Psalm 41:1-13

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

Blessed is he who considers the poor;
The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.

The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive,
And he will be blessed on the earth;
You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.

The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness;
You will sustain him on his sickbed.

I said, “Lord, be merciful to me;
Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”

My enemies speak evil of me:
“When will he die, and his name perish?”

And if he comes to see me, he speaks lies;
His heart gathers iniquity to itself;
When he goes out, he tells it.

All who hate me whisper together against me;
Against me they devise my hurt.

“An evil disease,” they say, “clings to him.
And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.”

Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.

10 But You, O Lord, be merciful to me, and raise me up,
That I may repay them.

11 By this I know that You are well pleased with me,
Because my enemy does not triumph over me.

12 As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,
And set me before Your face forever.

13 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel
From everlasting to everlasting!
Amen and Amen.

David concludes this first of the five “books” of Psalms in the same way that he began it — with specific reference to individual blessing (“How blessed” — lit., “O, the blessedness of …”). Indeed, the intentional “bookending” of this key phrase serves not only to emphasize the motif of individual blessing, but also to clarify that the relatively generalized notion of “worship” that leads to individual blessing, as introduced in Psalm 1, includes, among other things, the specific demonstration of compassion and grace (per 41:1: “he who considers the helpless…”). To put it otherwise, the worship resulting in personal blessing (Psalm 1) is worship entailing acts of compassion and grace (Psalm 41) — i.e., that worship expressed in our obedience to the second greatest commandment, in the fulfillment of which we inevitably also fulfill the first, “which is identical to it” (Matthew 22:39). — Wechsler, pages 119-120.

poor (v.1) = weak, sick, needy — In Psalm 22, the Messiah Himself is shown to be in this condition.

preserve (v.2) = lit. “to hedge about with thorns,” guard, protect

sustain (v.3) = lit. “to turn over his bed” — to take care of during an illness, to make his bed

he speaks lies (v.6) — his enemies wished him well to his face while desiring his death behind his back

evil (v.8) = of Belial — ungodly, wicked, worthless — an accusation that his illness is because of his wickedness

my own familiar friend (v.9) — Here is a reference to the betrayal of the Son of Man, as Jesus Himself taught (John 13:18-19 — see also Psalm 55:12-14; Matthew 26:14-16, 21-25; Acts 1:16-17). —Scofield, page 620

This could also be a reference to Ahithophel, who was a counselor to David, but betrayed him when he sided with Absalom in his rebellion against his father. he finally committed suicide by hanging himself (2 Samuel 17:23).

The 13th verse is not, strictly speaking, a part of the 41st Psalm. It is rather a doxology to mark the end of the first book in the five books of the Psalter. Compare Psalm 72:19-20 at the end of Book Two; Psalm 89:52 at the end of Book Three; and Psalm 106:48 at the end of Book Four. — Pettingill, page 96.

As is generally the case, Williams has a different interpretation. And, as is generally the case, I see his point but don’t know whether to take it that far.

The psalm is prophetic: and, whilst having a general application, it mainly concerns the future suffering of Israel under anti-Christ — sufferings permitted by God in just punishment of their sins (v.4).

Messiah confesses their sins, thereby admitting the justice 0f their punishment (v.4): He defines the conduct of their enemies as hatred against Himself, which indeed it was in its fullness and malignity (vs. 5-9); associating them with Himself, He prays that God would raise them up from their couch of afflictions, so that He could execute a just judgment upon their oppressors (v.10), as He did upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians; He predicts victory for them over their enemies because God tenderly loved both Him and them (v.11). — Williams, page 329.

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