For wickedness burns as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest…
There is to be internecine war: Manasseh shall fly at Ephraim, and Ephraim at Manasseh, and they who could agree upon nothing between themselves always agree in flying together against Judah. This is what wickedness will bring the world to — to murder, to mutual hatred and distrust, to perdition. We do not understand the power of wickedness, because at present, owing to religious thinking and action and moral civilisation, mere are so ninny mitigating circumstances, so many relieving lights; but wickedness in itself let loose upon the earth, and the earth is no longer the abode of green thing of fair flower, or singing bird, of mutual trust and love: it becomes a pandemonium. If we could consider this deeply, it would make us solemn. We do not consider it; we are prepared to allow it as a theory or a conjecture, but the realisation of it is kept far from us. The wicked man kills himself; puts his teeth into the flesh of his own arm, and gnaws it with the hunger of a wild beast. That is what wickedness comes to! It is not an intellectual error, not a slight and passing mistake, not a lapse of judgment, or a momentarily lamentable act of misconduct which can easily be repaired: the essence of wickedness is destruction. Wickedness would no sooner hesitate to kill a little child than to snap a flower. The thing that keeps the world from suicide is the providence of God. Were God to take away the restraining influences which are keeping society together, society would gall into mutual enmity, and the controversy could only end in mutual death. "For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still." Do not blame the judgment, blame the sin; do not say, How harsh is God, say, How corrupt, how blasphemous is man!
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke.