16 For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.
17 For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.
18 I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.
God explains here that if He would contend with man in anger very long the human frame could not stand up to it–a person’s powers would fail and his strength decay, his spirit sinking into destruction. For this reason, God dealt lightly with Israel; He was angry with Israel (Jacob) for his covetousness, smote him, and permitted him to go forward in the way of his own heart while He, Himself went into retirement. He now promised to heal Judah, lead him, and restore comforts to him and to those who were godly and mourned for the nation.
I was confused about this passage until I realized that God was talking about the original Israel, the man Jacob, who contended with God and was left with a lame hip to remind him that he had lost that battle. All of my sources were in agreement on that, so I’m confident to present it to you. Makes sense, doesn’t it? The sin, covetousness, and willfulness of one man was passed onto his sons and all his descendants. Our sin nature is a fact of life. We are foolish to pretend it doesn’t exist.