on Genesis 6 :3
My spirit shall not always strive - It is only by the influence of the Spirit of God that the carnal mind can be subdued and destroyed; but those who wilfully resist and grieve that Spirit must be ultimately left to the hardness and blindness of their own hearts, if they do not repent and turn to God. God delights in mercy, and therefore a gracious warning is given. Even at this time the earth was ripe for destruction; but God promised them one hundred and twenty years' respite: if they repented in that interim, well; if not, they should be destroyed by a flood. See the note on Genesis 6:5
on Genesis 6 :3
My Spirit - , in contradistinction to the spirit of disobedience which, by the fall, obtained entrance into the soul of man. "Shall not strive with man forever." To strive דון dı̂yn is to keep down, rule, judge, or strive with a man by moral force. From this passage we learn that the Lord by his Spirit strives with man up to a certain point. In this little negative sentence streams out the bright light of God's free and tender mercy to the apostate race of man. He sends his Spirit to irradiate the darkened mind, to expostulate with the conscience, to prompt and strengthen holy resolve, and to bring back the heart, the confidence, the affection to God. He effects the blessed result of repentance toward God in some, who are thus proved to be born of God. But it is a solemn thought that with others he will not strive perpetually. There is a certain point beyond which he will not go, for sufficient reasons known fully to himself, partly to us. Two of these we are to notice for our instruction: First, he will not touch the free agency of his rational creatures. He can put no force on the volitions of men. An involuntary or compulsory faith, hope, love, obedience, is a contradiction in terms; and anything that could bear the name can have no moral validity whatsoever. Secondly, after giving ample warning, instruction, and invitation, he will, as a just judgment on the unbelieving and the impenitent, withdraw his Spirit and let them alone. The antediluvian world was fast approaching to this point of final perversity and abandonment.
Inasmuch as he is also flesh - , in contradistinction to spirit, the breath of life which the Almighty breathed Into his nostrils. These two parts of man's complex being were originally in true and happy adjustment, the corporeal being the fit organ and complement of the spiritual as it is in him. But now by the fall the flesh has gained the upper hand, and the spirit is in the bondage of corruption. The fact that he is flesh also as well as spirit, has therefore come out into sad prominence. The doctrine of the carnal mind in the Epistle to the Romans Rom. 8 is merely the outgrowth of the thought expressed in this passage.
His days shall be an hundred and twenty years. - "His days" are the days of man, not the individual, but the race, with whom the Lord still strives. Hence, they refer to the duration, not of the life of an individual, but of the existence of the race. From this we learn that the narrative here reverts to a point of time before the birth of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, recorded in the close of the preceding passage as there were only a hundred years from their birth to the deluge. This is according to the now well-known method of Scripture, when it has two lines of events to carry on. The former narrative refers to the godly portion of mankind; this to the ungodly remnant.
Not forever will the Lord strive with man; but his longsuffering will still continue for one hundred and twenty years. Meanwhile he does not leave himself or his clemency without a witness. He sent Noah with the message of warning, who preached by his voice, by his walking with God, and also by his long labor and perseverance in the building of the ark. The doomed race, however, filled up the measure of their iniquity, and when the set number of years was accomplished, the overwhelming flood came.
on Genesis 6 :3