Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy” (Psalm 103:8). This statement occurs eight times in the Bible. It is, in a way, a declaration of God’s governmental ways. The first time He spoke thus was to Moses when the people of Israel had transgressed the law just given (cf. Exodus 34:6). Today’s verse describes the reaction of many people to God’s patience: they take it as an opportunity to continue their evil ways. This can be explained only by interpreting God’s gracious attitude as toleration or even a proof of His non-existence – a fateful error, against which the Bible gives earnest warnings:
“Do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath … and the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his deeds” (Romans 2:4-6).
“You hate instruction and cast my words behind you. When you saw a thief, you consented with him and have been a partaker with adulterers. You give your mouth to evil and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I kept silent. You thought that I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes” (Psalm 50:17-21).
“The Lord … is longsuffering toward you, not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9).