Micah 2:1
Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil on their beds! when the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
II.

(1) Woe to them that devise.—The prophet proceeds to denounce the sins for which the country was to receive condign punishment at the hands of God. There is a gradation in the terms employed: they mark the deliberate character of the acts: there were no extenuating circumstances. In the night they formed the plan, they thought it out upon their beds, and carried it out into execution in the morning. So also the gradually increasing intercourse with the wicked is described, as reaching its culmination, in the first Psalm: Walking with the ungodly leads to standing among sinners, and at last sitting habitually in the seat of the scornful.

Micah 2:1-2. Wo to them that devise iniquity — That design and frame mischief; and work evil upon their beds — Contrive how to work it, and actually execute their plans when they rise in the morning. Because it is in the power of their hand — Because they can do it; because there is none that can hinder them. They make their strength the law of justice; and do whatsoever they have a mind to do, whether right or wrong, because they have power in their hands. And they covet fields — Set their minds upon the estates of their meaner neighbours, thinking how convenient they lie to theirs, as Ahab thought concerning the field of Naboth. And take them by violence — By power wrest the estates out of the hands of the owners of them. And houses, and take them away — They take both houses and lands. So they oppress a man and his house — They not only do injustice to a man himself, but to his whole family also, by taking away his heritage, whereby his family, as well as himself, and his posterity after him, were to be supported.2:1-5 Woe to the people that devise evil during the night, and rise early to carry it into execution! It is bad to do mischief on a sudden thought, much worse to do it with design and forethought. It is of great moment to improve and employ hours of retirement and solitude in a proper manner. If covetousness reigns in the heart, compassion is banished; and when the heart is thus engaged, violence and fraud commonly occupy the hands. The most haughty and secure in prosperity, are commonly most ready to despair in adversity. Woe to those from whom God turns away! Those are the sorest calamities which cut us off from the congregation of the Lord, or cut us short in the enjoyment of its privileges.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.

CHAPTER 2

Mic 2:1-13. Denunciation of the Evils Prevalent: The People's Unwillingness to Hear the Truth: Their Expulsion From the Land the Fitting Fruit of Their Sin: Yet Judah and Israel Are Hereafter to Be Restored.

1. devise … work … practise—They do evil not merely on a sudden impulse, but with deliberate design. As in the former chapter sins against the first table are reproved, so in this chapter sins against the second table. A gradation: "devise" is the conception of the evil purpose; "work" (Ps 58:2), or "fabricate," the maturing of the scheme; "practise," or "effect," the execution of it.

because it is in the power of their hand—for the phrase see Ge 31:29; Pr 3:27. Might, not right, is what regulates their conduct. Where they can, they commit oppression; where they do not, it is because they cannot.God’s judgment against oppression, Micah 2:1-3. A lamentation for the removal of his people, Micah 2:4-6. A reproof for their injustice and delight in false prophets, Micah 2:7-11. A promise of restoration, Micah 2:12,13.

The prophet now denounceth judgment against oppressors in particular, of which sort of men Judah had too many, and Israel had many more at that day.

That devise iniquity; contrive and frame mischiefs to others, how they may be ruined, as appears Micah 2:2, and all the gain that can be made of their fall may be brought into the hand of the contrivers; which was the sin of the great ones in Israel, who for near forty years together were plotting to undo one another. And work evil: here is a dislocation of the words, unless the prophet would intimate to us, that in God’s account the resolving to do evil is doing it.

Upon their beds; when they should rest from making trouble to others, as well as rest from their labour and troubles of the day, when they should praise God for their own ease, safety, and rest, then their inhumanity and cruelty is forecasting how to grieve, vex, and swallow up others.

When the morning is light; so soon as they rise, and that is early; when such practices are in design, these cannot sleep till they make them fall on whom they fix their designs.

They practise it; finish or execute their mischievous purposes. Because it is in the power of their hand; they care not whether there be either justice or reason for what they do; if they have power enough to do, they will take confidence to do it, and never blush.

