Psalm 91:6

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 6. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness. It is shrouded in mystery as to its cause and cure, it marches on, unseen of men, slaying with hidden weapons, like an enemy stabbing in the dark, yet those who dwell in God are not afraid of it. Nothing is more alarming than the assassin's plot, for he may at any moment steal in upon a man, and lay him low at a stroke; and such is the plague in the days of its power, none can promise themselves freedom from it for an hour in any place in the infected city; it enters a house men know not how, and its very breath is mortal; yet those choice souls who dwell in God shall live above fear in the most plague stricken places -- they shall not be afraid of the "plagues which in the darkness walk."

Nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. Famine may starve, or bloody war devour, earthquake may overturn and tempest may smite, but amid all, the man who has sought the mercy seat and is sheltered beneath the wings which overshadow it, shall abide in perfect peace. Days of horror and nights of terror are for other men, his days and nights are alike spent with God, and therefore pass away in sacred quiet. His peace is not a thing of times and seasons, it does not rise and set with the sun, nor does it depend upon the healthiness of the atmosphere or the security of the country. Upon the child of the Lord's own heart pestilence has no destroying power, and calamity no wasting influence: pestilence walks in darkness, but he dwells in light; destruction wastes at noonday, but upon him another sun has risen whose beams bring restoration. Remember that the voice which saith "thou shalt not fear" is that of God himself, who hereby pledges his word for the safety of those who abide under his shadow, nay, not for their safety only, but for their serenity. So far shall they be from being injured that they shall not even be made to fear the ills which are around them, since the Lord protects them.

"He, his shadowy plumes outspread.
With his wing shall fence thy head;
And his truth around thee wield,
Strong as targe or bossy shield!
Naught shall strike thee with dismay,
Fear by night, nor shaft by day."

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 6. The pestilence that walketh in darkness; the destruction that wasteth at noonday. The description is equally forcible and correct. The diseases of all hot climates, and especially where vegetation is highly luxuriant, and marshes and miry swamps are abundant, as in the wilderness here referred to, proceed from the accumulating vapours of the night, or from the violence of the sun's rays at midday. The Beriberi of Ceylon, the spasmodic cholera and jungle fever of India, and the greater part of the fevers of intertropical climates, especially that called the yellow fever, chiefly originate from the first of these -- "the pestilence that stalks in darkness"; while sunstrokes or coups de soleil, apoplexies, inflammations of the brain, and liver complaints of most kinds, proceed from the second, "the destruction that wasteth at noonday." And it is in allusion to this double source of mischief that the psalmist exclaims most beautifully on another occasion, Psalms 121:6 : "The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night." And hence the Israelites were miraculously defended against both during their passage through the wilderness by the pillar of a cloud in the daytime, to ward off the solar rays; and by the pillar of fire by night, to dissipate the collecting vapours, and preserve the atmosphere clear, dry, and healthy. J. M. Good.

Verse 6. The putrid plague fever often comes on in the night while the patient is asleep; the solstitial disease seizes in heat of harvest upon a man in open air, and cuts him off, perhaps ere evening. It is safety from perils like these that is spoken of. All these blessings are derived from and rest on ( Psalms 91:1 ) the position of Him that claims them "under the covert of the Most High." Andrew A. Bonar.

Verse 6. The pestilence that walketh in darkness. It walketh not so much in natural darkness, or in the darkness of the night, as in a figurative darkness, no man knowing where it walks, or whither it will walk, in the clearest light, whether to the poor man's house, or to the rich man's house, whether to the dwelling of the plebeian, or of the prince, till it hath left its own mark, and given a deadly stroke. Joseph Caryl.