Wo to them that devise iniquity - Who lay schemes and plans for transgressions; who make it their study to find out new modes of sinning; and make these things their nocturnal meditations, that, having fixed their plan, they may begin to execute it as soon as it is light in the morning.
Because it is in the power of their hand - They think they may do whatever they have power and opportunity to do.
The prophet had declared that evil should come down on Samaria and Jerusalem for their sins. He had pronounced them sinners against God; he now speaks of their hard unlovingness toward man, as our Blessed Lord in the Gospel speaks of sins against Himself in His members, as the ground of the condemnation of the wicked. The time of warning is past. He speaks as in the person of the Judge, declaring the righteous judgments of God, pronouncing sentence on the hardened, but blessing on those who follow Christ. The sins thus visited were done with a high hand; first, with forethought:
Woe - All woe, woe from God; “the woe of temporal captivity; and, unless ye repent, the woe of eternal damnation, hangeth over you.” Woe to them that devise iniquity. They devise it, “they are not led into it by others, but invent it out of their own hearts.” They plot and forecast and fulfill it even in thought, before it comes to act. And work evil upon their beds. Thoughts and imaginations of evil are works of the soul Psalm 58:2. “Upon their beds” (see Psalm 36:4), which ought to be the place of holy thought, and of communing with their own hearts and with God Psalm 4:4. Stillness must be filled with thought, good or bad; if not with good, then with bad. The chamber, if not the sanctuary of holy thoughts, is filled with unholy purposes and imaginations. Man‘s last and first thoughts, if not of good, are especially of vanity and evil. The Psalmist says, “Lord, have I not remembered Thee in my bed, and thought upon Thee when I was waking?” Psalm 63:6. These men thought of sin on their bed, and did it on waking. When the morning is light, literally in the light of the morning, that is, instantly, shamelessly, not shrinking from the light of day, not ignorantly, but knowingly, deliberately, in full light. Nor again through infirmity, but in the wantonness of might, because it is in the power of their hand, as, of old, God said, “This they begin to do, and now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do” Genesis 11:6. Rup.: “Impiously mighty, and mighty in impiety.”
Lap.: See the need of the daily prayer, “Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin;” and “Almighty God, who hast brought us to the beginning of this day, defend us in the same by Thy mighty power, that we may fall into no sin, etc.” The illusions of the night, if such be permitted, have no power against the prayer of the morning.