5. Thou shalt not fear for the terror of the night; for the arrow that flieth by day; 6. For the destruction that walketh in darkness; for the pestilence 577 which wasteth at noon-day. 578 7. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; it shall not come nigh thee. 8. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
5 Thou shalt not fear for the terror of the night. The Psalmist continues to insist upon the truth which I have just adverted to, that, if we confide with implicit reliance upon the protection of God, we will be secure from every temptation and assault of Satan. It is of importance to remember, that those whom God has taken under his care are in a state of the most absolute safety. Even those who have reached the most advanced experience find nothing more difficult than to rely upon Divine deliverance; and more especially when, overtaken by some of the many forms in which danger and death await us in this world, doubts will insinuate themselves into our hearts, giving rise to fear and disquietude. There was reason, therefore, why the Psalmist should enter upon a specification of different evils, encouraging the Lord’s people to look for more than one mode of deliverance, and to bear up under various and accumulated calamities. Mention is made of the fear of the night, because men are naturally apprehensive in the dark, or because the night exposes us to dangers of different kinds, and our fears are apt at such a season to magnify any sound or disturbance. The arrow, rather than another weapon, is instanced as flying by day, for the reason apparently that it shoots to a greater distance, and with such swiftness, that we can with difficulty escape it. The verse which follows states, though in different words, the same truth, that there is no kind of calamity which the shield of the Almighty cannot ward off and repel.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side. 579 He proceeds to show that, though the state of all men may to appearance be alike, the believer has the special privilege of being exempted from evils of an imminent and impending nature; for it might be objected that he was but man, and, as such, exposed with others to death in its thousand different forms. To correct this mistake, the Psalmist does not hesitate to assert that, when universal ruin prevails around, the Lord’s children are the objects of his distinguishing care, and are preserved amidst the general destruction. The lesson is one which is needed by us all, that, though naturally subject to the common evils which are spread around, we are privileged with a special exemption which secures our safety in the midst of dangers. In the verse succeeding more is meant than merely that the believer will have personal experience of the truth which the Psalmist had stated, actually feeling and seeing with his own eyes that God manages his defense; a new argument is brought forward in support of the truth, which is this, that God, as the righteous judge of the world, cannot but punish the wicked according to their sins, and extend protection to his own children. There is much that is dark in the aspect of things in this world, yet the Psalmist hints that, amidst all the confusion which reigns, we may collect from what we see of God’s judgments, that he does not disappoint the expectations of his believing people. He must be considered, however, as addressing those who have eyes to see, who are privileged with the true light of faith, who are fully awake to the consideration of the Divine judgments, and who wait patiently and quietly till the proper time arrive; for most men stagger and confuse their minds upon this subject, by starting to precipitate conclusions, and are prevented from discovering the providence of God by judging according to sense. It becomes us too to be satisfied with apprehending the judgments of God only in some imperfect measure while we remain upon earth, and leaving him to defer the fuller discovery of them to the day of complete revelation.
“Car ceste est la vraye cognoissance, laquelle nous pouvons bailler aux autres de main en main, quand nous mettons en avant ce que Dieu nous a revele, non point des levres taut seulement: mais aussi du profond du coeur.” — Fr.
The original word, which Calvin renders “the pestilence,” is rendered in the Syriac “the blowing wind.” Fry’s version has “the blast.” “The simoon, or hot wind of the desert,” he observes, “a phenomenon in those regions too remarkable to have escaped the divine poet in enumerating the sources of danger to human life.” This wind being hot and burning in its effects, when it blows at noon-day, must be still more fatal.
“Verses 5 and 6. Jos. Scaliger explains, in Epis. 9, these two verses thus: — Thou shalt not fear, מפהר, from consternation by night, מחף, from the arrow flying by day, מדבר, from pestilence walking at evening, מקטב, from devastation at noon Under these four he comprehends all the evils and dangers to which man is liable. And as the Hebrews divide the four and twenty hours of day and night into four parts, namely, evening, midnight, morning, and mid-day, so he understands the hours of danger to be divided accordingly: in a word, ‘that the man, who has made God his refuge,’ is always safe, day and night, at every hour, from every danger.” — Bythner