"before the wicked become tender, they harden as the thorn:''
that is, they never become tender, or have any tender consciences, but are hardened in sin from their infancy. Some render the words, "before your thorns grow up to a brier" or "bramble" (i); little thorns become great ones, tender thorns hard ones, as Jarchi; that is, as he interprets it, before the children of the wicked are grown up, they are destroyed; those sons of Belial, who are like to thorns thrust away, 2 Samuel 23:6. Others, as Aben Ezra, "before they understand"; that is, wise and knowing men; "that your thorns are a bramble"; or from lesser ones are become greater; and so denotes, as before, the suddenness and quickness of their destruction, as follows:
he, that is, God,
shall take them away as with a whirlwind: not to himself, as Enoch; nor to heaven, whither Elijah went up by a whirlwind; but out of the land of the living, and as with a tempest, to hell, where snares, fire, and brimstone, are rained upon them; see Job 27:20;
both living, and in his wrath: when in health and full strength, and so go quick to hell; as Korah and his company alive into the earth; and all in wrath and sore displeasure: for the righteous are also taken away; but then it is from the evil to come, and to everlasting happiness; and through many tempestuous providences, which are in love, and for their good, do they enter the kingdom: and those that are alive at Christ's coming will be caught up to meet him in the air; but the wicked are taken away as in a whirlwind, alive, and in wrath.
(i) Tigurine version.