The good man is perished out of the earth - A similar sentiment may be found, Psalm 12:1; Isaiah 57:1. As the early fig of excellent flavor cannot be found in the advanced season of summer, or a choice cluster of grapes after vintage, so neither can the good and upright man be discovered by searching in Israel. This comparison, says Bp. Newcome, is beautifully implied.
They hunt every man his brother with a net - This appears to be an allusion to the ancient mode of duel between the retiarius and secutor. The former had a casting net, which he endeavoured to throw over the head of his antagonist, that he might then despatch him with his short sword. The other parried the cast; and when the retiarius missed, he was obliged to run about the field to get time to set his net in right order for another throw. While he ran, the other followed, that he might despatch him before he should be able to recover the proper position of his net; and hence the latter was called secutor, the pursuer, as the other was called retiarius, or the net man. I have explained this before on Job, and other places; but because it is rarely noticed by commentators, I explain the allusion here once more. Abp. Newcome by not attending to this, has translated חרם יצודו אחיהו את איש ish eth achihu yatsudu cherem, "They hunt every man his brother for his destruction;" though he put net in the margin.
The, good - or godly, or merciful, the English margin
Man - The Hebrew word contains all. It is “he who loveth tenderly and piously” God, for His own sake, and man, for the sake of God. Mercy was probably chiefly intended, since it wits to this that the prophet had exhorted, and the sins which he proceeds to speak of, are against this. But imaginary love of God without love of man, or love of man without the love of God, is mere self-deceit. “Is perished out of the earth,” that is, by an untimely death. The good had either been withdrawn by God from the evil to come Isaiah 57:1, or had Leon cut off by those who laid wait for blood; in which case their death brought a double evil, through the guilt which such sin contracted, and then, through the loss of those who might be an example to others, and whose prayers God would hear. The loving and upright, all, who were men of mercy and truth, had ceased. They who were left, “all lie in wait for blood,” literally, bloods, that is, bloodshedding; all, as far as man can see; as Elijah complains that he was left alone.
Amid the vast number of the wicked, the righteous were as though they were not. Isaiah, at the same time, complains of the like sins, and that it was as though there were none righteous; “Your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips hate spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth” Isaiah 59:2-3. Indirectly, or directly, they destroyed life. To violence they add treachery. The good and loving had perished, and all is now violence; the upright had ceased, and all now is deceit. “They hunt every man his brother with a net.” Every man is the brother of every man, because he is man, born of the same first parent, children of the same Father: yet they lay wait for one another, as hunters for wild beasts (Compare Psalm 35:7; Psalm 57:7; Psalm 140:6; Jeremiah 5:26).
“They which lead thee,” the prophet continued, “cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” Verse 12. During the reign of Ahaz this was literally true; for of him it is written: “He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim. Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom;” “yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel.” 2 Chronicles 28:2, 3; 2 Kings 16:3. PK 324.1
This was indeed a time of great peril for the chosen nation. Only a few short years, and the ten tribes of the kingdom of Israel were to be scattered among the nations of heathendom. And in the kingdom of Judah also the outlook was dark. The forces for good were rapidly diminishing, the forces for evil multiplying. The prophet Micah, viewing the situation, was constrained to exclaim: “The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men.” “The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge.” Micah 7:2, 4. “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant,” declared Isaiah, “we should have been as Sodom, and ... Gomorrah.” Isaiah 1:9. PK 324.2
In every age, for the sake of those who have remained true, as well as because of His infinite love for the erring, God has borne long with the rebellious, and has urged them to forsake their course of evil and return to Him. “Precept upon precept; line upon line, ... here a little, and there a little,” through men of His appointment, He has taught transgressors the way of righteousness. Isaiah 28:10. PK 324.3Read in context »