Yet he passed away - Compare the notes at Job 20:5. The allusion here, of course, is to the man, and not to the tree, though the grammatical construction might refer to either. The idea is that he passed out of view - "he was gone;" he had no permanent abode on earth, but with all his pomp and splendor he had disappeared. Neither his prosperity, his greatness, nor his wealth, could secure him a permanent abode on earth. It might be said, also, in reply to this, that the good man passes away and is not. That is true. But the meaning here is, that this occurs "so much more frequently" in the case of a wicked man, or that wickedness is followed so often in this life by the judgment of God in cutting him off, as to show that there is a moral government, and that that government is administered in favor of the righteous, or that it is an advantage in this life to be righteous. It cannot be meant that this is "universally" so here, but that this is the "general" rule, and that it is so constant as to show that God is on the side of virtue and religion.
And lo, he was not - He was no more; there was no longer any such person: The word "lo" implies that there was some degree of surprise, or that what had occurred was not looked for or expected. The observer had seen him in great power, flourishing, rich, honored; and, to his astonishment, he soon passed entirely away.
Yea, I sought him, but he could not be found - This is intended to "confirm" what had been just said, or to show how completely he had disappeared. It might be supposed, perhaps, that his removal was only temporary - that he was still somewhere upon the earth; but the psalmist says that after the most diligent search, he could not find him. He had disappeared entirely from among men.
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