Woe to them that devise iniquity,.... Any kind of iniquity; idolatry, or worshipping of idols, for the word is used sometimes for an idol; or the sin of uncleanness, on which the thoughts too often dwell in the night season; or coveting of neighbours' goods, and oppressing the poor; sins which are instanced in Micah 2:2; and every thing that is vain, foolish, and wicked, and in the issue brings trouble and distress: now a woe is denounced against such that think on such things, and please themselves with them in their imaginations, and contrive ways and means to commit them:

and work evil upon their beds; when, the senses being less engaged, the thoughts are more free; but should not be employed about evil; but either in meditating on the divine goodness, and praising the Lord for his mercies; or in examining a man's heart, state, and case, and mourning over his sins, and applying to God for the remission of them; but, instead of this, the persons here threatened are said to "work evil on their beds", when they should be asleep and at rest, or engaged in the above things; that is, they plot and contrive how to accomplish the evil they meditate; they determine upon doing it, and are as sure of effecting it as if it was actually done; and do act it over in their own minds, as if it was real; see Psalm 36:4;

when the morning is light, they practise it; they wish and wait for the morning light, and as soon as it appears they rise; and, instead of blessing God for the mercies of the night, and going about their lawful business, they endeavour to put in practice with all rigour and diligence, and as expeditiously as they can, what they have projected and schemed in the night season;

because it is in the power of their hand; to commit it; and they have no principle of goodness in them, nor fear of God before them, to restrain them from it: or, "because their hand is unto power" (b); it is stretched out, and made use of in the commission of sin to the utmost of their power, without any regard to God or man. The Vulgate Latin version is, "because their hand is against God"; their hearts are enmity to God, and therefore they oppose him with both their hands, and care not what iniquity they commit; they are rebels against him, and will not be subject to him. The Septuagint and Arabic versions are, "because they lift not up their hands to God"; they do not pray to him, and therefore are bold and daring to perpetrate the grossest iniquity, which a praying man dared not do; but the Syriac version is the reverse, "they do lift up their hands to God"; make a show of religion and devotion, when their hearts and their hands are deeply engaged in, sinning; which shows their impudence and hypocrisy; but the passages in Genesis 31:29 favour and confirm our version, and the sense of it; so the Targum.

(b) "quia est ad potentiam manus ipsorum", Calvin.

Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! {a} when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.

(a) As soon as they rise, they execute their wicked devices of the night, and according to their ability hurt others.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1–5. Sin and its corresponding Punishment

1. and work evil] To ‘work,’ as distinguished from ‘devise’ and to ‘practise’ or ‘execute,’ is to prepare ways and means (see Isaiah 41:4). Obs., it is no mere act of thoughtlessness, or passionate impulse, which is here denounced, but a set purpose of dispossessing the small proprietors.

upon their beds] The natural place for reflexion, whether in a bad sense (as here and Psalm 36:4), or in a good (as Psalm 63:6).

it is in the power of their hand] A doubt as to the meaning has arisen from the fact that the word el here rendered ‘power’ is more commonly used for ‘god.’ But Lagarde has shewn that the root meaning of el is ‘that to which one reaches out.’ Comp. Acts 17:27.Verses 1-5. ? § 6. The prophet justifies his threat by recounting the sins of which the grandees and guilty. Verse 1. - The prophet, himself one of the people, first inveighs against the sins of injustice and oppression of the poor. Devise... work... practise. A gradation. They are not led into these sins by others; they themselves conceive the evil purpose in their own heart; then they prepare and mature their scheme by reflection; then they proceed to execute it. Work evil; i.e. prepare the means for carrying out their conception (comp Isaiah 41:4). Upon their beds. At night, the natural time for reflection (comp. Job 4:13; Psalm 4:4; Psalm 36:4). Is light. Far from shrinking from the light of day in putting into effect their evil projects, they set about their accomplishment as soon as ever the morning allows them. Because it is in the power of their hand. Their might makes their right. (For the phrase, comp. Genesis 31:29; Proverbs 3:27.) As the word el may be taken to mean "God" as well as "power," some render here, "For their hand is their god," comparing the boast of Mezentius in Virgil, 'AEneid,' 10:773 -

