Verse 3. The wicked are estranged from the womb. It is small wonder that some men persecute the righteous seed of the woman, since all of them are of the serpent's brood, and enmity is set between them. No sooner born than alienated from God -- what a condition to be found in! Do we so early leave the right track? Do we at the same moment begin to be men and commence to be sinners?
They go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Every observer may see how very soon infants act lies. Before they can speak they practise little deceptive arts. This is especially the case in those who grow up to be adept in slander, they begin their evil trade early, and there is no marvel that they become adept in it. He who starts early in the morning will go far before night. To be untruthful is one of the surest proofs of a fallen state, and since falsehood is universal, so also is human depravity.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. The wicked are estranged from the womb, etc. How early men do sin! How late they do repent! As soon as they are born "they go astray," but if left to themselves they will not return till they die; they will never return. Children can neither go nor speak as soon as born, but as soon as born they can "go astray" and "speak lies;" that is, their first speaking is lying, and their first going is straying; yea, when they cannot go naturally, they can go astray morally or metaphorically: the first step they are able to take is a step out of the way. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 3. They go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Of all sins, no sin can call Satan father like to lying. All the corruption that is in us came from Satan, but yet this sin of forging and lying is from the devil more than any; tastes of the devil more than any. Hence every man is a liar ( Romans 3:4 ), and so every man is every sinner else; but in a special manner every man is a liar; for that the very first depravation of our nature came in by lying, and our nature doth taste much still of this old block to be given to lying, the devil also breathing into us a strong breath to stir us up to lying. Hence no sooner do we speak but we lie. As we are in body, subject to all diseases, but yet, some to one sickness rather than to another: so in the soul, all are apt enough to all sin, and some rather to one vice than to another; but all are much inclined to lying. A liar then is as like the devil as ever he can look: as unlike to God as ever he can be. Richard Capel, 1586-1656, in "Tentations, their Nature, Danger, Cure."
Verse 3. The figure of the wicked going astray as soon as they are born, seems to be taken from the disposition and power of a young serpent soon after its birth. The youngest serpent can convey poison to anything which it bites; and the suffering in all cases is great, though the bite is seldom fatal. Place a stick near the reptile whose age does not amount to many days, and he will immediately snap at it. The offspring of the tiger and of the alligator are equally fierce in their earliest habits. Joseph Roberts, in "Oriental Illustrations of the Sacred Scriptures," 1844.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- The natural effects of original sin are seen in early
suffering and death.
- Its moral effects are seen in the early commission of
- Early depravity is evinced in the conscious guilt of
telling lies. G. R.
Verse 3. (first clause). The inner pandemonium, or the calendar of the heart's crime.