Even people who lived in generations that, seemingly, were not at all sinful or degenerate still express the loneliness of one who longs to transcend his society.
Take, for example, the book of Psalms.
King David lives in neither a physical nor a cultural wilderness.
Nor does he live in a place where everyone is wicked.
But if we turn to chapter 69, we see that he speaks of terrible loneliness – everyone is mocking him, everyone is laughing.
I imagine that a person in David’s situation today, thirsting for spiritual growth, would be admonished by his peers, “There is a limit to the fear of God. Do you think you are better than the local rabbi? Do you think you are better than your friends? Know your place. Why do you have to be better than everyone else?”
This is what creates the sense of loneliness, and this is what David is complaining about.
It is not about persecution but about a feeling of distance from his immediate circle or society.
Even a fundamentally good society is not always interested in having a distinctive, exalted individual in its midst – even if that individual represents godliness and holiness.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz