We have here a further account of the corruption of the old world. When the sons of God had matched with the daughters of men, though it was very displeasing to God, yet he did not immediately cut them off, but waited to see what would be the issue of these marriages, and which side the children would take after; and it proved (as usually it does), that they took after the worst side. Here is,
I. The temptation they were under to oppress and do violence. They were giants, and they were men of renown; they became too hard for all about them, and carried all before them, 1. With their great bulk, as the sons of Anak, Num. 13:33. 2. With their great name, as the king of Assyria, Isa. 37:11. These made them the terror of the mighty in the land of the living; and, thus armed, they daringly insulted the rights of all their neighbours and trampled upon all that is just and sacred. Note, Those that have so much power over others as to be able to oppress them have seldom so much power over themselves as not to oppress; great might is a very great snare to many. This degenerate race slighted the honour their ancestors had obtained by virtue and religion, and made themselves a great name by that which was the perpetual ruin of their good name.
II. The charge exhibited and proved against them, Gen. 6:5. The evidence produced was incontestable. God saw it, and that was instead of a thousand witnesses. God sees all the wickedness that is among the children of men; it cannot be concealed from him now, and, if it be not repented of, it shall not be concealed by him shortly. Now what did God take notice of? 1. He observed that the streams of sin that flowed along in men’s lives, and the breadth and depth of those streams: He saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth. Observe the connection of this with what goes before: the oppressors were mighty men and men of renown; and, then, God saw that the wickedness of man was great. Note, The wickedness of a people is great indeed when the most notorious sinners are men of renown among them. Things are bad when bad men are not only honoured notwithstanding their wickedness, but honoured for their wickedness, and the vilest men exalted. Wickedness is then great when great men are wicked. Their wickedness was great, that is, abundance of sin was committed in all places, by all sorts of people; and such sin as was in its own nature most gross, and heinous, and provoking; it was committed daringly, and with a defiance of heaven, nor was any care taken by those that had power in their hands to restrain and punish it. This God saw. Note, All the sins of sinners are known to God the Judge. Those that are most conversant in the world, though they see much wickedness in it, yet they see but little of that which is; but God sees all, and judges aright concerning it, how great it is, nor can he be deceived in his judgment. 2. He observed the fountain of sin that was in men’s hearts. Any one might see that the wickedness of man was great, for they declared their sin as Sodom; but God’s eye went further: He saw that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually—a sad sight, and very offensive to God’s holy eye! This was the bitter root, the corrupt spring: all the violence and oppression, all the luxury and wantonness, that were in the world, proceeded from the corruption of nature; lust conceived them, Jas. 1:15. See Matt. 15:19. (1.) The heart was naught; it was deceitful and desperately wicked. The principles were corrupt, and the habits and dispositions evil. (2.) The thoughts of the heart were so. Thought is sometimes taken for the settled judgment or opinion, and this was bribed, and biased, and misled; sometimes it signifies the workings of the fancy, and these were always either vain or vile, either weaving the spider’s web or hatching the cockatrice’s egg. (3.) The imagination of the thoughts of the heart was so, that is, their designs and devices were wicked. They did not do evil through mere carelessness, as those that walk at all adventures, not heeding what they do; but they did evil deliberately and designedly, contriving how to do mischief. It was bad indeed; for it was only evil, continually evil, and every imagination was so. There was no good to be found among them, no, not at any time: the stream of sin was full, and strong, and constant; and God saw it; see Ps. 14:1-3.