For the director of music. A psalm of David.
Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them –
they are counted among the blessed in the land –
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
The Lord sustains them on their sick-bed
and restores them from their bed of illness.
I said, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.’
My enemies say of me in malice,
‘When will he die and his name perish?’
When one of them comes to see me,
he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
then he goes out and spreads it around.
All my enemies whisper together against me;
they imagine the worst for me, saying,
‘A vile disease has afflicted him;
he will never get up from the place where he lies.’
Even my close friend,
someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
has turned against me.
But may you have mercy on me, Lord;
raise me up, that I may repay them.
I know that you are pleased with me,
for my enemy does not triumph over me.
Because of my integrity you uphold me
and set me in your presence for ever.
Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,(Ps. 41:1-13 NIV)
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.
This Psalm is the last Psalm of Book One of the Psalms. Psalm 1 began with ‘Blessed’ so the book closes with a Psalm beginning ‘Blessed’. The Psalmist finds himself weak, slandered by malicious enemies, surrounded by false friends, and even betrayed by one of his close friends, whom he had trusted. The Psalmist is also acutely aware of his sin.
The Psalmist had shown mercy to others when they were sick and in need. Now that the Psalmist is sick and in need of support he is shown no mercy by those to whom he showed kindness. Those who show regard and mercy can expect to find mercy from the Lord. This reminds us of the responsibility to show active consideration to the needs of others, if we are to expect to find help in our time of need. It is not that we are ever worthy to receive help, but the Lord promises to show regard for us if we show regard to others. The sick person can expect God’s support but there is no guarantee of healing.
The covenant promise in the OT was protection from harm, blessings of a long life in the promised land.
The Psalmist confesses his sin and prays for healing. There is no suggestion that the sickness has been caused by his sin. As the Psalmist prays for physical healing, he is also aware of the need for spiritual healing. His enemies draw pleasure from the Psalmist’s illness. They are wishing for his death. The enemy is ever present looming like a dark shadow. Their attitude is of hatred, bitterness and malice. Some of the enemy come to see him with false sympathy. They speak many nice words but all false. In their expression of sympathy they are merely there trying to gather information, so that they can slander the Psalmist as they spread their slander to others.
As the Psalmist lies ill he can picture the enemy whispering together against him, speculating with great pleasure, imagining what ailment he might have and hoping that he will never rise from the bed. A casual look at social media today will show that that kind of hatred is prevalent in our society. As rumours circulate the worst possible thing that can happen is that your friends begin to believe these rumours about you. When a friend turns on the Psalmist it is a very bitter blow. The Lord Jesus quoted this verse (v9) with regard to the betrayal of Judas.
Again the Psalmist pleads for mercy that he will be raised up so that he can repay his enemies. This is not a vindictive attitude, rather he wants the Lord to vindicate him. As weak as the Psalmist physically feels, he is spiritually strong with a great confidence in God. He knows that because of the Lord the enemy will not triumph over him. The delight of the Psalmist is in the presence of the Lord.
V13 is not just an end to the Psalm, it is a fitting end to Book 1. It calls for us to look back on what has been revealed concerning the eternal God and then worship the Lord. Amen and amen!
Lord God we thank You for every revelation of Your covenant love to us. Thank You for showing us the difference that Your presence makes. We thank You that we have been able to walk alongside the Psalmist and enjoy Your presence. Lord we worship You, the one true God in Jesus name. Amen and amen!