2 Samuel 22:5
tn The noun בְלִיַּעַל (béliyya’al) is used here as an epithet for death. Elsewhere it is a common noun meaning “wickedness, uselessness” (see HALOT 133–34 s.v. בְּלִיַּעַל). It is often associated with rebellion against authority and other crimes that result in societal disorder and anarchy. The phrase “man/son of wickedness” refers to one who opposes God and the order he has established. The term becomes an appropriate title for death, which, through human forces, launches an attack against God’s chosen servant.
tn In this poetic narrative context the prefixed verbal form is best understood as a preterite indicating past tense, not an imperfect. (Note the perfect verbal form in the parallel/preceding line.) The verb בָּעַת (ba’at) sometimes by metonymy carries the nuance “frighten,” but the parallelism (note “engulfed” in the preceding line) favors the meaning “overwhelm” here.