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In David's prayer of thanks to God in 1 Chronicles 17:16-27 (2 Samuel 7:23), David asks, seemingly implying that no other nation has been redeemed by God:

And what one nation on the earth is like Your people Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make for You a name by great and awesome things, by driving out nations from before Your people, whom You redeemed from Egypt? (NASB)

However, Amos 9:7 seems to imply, along with insisting that Israel is not inherently worth more than other nations by default, that God has in fact brought other peoples from other places:

“Are you not as the sons of Ethiopia to Me, You sons of Israel?” declares the Lord. “Have I not brought up Israel from the land of Egypt, And the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir? (NASB)

How can David's statement about Israel's uniquely being saved by God be understood in light of Amos? Should this be seen as specifying that, while God had 'brought up' the Philistines and Arameans, only Israel had become God's chosen people?

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    – agarza
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3 Answers 3

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A literal translation of those three verses is interesting. Young's Literal Translation does not use the word 'redeemed' in 1 Chron. 17:21; he says 'ransomed'. However, in 2 Sam. 7:23 he uses the word 'redeemed'. The key point does not seem to lie in differences between those two words for, in the context of those two texts, they seem interchangeable. But in Amos 9:7 he uses neither word (nor does the NSAB) so it might not be wise to think God has brought those other named nations to the same position of being ransomed unto redemption, as had he done with Israel.

It is right to point out that, in Amos, Israel is disparaged while those other nations appear to be lifted up by God. Yet those nations never become God's chosen nation; only if individuals from among the nations turn to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will they then become part of that called-apart nation, from God's point of view. That would entail becoming a proselyte, and the males being circumcised.

It is what the redemption of the nation of Israel is for that makes her unique. God has, indeed, had favourable dealings with other nations at various times, but he calls them to respect and honour him and his people, who are called by his name - a people meant to represent the holy God, the Creator. He also views those who do so as having - effectively - become children of Israel. Consider this Psalm where God is speaking:

"I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there. And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: the the highest himself shall establish her. The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there." Psalm 87:4-6 A.V.

Now, Rahab was never born in Zion; neither were people from those other nations. Yet because God does not show favouritism, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him (Acts 10:35), we see that fact running as an unbroken thread throughout the Old Testament. Such individuals will be brought into the household of God.

Never lose sight of the other fact, however, that God punishes entire nations that rebel against him, and that hate him over a long period of time. He did that with his own people, Israel, for their continual idolatry and injustice. He raised up the nation of Babylon to break Israel's pride and rebellion. Then, after 70 years, he raised up other nations to destroy Babylon for going too far and rejoicing in being cruel to Israel. Reading the prophet Jeremiah, who lived at that time of Israel being destroyed by Babylon, we learn all of that.

Take, for example his chapter 47 where the land of Philistia, with Gaza, Ashkelon, Tyre and Zidon, are warned that God will raise up the Egyptians to destroy them. But later on, Egypt is warned that God will then raise up the Babylonians to crush them! And then the Babylonian empire will be smashed.

Those other nations are never 'redeemed' though times of long-suffering mercy be shown to them, by God. But Israel is unique in all the world for God choosing them to bear his name. Not because they are worthy, oh no! That prideful notion is given no ground, by God telling them shortly after being redeemed from the grip of Egypt, that they were the least of all the nations, both in numbers and in strength, but he called them by his grace, and according to his purposes.

I hope this helps to enlarge an understanding of those three texts.

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    A footnote of NIV saying Rehab in Psalm 87:4 is a poetic name for Egypt Nov 14, 2023 at 15:14
  • +1 although I would not say that "Israel is disparaged" in the quote from Amos, rather it is reminded that it is ultimately no different from the other nations whose movements God has guided, and will suffer the same fate if it does not repent. Nov 14, 2023 at 16:02
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Actually there is a simple difference between the two cases.

The other nations mentioned are not conscious that God has been directing their movements.

Israel are conscious of what their God has been doing for them and the way he has been "redeeming" them from their enemies. E.g. Isaiah ch3 v1, "I have redeemed you, I have called you by name."

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Basic answer: being redeemed from slavery in Egypt is not the same as "being brought" from one location to another.

The quote from Amos serves to emphasize that all nations are in God's hands. As @Anne's answer mentioned, redemption is not mentioned here. It is simply that the migration of the nations from one place to another is part of God's providence - and the fact of Israel's special relationship with God does not mean they will not suffer devastation if they break their covenant with Him. Thus Amos continues in vss. 9-10:

I will command and shake the house of Israel among all the nations, as one shakes with a sieve but no pebble shall fall to the ground. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, “Evil shall not overtake or meet us.”

The quote from David's prayer, on the other hand, refers to Israel's unique situation of having been redeemed from slavery in Egypt. No other nation has received that special grace. After hearing Nathan's prophecy (2 Sam. 7:12) that God "will establish the throne of [your] kingdom forever," David affirms Israel's unique place in God's heart and begs that His promise will be fulfilled:

2 Samuel 7:24-26

You established your people Israel for yourself to be your people forever, and you, O Lord, became their God. And now, O Lord God, as for the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, confirm it forever; do as you have promised. Thus your name will be magnified forever in the saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel,’ and the house of your servant David will be established before you.

Conclusion: In Amos, God warns Israel that it will suffer the same fate as other nations if it persists in sinning. In David's prayer, he reminds God's of Israel's special position and begs that the nation will remain in His grace.

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