“terror.” Proverbs 3:25 contains the figure of speech, amphibologia, or double entendre. The literal reading, “do not be afraid of sudden terror (or “sudden dread”) refers to the fact that many people experience occasions when they are suddenly gripped by fear, sometimes even for no apparent reason. We are not to be afraid of those times, but work through those times and deal with them. God is always our strength and protection.
Also in this verse, the word “terror” is used by metonymy for “that which causes terror,” that is, disaster or calamity. Thus, Proverbs 3:25 also means, “do not be afraid of sudden disasters.” In fact, translators feel that is the primary meaning here, even though it is not the literal reading of the Hebrew text (cp. HCSB; NET; NIV). We live in a fallen world and the Devil is the god of the age (2 Cor. 4:4) so there will always be disasters that strike suddenly. There is no value in walking around in fear of what might or could happen, even though sudden and unexpected disasters happen all the time. The wise person does his best to prepare for sudden disasters, but in the end takes comfort from the fact that every human is mortal and, unless the Lord returns and the Rapture occurs, everyone will die at some point. The only real protection in this life is salvation through Jesus Christ and the guarantee of living forever.
[For more on preparation for times of trouble and how Jesus taught us to prepare, see commentary on Luke 22:36.]
“the devastation of the wicked when it comes.” The wicked will be destroyed, if not in this life, in the next. However, the force of this Proverb is that generally, devastation, or some form of it, will happen to wicked people in this life. In any case, the person who has walked with Wisdom and is saved should not be afraid when the wicked are destroyed.