the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they took as wives whomever they chose.
I. ILL-ASSORTED MARRIAGES. The sons of God - i.e. the seed of the righteous, such men as the patriarchs described in Genesis 5., men who walked with God, and were his prophets - fell away from their allegiance to the Divine order, and went after the daughters of the Cainites, The self-will and mere carnal affections are denoted by the expression "all whom they chose."
II. VIOLENCE AND MILITARY AMBITION. The giants were the "nephilim," those who assaulted and fell upon their neighbors. The increase of such men is distinctly traced to the corrupt alliances.
III. THE WITHDRAWAL by judgment of THE DIVINE SPIRIT from marl, by which may be meant not only the individual degeneracy which we see exemplified in such a case as Cain, driven out from the presence of the Lord, given up to a reprobate mind, and afterwards in Pharaoh; but the withdrawal of prophecy and such special spiritual communications as had been given by such men as Enoch.
IV. THE SHORTENING OF HUMAN LIFE. Since the higher moral influence of Christianity has been felt in society during the last three centuries, it is calculated that the average length of human life has been increased twofold. The anthropomorphism of these verses is in perfect accordance with the tone of the whole Book of Genesis, and is not in the least a perversion of truth. It is rather a revelation of truth, as anticipating the great central fact of revelation, God manifest in the flesh. But why is God said to have determined to destroy the face of the earth, the animal creation with the sinful man? Because the life of man involved that of the creatures round him. "The earth is filled with violence." To a large extent the beasts, creeping things, and fowls of the air participate in the disorder of the human race, being rendered unnaturally savage and degenerate in their condition by man's disorderly ways. Moreover, any destruction which should sweep away a whole race of men must involve the lower creation. The defeat of a king is the defeat of his subjects. In all this corruption and misery there is yet, by the grace of God, one oasis of spiritual life, the family of Noah. He found grace not because he earned it, but because he kept what had been given him, both through his ancestors and by the work of the Spirit in his own heart. - R.
With thee will I establish My covenant.1. The leading ideas suggested by a covenant are those of peace and goodwill between the parties, and if differences have subsisted, forgiveness of the past, and security for the future. Such were the friendly alliances between Abram and Abimelech, Isaac and another of the same name, and between Jacob and Laban. God was highly displeased with the world, and would, therefore, destroy that generation by a flood, but when He should have done this, He would return in loving kindness and tender mercies, and would look upon the earth with a propitious eye. Nor should they be kept in fearful expectation of being so destroyed again; for He would pledge His word no more to be wroth with them in such a way, nor to rebuke them forever.
2. In covenants wherein one or both the parties had been offended, it was usual to offer sacrifices, in which a kind of atonement was made for past offences, and a perfect reconciliation followed. Such were the covenants before referred to; and such, as we shall see at the close of the eighth chapter, was the covenant in question. "Noah offered sacrifices, and the Lord smelled a sweet savour, and promised to curse the ground no more for man's sake."
3. In covenants which include a blessing on many, and they unworthy, it is God's ordinary method to bestow it in reward, or for the sake of one who was dear to Him. God loves men, but He also loves righteousness: hence He delights to bestow His blessings in such a way as manifest His true character. If there had been any dependence on Noah's posterity, that they would all have walked in his steps, the covenant might have been established with them as well as him; but they would soon degenerate into idolatry, and all manner of wickedness. If, therefore, He will bestow favour on them in such a way as to express His love of righteousness, it must be for their father Noah's sake, and in reward of his righteousness. To say, "With thee will I establish My covenant," was saying in effect, "I will not treat with thy ungodly posterity: whatever favour I show them, it shall be for thy sake."
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