|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-11 The servants of the Lord are deeply afflicted by seeing ungodliness and violence prevail; especially among those who profess the truth. No man scrupled doing wrong to his neighbour. We should long to remove to the world where holiness and love reign for ever, and no violence shall be before us. God has good reasons for his long-suffering towards bad men, and the rebukes of good men. The day will come when the cry of sin will be heard against those that do wrong, and the cry of prayer for those that suffer wrong. They were to notice what was going forward among the heathen by the Chaldeans, and to consider themselves a nation to be scourged by them. But most men presume on continued prosperity, or that calamities will not come in their days. They are a bitter and hasty nation, fierce, cruel, and bearing down all before them. They shall overcome all that oppose them. But it is a great offence, and the common offence of proud people, to take glory to themselves. The closing words give a glimpse of comfort.
Verse 3. - Why dost thou show me - Why dost thou let me see daily with my own eyes - iniquity abounding, the very evil which Balaam says (Numbers 23:21) the Lord had not found in Israel? Cause me to behold grievance. This should be, Dost thou look upon perverseness? He asks how God can look on this evil and leave it unpunished. The LXX. and the Vulgate translate the word amal "trouble," or "labour;" Keil, "distress." In this case it means the trouble and distress which a man inflicts on others, as wrong doing seems to be generally spoken cf. Spoiling and violence are before me. "Spoiling" is robbery that causes desolation. "Violence" is conduct that wrongs one's neighbour. The two words are often joined; e.g. Jeremiah 6:7; Amos 3:10. Vulgate, praedam et injustitiam. These are continually coming before the prophet's eyes. There are that raise up strife and contention; better, there is strife, and contention is raised. This refers to the abuse of the Law by grasping, quarrelsome nobles. Septuagint, "Against me judgment hath gone, and the judge receiveth bribes." So the Syriac and Arabic. The Vulgate gives, Factum est judicium, et contradictio potentior, where judicium is used in a bad sense.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Why dost thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance?.... That is, wicked men, and such as give a great deal of trouble vexation, and grief to others, by their rapine and oppression; suggesting that he could not turn his eyes any where, but such persons presented themselves to his view; and that their wicked actions were performed by them openly and publicly, in the sight of all, without any shame or fear. So the Targum,
"why do I see oppressors, and behold those that do the labour of falsehood?''
For spoiling and violence are before me; in my sight and presence, though a prophet, and notwithstanding all my remonstrances, exhortations, and reproofs; such were the hardness, obstinacy, and impudence of this people; to such a height and pitch of iniquity were they arrived, as to regard not the prophets of the Lord. The Targum is,
"spoilers and robbers are before me:''
or, "against me" (q), as in the text; these sins were committed against him, he was injuriously used himself; or they were done to others, contrary to his advice and persuasion:
and there are that raise up strife and contention; in the kingdom, in cities, in families; in one man, brother, friend, and neighbour, against another; which occasion lawsuits, and in them justice is not done, as follows. It may be rendered, and "there shall be and is a man of strife"; so Japhet: "and he shall raise up contention"; one man given to strife will and does use great contention in communities, civil and religious.
(q) "contra me", Pagninus, Montanus; "e regione mei", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Tarnovius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. cause me to behold grievance—Maurer denies that the Hebrew verb is ever active; he translates, "(Wherefore) dost Thou behold (without doing aught to check) grievance?" The context favors English Version.
there are that raise up strife and contention—so Calvin. But Maurer, not so well, translates, "There is strife, and contention raises itself."
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