Psalm 91:6
Nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Darkness . . . noonday.—Night and noon are, in Oriental climates, the most unwholesome, the former from exhalations, the latter from the fierce heat.

Destruction.—From a root meaning “to cut off;” here, from parallelism, “deadly sickness.”

91:1-8 He that by faith chooses God for his protector, shall find all in him that he needs or can desire. And those who have found the comfort of making the Lord their refuge, cannot but desire that others may do so. The spiritual life is protected by Divine grace from the temptations of Satan, which are as the snares of the fowler, and from the contagion of sin, which is a noisome pestilence. Great security is promised to believers in the midst of danger. Wisdom shall keep them from being afraid without cause, and faith shall keep them from being unduly afraid. Whatever is done, our heavenly Father's will is done; and we have no reason to fear. God's people shall see, not only God's promises fulfilled, but his threatenings. Then let sinners come unto the Lord upon his mercy-seat, through the Redeemer's name; and encourage others to trust in him also.Nor for the pestilence - The plague or pestilence was common in Oriental countries.

That walketh in darkness - Not that it particularly comes in the night, but that it seems to creep along as if in the night; that is, where one cannot mark its progress, or anticipate when or whom it will strike. The laws of its movements are unknown, and it comes upon people as an enemy that suddenly attacks us in the night.

Nor for the destruction - The word used here - קטב qeṭeb - means properly a cutting off, a destruction, as a destroying storm, Isaiah 28:2; and then, contagious pestilence, Deuteronomy 32:24. It may be applied here to anything that sweeps away people - whether storm, war, pestilence, or famine.

That wasteth at noonday - It lays waste, or produces desolation, at noon; that is, visibly, openly. The meaning is, that whenever, or in whatever form, calamity comes which sweeps away the race - whether at midnight or at noon - whether in the form of pestilence, war, or famine - he who trusts in God need not - will not - be afraid. He will feel either that he will be preserved from its ravages, or that if he is cut off he has nothing to fear. He is a friend of God, and he has a hope of a better life. In death, and in the future world, there is nothing of which he should be afraid. The Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate render this, strangely enough, "Nor of mischance and the demon of noonday."

5. terror—or, what causes it (Pr 20:2).

by night—then aggravated.

arrow—that is, of enemies.

This verse explains the former, and showeth what that terror and arrow signifies.

That walketh; that spreadeth, or maketh progress.

In darkness; either invisibly, so as we can neither foresee nor prevent it; or rather, by night, as Psalm 91:5.

That wasteth at noon-day; that like a bold enemy assaults us openly, and though discovered cannot be resisted. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness,.... Some think, and not without cause, that what is figuratively expressed in the preceding verse is here explained; and, indeed, the "pestilence" may well be called the "terror by night": the name of the plague, at a distance, is terrible; the near approach of it is more so; when it enters a country, city, or town, what fleeing is there from it? and in the night season it is more dreadful than in the day; not only to think of it in the gloomy watches of the night, but to see the vast numbers carried out to be interred, and to hear the dismal cry, Bring out your dead: and so it is here said to "walk in darkness"; in the darkness of the night, or to arise from dark and unknown causes; when it moves and walks through cities, towns, and villages, and there is no stopping it: and this also may be the "arrow that flieth by day"; which flies as swift as an arrow, and that flies as swift as a bird (r); this is taken out of the Lord's quiver, has its commission and direction from him, and does execution by night and by day: the plague that smote the firstborn in Egypt was in the night; and that which was in David's time, and might be the occasion of penning this psalm, began in the day, Exodus 12:29,

nor for the destruction that wasteth at noon day; as the pestilence, which may be increased, and rage the more, through the heat of the day; and which destroys great numbers wherever it comes: seventy thousand were taken off in three days by the plague occasioned by David's numbering of the people: the Targum is,

"of a company of devils that destroy at noon day;''

that is, thou shall not be afraid: some think respect is had to a pestilential hot wind, common in the eastern countries, which begins to blow about eight o'clock in a morning, and is hottest at noon; which instantly suffocates persons, burns them, and reduces them to ashes presently, which the Arabs call "sammiel", or a poison wind (s).

(r) "Voluces sagittae", Virgil. Aeneid. 12. "volante sagitta", Ovid. Trist. eleg. 10. (s) Vide Thevenot's Travels, par. 2. sect. 1. c. 12. p. 54. & l. 3. c. 8. p. 135.

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. Plague and Pestilence are personified as destroying angels. Cp. Isaiah 37:36.Verse 6. - Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness. The plague god is personified and represented as stalking through the land in the hours of darkness. Parallels have been found in the literature of the Babylonians (see 'Babylonian and Oriental Record,' vol. 1, p. 12) and elsewhere. Nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. The rare word, קטב, translated "destruction" here and in Deuteronomy 32:24, is rendered by the LXX. διαμόνιον, and the entire phrase, "for the destruction that wasteth at noonday" becomes ἀπὸ συμπτώματος καὶ δαιμονίου μεσημβρινοῦ - "from ruin and the demon of the midday" - by which sunstroke would seem to be meant (comp. Psalm 121:6, "The sun shall not smite thee by day"). The prayer for a salutary knowledge, or discernment, of the appointment of divine wrath is now followed by the prayer for the return of favour, and the wish that God would carry out His work of salvation and bless Israel's undertakings to that end. We here recognise the well-known language of prayer of Moses in Exodus 32:12, according to which שׁוּבה is not intended as a prayer for God's return to Israel, but for the turning away of His anger; and the sigh עד־מתי that is blended with its asks how long this being angry, which threatens to blot Israel out, is still to last. והנּהם is explained according to this same parallel passage: May God feel remorse or sorrow (which in this case coincide) concerning His servants, i.e., concerning the affliction appointed to them. The naming of the church by עבדיך (as in Deuteronomy 9:27, cf. Exodus 32:13 of the patriarchs) reminds one of Deuteronomy 32:36 : concerning His servants He shall feel compassion (Hithpa. instead of the Niphal). The prayer for the turning of wrath is followed in Psalm 90:14 by the prayer for the turning towards them of favour. In בּבּקר there lies the thought that it has been night hitherto in Israel. "Morning" is therefore the beginning of a new season of favour. In שׂבּענוּ (to which הסדּך is a second accusative of the object) is implied the thought that Israel whilst under wrath has been hungering after favour; cf. the adjective שׂבע in the same tropical signification in Deuteronomy 33:23. The supplicatory imperatives are followed by two moods expressive of intention: then will we, or: in order that we may rejoice and be glad; for futures like these set forth the intention of attaining something as a result or aim of what has been expressed just before: Ew. 325, a. בּכל־ימינוּ is not governed by the verbs of rejoicing (Psalm 118:24), in which case it would have been בּחיּינוּ, but is an adverbial definition of time (Psalm 145:2; Psalm 35:8): within the term of life allotted to us. We see from Psalm 90:15 that the season of affliction has already lasted for a long time. The duration of the forty years of wrath, which in the midst of their course seemed to them as an eternity, is made the measure of the reviving again that is earnestly sought. The plural ימות instead of ימי is common only to our Psalm and Deuteronomy 32:7; it is not known elsewhere to Biblical Hebrew. And the poetical שׁנות instead of שׁני, which also occurs elsewhere, appears for the first time in Deuteronomy 32:7. The meaning of ענּיתנוּ, in which ימות hcihw is specialized after the manner of a genitive, is explained from Deuteronomy 8:2., according to which the forty years' wandering in the wilderness was designed to humble (ענּות) and to prove Israel through suffering. At the close of these forty years Israel stands on the threshold of the Promise Land. To Israel all final hopes were closely united with the taking possession of this land. We learn from Genesis 49 that it is the horizon of Jacob's prophetic benediction. This Psalm too, in Psalm 90:16-17, terminates in the prayer for the attainment of this goal. The psalmist has begun in Psalm 90:1 his adoration with the majestic divine name אדני; in Psalm 90:13 he began his prayer with the gracious divine name יהוה; and now, where he mentions God for the third time, he gives to Him the twofold name, so full of faith, אדני אלהינוּ. אל used once alternates with the thrice repeated על: salvation is not Israel's own work, but the work of Jahve; it therefore comes from above, it comes and meets Israel. It is worthy of remark that the noun פּעל occurs only in Deuteronomy in the whole Tra, and that here also of the gracious rule of Jahve, Psalm 32:4, cf. Psalm 33:11. The church calls the work of the Lord מעשׂה ידינוּ in so far as He executes it through them. This expression מעשׂה ידים as a designation of human undertakings runs through the whole of the Book of Deuteronomy: Deuteronomy 2:7; Deuteronomy 4:28; Deuteronomy 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 16:15; Deuteronomy 24:19; Deuteronomy 27:15; Deuteronomy 28:12; Deuteronomy 30:9. In the work of the Lord the bright side of His glory unveils itself, hence it is called הדר; this too is a word not alien at least to the language of Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy 33:17. Therein is made manifest נעם ה, His graciousness and condescension - an expression which David has borrowed from Moses in Psalm 27:4. יראה and יהי are optatives. כּוננה is an urgent request, imperat. obsecrantis as the old expositors say. With Waw the same thought is expressed over again (cf. Isaiah 55:1, וּלכוּ, yea come) - a simple, childlike anadiplosis which vividly reminds us of the Book of Deuteronomy, which revolves in thoughts that are ever the same, and by that very means speaks deeply to the heart. Thus the Deuteronomic impression of this Psalm accompanies us from beginning to end, from מעון to מעשׂה ידים. Nor will it now be merely accidental that the fondness for comparisons, which is a peculiarity of the Book of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 1:31, Deuteronomy 1:44; Deuteronomy 8:5; Deuteronomy 28:29, Deuteronomy 28:49, cf. Deuteronomy 28:13, Deuteronomy 28:44; Deuteronomy 29:17-18), is found again in this Psalm.
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