"Dextra mihi Deus et telum quod missile libro." The Vulgate has, Quoniam contra Deum est manus eorum; LXX., Διότιοὐκ η΅ραν πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν χεῖρας αὐτῶν, Because they lifted not up their hands unto God." So the Syriac, with the omission of the negative. This threatening judgment will not be averted by the Israelites, even by their feasts and sacrifices (Amos 5:21, Amos 5:22). The Lord has no pleasure in the feasts which they celebrate. Their outward, heartless worship, does not make them into the people of God, who can count upon His grace. Amos 5:21. "I hate, I despise your feasts, and do not like to smell your holy days. Amos 5:22. For if ye offer me burnt-offerings, and your meat-offerings, I have no pleasure therein; and the thank-offering of your fatted calves I do not regard. Amos 5:23. Put away from me the noise of thy songs; and I do not like to hear the playing of thy harps. Amos 5:24. And let judgment roll like water, and righteousness like an inexhaustible stream." By the rejection of the opus operatum of the feasts and sacrifices, the roots are cut away from the false reliance of the Israelites upon their connection with the people of God. The combination of the words שׂנאתי מאסתּי expresses in the strongest terms the dislike of God to the feasts of those who were at enmity with Him. Chaggı̄m are the great annual feasts; ‛ătsârōth, the meetings for worship at those feasts, inasmuch as a holy meeting took place at the ‛ătsereth of the feast of Passover and feast of Tabernacles (see at Leviticus 23:36). Rı̄ăch, to smell, is an expression of satisfaction, with an allusion to the ריח ניחוח, which ascended to God from the burning sacrifice (see Leviticus 26:31). Kı̄, in Amos 5:22, is explanatory: "for," not "yea." The observance of the feast culminated in the sacrificers. God did not like the feasts, because He had no pleasure in the sacrifices. In Amos 5:23 the two kinds of sacrifice, ‛ōlâh and minchâh, are divided between the protasis and apodosis, which gives rise to a certain incongruity. The sentences, if written fully, would read thus: When ye offer me burnt-offerings and meat-offerings, I have no pleasure in your burnt-offerings and meat-offerings. To these two kinds the shelem, the health-offering or peace-offering, is added as a third class in Amos 5:22. מריאים, fattened things, generally mentioned along with bâqâr as one particular species, for fattened calves (see Isaiah 1:11). In הסר (Amos 5:23) Israel is addressed as a whole. המון שׁריך, the noise of thy songs, answers to the strong expression הסר. The singing of their psalms is nothing more to God than a wearisome noise, which is to be brought to an end. Singing and playing upon harps formed part of the temple worship (vid., 1 Chronicles 16:40; 1 Chronicles 23:5, and 1 Chronicles 23:25). Isaiah (Isaiah 1:11.) also refuses the heartless sacrifice and worship of the people, who have fallen away from God in their hearts. It is very clear from the sentence which Amos pronounces here, that the worship at Bethel was an imitation of the temple service at Jerusalem. If, therefore, with Amos 6:1 in view, where the careless upon Mount Zion and in Samaria are addressed, we are warranted in assuming that here also the prophet has the worship in Judah in his mind as well; the words apply primarily and chiefly to the worship of the kingdom of the ten tribes, and therefore even in that case they prove that, with regard to ritual, it was based upon the model of the temple service at Jerusalem. Because the Lord has no pleasure in this hypocritical worship, the judgment shall pour like a flood over the land. The meaning of Amos 5:24 is not, "Let justice and righteousness take the place of your sacrifices." Mishpât is not the justice to be practised by men; for "although Jehovah might promise that He would create righteousness in the nation, so that it would fill the land as it were like a flood (Isaiah 11:9), He only demands righteousness generally, and not actually in floods" (Hitzig). Still less can mishpât ūtsedâqâh be understood as relating to the righteousness of the gospel which Christ has revealed. This thought is a very far-fetched one here, and is only founded upon the rendering given to ויגּל, et revelabitur (Targ., Jerome, equals ויגּל), whereas יגּל comes from גּלל, to roll, to roll along. The verse is to be explained according to Isaiah 10:22, and threatens the flooding of the land with judgment and the punitive righteousness of God (Theod. Mops., Theodoret, Cyr., Kimchi, and others).
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