31. A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the LORD.
31. Pervenit (hoc est, perveniet) sonitus (vel, impetus) ad extremitatem terrae; quia lis Jehovae cum gentibus, judicium (id est, contentio, vel, disceptatio) ei contra omnem carnem: impios dabit (tradet) ipsos ad gladium, dicit Jehova.
He pursues the same subject; he says that there would be a dreadful assault, and that it would extend to the extreme parts of the earth. The word s'vn, shaun, means a noise or sound; but it is also taken for violence or assault; and either meaning would not be unsuitable here. The sound then, or assault, shall come to the extreme parts of the earth It then follows, that God had a strife with all nations; and here the Prophet seems to obviate a question that might have been raised, "What does this mean? that God will suddenly raise a commotion, after having been quiet and still for so many ages, without giving any symptom of his vengeance?" For we have said that the nations here mentioned had been long in a tranquil state. Hence the Prophet answers this unexpressed objection and says, that God had a contention with them.
The time of contending is not always: he who does not immediately bring his adversary before the judge, but deals kindly with him, and seeks to obtain amicably from him what is right, does not thereby forego what is justly due to him; but when he finds that the contumacy of his adversary is such that his kind dealing effects nothing, he may then litigate with him. The same thing is now expressed by the Prophet, even that God would now contend with the nations and dispute with all flesh God is indeed, properly speaking, the judge of the world; and there is no arbiter or a judge in heaven or on earth to be found before whom he can dispute; but yet this mode of speaking ought to be especially noticed; for God thus silences all those complaints which men are wont to make against him. Even they who are a hundred times proved guilty, yet complain against God when he severely punishes them, and they say that they are made to suffer more than they deserve. Hence God for this reason says, that when he punishes he does not exercise a tyrannical power, but that he does as it were dispute with sinners. At the same time he sets forth his own goodness by representing the end he has in view; for what he regards in rigidly punishing wickedness, is nothing else than to obtain his own rights; and as he cannot secure these by kind means, he extorts them as it were by the aid of laws. 
Let us then observe, that nothing is detracted from God's power and authority, when it is said, that he disputes or contends with men; but that in this way all those clamors are checked which the ungodly raise against him, as though he raged immoderately against them, and also that thus the end of all punishment is pointed out, even that God condescends to assume the character of an opponent, and proposes nothing else than to require what is reasonable and just, like him who having a cause to try before the judge, would willingly agree beforehand, if possible, with his adversary; but as he sees no hope, he has recourse to that remedy. So God contends with us; for except we were wholly irreclaimable, we might be restored to his favor; and reconciliation would be ready for us, were we only to allow him his rights.
 The terms are legal terms, -- 31. Gone has the sound to the extremity of the earth; For a contention had Jehovah with the nations, Into judgment hath he entered with all flesh; The wicked -- he gave them to the sword, saith Jehovah. The past is evidently used for the future. "The sound" then was to go forth, and for the reasons here assigned, -- God would have a dispute with all, would try the matter as it were by a judicial process, and would give up the condemned, the wicked, to the sword. The object of this representation is very correctly stated by Calvin. -- Ed.