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Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked,

those who forsake your law.

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53. Terror seized me 418418     The Hebrew word here used for terror is זלעפה, zalaphah, and is supposed to refer to the blasting or scorching wind, called the Simoom, well known to the Eastern nations. Accordingly, Michaelis reads, “A deadly East wind seizes me.” Cocceius reads, “Horror, as a tempest, has seized upon me.” “The sacred writer,” says he, “represents the vehement commotion of his mind as resembling a violent commotion in the air.” According to Dimock, זלעפה denotes, in this place, the burning fever which the pestilential winds in the East occasioned. The word occurs only three times in Scripture; here, in Psalm 11:7, and in Lamentations 5:10. Our translators have rendered it, in Psalm 11:7, by storm, and in Lamentations 5:10, in the margin, plurally by terrors or storms. See volume 1, page 168, note. This verse may be understood in two senses; either that the prophet was grievously afflicted when he saw God’s law violated by the wicked, or that he was horror-struck at the thought of their perdition. Some would render it ardor, which does not so properly agree with the nature of the passage; I therefore abide by the term fear, by which I think his ardent zeal is pointed out, in that he was not only deeply grieved at the transgressions of the law, but held in the utmost detestation the impious boldness of those who lightly esteemed the law of God. At the same time, it is worthy of notice, that it is no new ground of offense to the faithful, if numbers throw off God’s yoke, and set up the standard of rebellion against him. This, I repeat, must be attended to, because many derive flimsy and frivolous pretexts for it, from the degeneracy of the age, as if they must needs howl while they live among wolves. In the days of David, we see there were many who apostatized from the faith, and yet, so far was he from being discouraged or dismayed by these things, that the fear of God rather kindled a holy indignation in his bosom. What is to be done, then, when surrounded by bad examples, but that we should vie with each other in holding them up to detestation? And here a contrast, if not directly stated, is implied, between the flattering unction which we apply to ourselves, believing that all is lawful which is common, and the horror with which the prophet tells us he was seized. If the wicked, haughtily and without restraint, set themselves in opposition to God, in consequence of our not being alive to his judgments, we convert that into an occasion of perverse confidence and insensibility. On the contrary, the prophet asserts that he was seized with horror, because, though he considered the long-suffering of God, on the one hand, yet, on the other, he was fully persuaded that he must, sooner or later, call for condign punishment.