Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Psalms 119:53

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Horror hath taken hold upon me - The word זלעפה zilaphah, which we render horror, is thought to signify the pestilential burning wind called by the Arabs simoom. Here it strongly marks the idea that the psalmist had of the destructive nature of sin; it is pestilential; it is corrupting, mortal.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Horror hath taken hold upon me - Has seized me; has overpowered and overwhelmed me. I shudder; I tremble; I am afraid; I am filled with distress. Luther, “I am burnt up.” The Hebrew word - זלעפה zal‛âphâh - is from a verb meaning “to be hot; to glow”; and the idea in the word is that of violent heat; then, a glow or burning, as of a wind - the “simoom” of the desert. See Psalm 11:6, where the word is translated “horrible tempest,” in the margin, “burning.” The word occurs only in that passage, in the one before us, and in Lamentations 5:10, where it is rendered “terrible (famine),” in the margin, “terrors,” or “storms.” The state referred to here is that of one who sees the storm of burning wind and sand approaching; who expects every moment to be overcome and buried; whose soul trembles with consternation.

Because of the wicked … - Their conduct alarms me. Their danger appals me. Their condition overwhelms me. I see them rebelling against God. I see them exposed to his wrath. I see the grave just before them, and the awful scenes of judgment near. I see them about to be cast off, and to sink to endless woe, and my soul is transfixed with horror. The contemplation overwhelms me with uncontrollable anguish. Can such things be? Can people be thus in danger? And can they be calm and composed, when so near such awful horrors? No man can look on the world of despair without horror; no one can truly realize that his fellow-men are exposed to the horrors of that abode without having his soul filled with anguish. Strange that all people do not feel thus - that impenitent people can walk along on the verge of the grave and of hell “without” horror - that pious people, good people, praying people, can look upon their friends in that condition without having their souls filled with unutterable anguish. Compare Psalm 119:136; Romans 9:1-4; Luke 19:41.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Those that make God's promises their portion, may with humble boldness make them their plea. He that by his Spirit works faith in us, will work for us. The word of God speaks comfort in affliction. If, through grace, it makes us holy, there is enough in it to make us easy, in all conditions. Let us be certain we have the Divine law for what we believe, and then let not scoffers prevail upon us to decline from it. God's judgments of old comfort and encourage us, for he is still the same. Sin is horrible in the eyes of all that are sanctified. Ere long the believer will be absent from the body, and present with the Lord. In the mean time, the statutes of the Lord supply subjects for grateful praise. In the season of affliction, and in the silent hours of the night, he remembers the name of the Lord, and is stirred up to keep the law. All who have made religion the first thing, will own that they have been unspeakable gainers by it.
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1100

Yet Paul comes as near to expressing it as he can, that the imagination may grasp the reality as far as is possible to finite minds. It was a weight of glory, a fullness of God, knowledge that was measureless. It was an eternal weight of glory. And yet Paul feels that his language is tame. It falls short of expressing the reality. He reaches out for words more expressive. The boldest figures of speech would fall far short of the truth. He seeks the broadest terms which human language can supply, that the imagination may grasp in some degree the superlative excellency of the glory to be given the final overcomer. 6BC 1100.1

Holiness, dignity, honor, and felicity in the presence of God are things now unseen except by the eye of faith. But the things which are seen, worldly honor, worldly pleasure, riches, and glory, are eclipsed by the excellency, the beauty, and resplendent glory of the things now unseen. The things of this world are temporal, enduring only for a time, while the things which are not seen are eternal, enduring through endless ages. To secure this infinite treasure is to gain everything and lose nothing (Manuscript 58, 1900). 6BC 1100.2

18 (Colossians 3:2; Hebrews 11:27; see EGW on 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18). Seeing Him Who Is Invisible—Our minds take the level of the things on which our thoughts dwell, and if we think upon earthly things, we shall fail to take the impress of that which is heavenly. We would be greatly benefited by contemplating the mercy, goodness, and love of God; but we sustain great loss by dwelling upon those things which are earthly and temporal. We allow sorrow and care and perplexity to attract our minds to earth, and we magnify a molehill into a mountain.... 6BC 1100.3

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