so without being wasteful of words or being unduly repetitious. . . . It is hard improve on this book. Every pastor and informed layman should add it to his library of expository aids.
—Eugene H. Merrill, author of An Historical Survey of the Old Testament
This is a fine [commentary] which should provide a valuable resource for serious students of the Old Testament for many years. The author inter-relates with the extensive literature available on the Book of Amos and is clearly able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of all types of criticism. . . . His exegetical judgment is excellent and he avoids dogmatism where the evidence tends to be evenly balanced.
—Geoffrey Grogan, translator of Amos for the New King James Version
Joseph Michael DiVietro