Poole’s English Annotations of the Holy Bible
“And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man”
Strive with man, or, contend, or, debate in or against men, as it has hitherto done, by inward motions and suggestions in the minds and consciences of wicked men, or by the mouths and ministry of that small remnant of holy men, and particularly of Noah, who protested against and contended with the world of the ungodly, and by their doctrines, admonitions, threatenings, and examples, endeavoured to bring them to repentance: 1 Peter 3:19; or dispute with, or concerning, or because of men, i.e. whether I should destroy or save him, as God disputes with or about Ephraim, Hosea 11:8.
“I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people”
I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name; I invited whole nations by the preaching of my gospel to behold me; and I invited them with importunity, doubling my words upon them; and this I did unto a…
I; applied to the Jews, Romans 10:21, I have stretched out my hands; that is, hands of a passionate orator to persuade them, of a tender mother to protect and defend them, of a liberal benefactor; this I have done continually in the whole course of my providence with them, yet they are a rebellious people. Paul expounded it by, [in Greek] apeiyounta kai antigegonta, a people not persuaded, not believing, but contradicting the will of God.
“Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?…
For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”
Now, O ye perverse Jews! if by these truths you will judge of me, could it enter the thoughts of any one of you, that I should, as delighting in the death of sinners, impute other men’s sins to you, that you might die for them, when I could not slay you for your own? Think not thus of the God of mercy, who pities, forbears, and though at last has punished obstinate sinners, yet never delighted in their death. Is it not my command that you and other sinners repent? Have not you and others found mercy upon seeming repentance? [that is, reprobates found mercy with God, though their repentance was not fully sincere] And as for that repentance which is sound, it ever had a full pardon; and the promise of life and pardon has been repeated and confirmed to you again and again; so that it is the most unjust, unreasonable, and impious quarrel you, O Jews, have taken up against your God, who would have you repent of your own sins, and you should live, but if you repent not, you shall die, but for your own sins, not your fathers’. Since therefore I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God, turn yourselves, and live ye, as it is Ezekiel 18:32; for this 23rd verse equally declares God’s mercy and our duty, the one in his pleasure at our return, the other in our pleasing Him herein.
Another argument to persuade to conversion, taken from the gracious nature of God, who takes pleasure in the return of a sinner; for that is the meaning of the words: sinners displease God when they undo themselves, they please him when they return.