This chapter in its opening verses is an exposure of the sins that separate us from God (verses 1-8). In verses 9-15a the people describes their sorrowful state, and make confession. But they feel that if action on God’s part is to be forever restrained by their sinfulness, the position seems hopeless indeed (see Note 2 on ‘justice’ below). Then in the closing verses of the chapter comes the triumphant divine answer (verses 15b-21). God is not baffled, and when there is no human help he himself comes to the rescue, in judgment upon evil-doers on the one hand, and in redemption for the penitent on the other.
- Verses 1-15. What various sins are mentioned here, and what are the consequences in the personal, social and the spiritual life of the people? With verses 1, 2 cf. 1:15-17; Mic. 3:4.
- What is the motive of God’s intervention as described in verses 15b-21? What is its twofold purpose, and what its worldwide issue? When does St Paul look for this to be fulfilled to Israel (Rom. 11:25-27)? Yet, for us who believe on Jesus Christ, is it not in part fulfilled to us now, and not least verse 21? Cf. John 14: 16, 26.
- Verses 5, 6. The plan and plots of evil-doers working fresh evil, and giving no useful result.
- Verse 9. The word ‘justice’ is used in these verses in two senses: (a) as right done by men (verse 8, 15b), and (b) as divine judgment, exercised on behalf of Israel against her oppressors (verse 9, 11, 14) the people’s lament was that the later was withheld because the former was lacking.