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 F18; 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 Exodus 12:30 ) ( 2 Samuel 24:15 ) ,
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 F19.
F18 "Voluces sagittae", Virgil. Aeneid. 12. "volante sagitta", Ovid. Trist. eleg. 10.
F19 Vide Thevenot's Travels, par. 2. sect. 1. c. 12. p. 54. & l. 3. c. 8. p. 135.