Psalms Chapter 41

Psalms Chapter 41  #Blesssed #Weak #Betrayed #Favored

(Unless otherwise cited this devotional is from the King James Version-Psalms 41 mainly because it is public domain.) But read this Psalm in the NIV for clarity of the Genre.)

Context: From Longman

“This psalm does not fit neatly into a generic category. Indeed, it depends on how one reads the last stanza. We follow the [NIV] here, which makes it clear that the psalmist’s prayer for help has not yet been answered, although he expresses confidence that it will be. Others believe that this stanza indicates that the prayer has been answered and that the earlier prayer asking for help is cited in verses 4– 9. Thus, we take it as a lament of the individual rather than a thanksgiving psalm.

The relationship between the opening stanza and the rest of the psalm is also at issue.

We believe the best understanding is that the psalmist, who, in keeping with the title, maybe [King David] (Wilson 2002, as quoted by Longman, 2014, 190), is pronouncing a blessing on those who take care of the weak.

The blessing includes the idea that when they are weak God will help them. The psalmist himself, then, was a helper who now needs help. An alternative understanding (Goldingay 2006, as quoted by Longman, 2014, 190),

  • is that the first line blesses those who think about the weak (or poor)
  • and they learn the lesson that God takes care of them,
  • rather than (as we take it here) a blessing on those who take care of the weak (or poor), so that when they find themselves weak, God will take care of them.
  • It is also possible that this opening stanza was spoken by a priest before later reporting the prayer of the afflicted (Broyles 1999, as quoted by Longman, 2014, 190).

I think that it is essential for us to understand how this psalm was constructed. We also need to comprehend why one pastor will stress one point of view over another pastor. Also, the version of the translation that we read will impact how we relate to the psalm and may change its meaning for us as we read. King James is a problematic translation for most people, but it is the one with the least copyright issues-it is public domain. I try to in use another translation such as the ESV when I add other scriptures to explain the verses.

Comments from Joyce

Psalm 41:  shows us the impact on a person’s heart when they have been betrayed by a friend (verse 9 ESV)” Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” If you remember what happened when Absalom made himself king David’s close friend, counselor, and confidant, Ahithophel, left his side and joined Absalom in his coup to take the throne of David.

  • 2 Sam. 15:12 “And while Absalom was offering the sacrifices, he sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city Giloh. And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing.”
  • 2 Sam 15:31 “And it was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O Lord, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”

Of course, we already know that it was prophesied that this would happen after David sin with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah and all of the men under his command. There is no escaping the consequences of our sins. It may be decades later, but the consequence will present themselves in our lives. Nathan’s Prophecy to David.

2 Samuel 12:11-12 “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’

Here is the part that involves Absalom.

2 Samuel 15:1-23 The MSG Bible

  • 1-2 As time went on, Absalom took to riding in a horse-drawn chariot, with fifty men running in front of him. Early each morning he would take up his post beside the road at the city gate. When anyone showed up with a case to bring to the king for a decision, Absalom would call him over and say, “Where do you hail from?” And the answer would come, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.”
    • Step 1: Convince the people who you are talking to that you have their best interest in heart. Let them know that the current regime is not looking out for their best interest, but you are!
  • 3-6 Then Absalom would say, “Look, you’ve got a strong case; but the king isn’t going to listen to you.” Then he’d say, “Why doesn’t someone make me a judge for this country? Anybody with a case could bring it to me and I’d settle things fair and square.” Whenever someone would treat him with special honor, he’d shrug it off and treat him like an equal, making him feel important. Absalom did this to everyone who came to do business with the king and stole the hearts of everyone in Israel.
    • Step 2: Trash the other person’s name and strip them of their integrity – without them knowing that it is happening.  Have you ever driven along a country road and then suddenly come upon a group of vultures feasting? 9 times out of ten if the dead animal is on the grass they will continue. If it is on the road they will fly out of sight until you have left the area then they will return to stripping the flesh from the dead carcass until all that is left are bones. 
    • This is what deception and name trashing do to a person’s integrity. Deception does not happen overnight, but it does require us to destroy one person’s character to make our own look great.
  • 7-8 After four years of this, Absalom spoke to the king, “Let me go to Hebron to pay a vow that I made to God. Your servant made a vow when I was living in Geshur in Aram saying, ‘If God will bring me back to Jerusalem, I’ll serve him with my life.’” The king said, “Go with my blessing.” And he got up and set off for Hebron. David lived to regret saying this to his child. He had no idea the type of deception that his son had practiced against him was waiting for him. Have you ever walk through a field of wildflowers that are growing on an empty lot? Well, in SC if you do that then death is waiting for you, or a serious bite from guess what? A snake! A field of wildflowers is a perfect habitat for snakes, poisonous and otherwise!
  • 10-12 Then Absalom sent undercover agents to all the tribes of Israel with the message, “When you hear the blast of the ram’s horn trumpet, that’s your signal: Shout, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron!’” Two hundred men went with Absalom from Jerusalem. But they had been called together knowing nothing of the plot and made the trip innocently. While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he managed also to involve Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s advisor, calling him away from his hometown of Giloh. The conspiracy grew powerful and Absalom’s supporters multiplied.13 Someone came to David with the report, “The whole country has taken up with Absalom!”
  • Now the part of the prophecy that was fulfilled! 2 Samuel 
    • 20 Then Absalom spoke to Ahithophel, “Are you ready to give counsel? What do we do next?”21-22 Ahithophel told Absalom, “Go and sleep with your father’s concubines, the ones he left to tend to the palace. Everyone will hear that you have openly disgraced your father, and the morale of everyone on your side will be strengthened.” So Absalom pitched a tent up on the roof in public view, and went in and slept with his father’s concubines. NATHAN’S PROPHECY: “And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.

      23 The counsel that Ahithophel gave in those days was treated as if God himself had spoken. That was the reputation of Ahithophel’s counsel to David; it was the same with Absalom.

Of course, we also know of someone else who was rejected and betrayed by a person who was close to him.

  • 1(To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.) Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
  • 2The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.
  • 3The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.

David talks about himself as a person who took care of the needy, maybe even people who are ill. At this point in his story, David appears to need someone to take care of him too.  God will deliver anyone who is a caregiver of persons who are in need when the time for deliverance in their own lives occurs. Longman 2014, clarifies why this psalm is not talking about the poor-financially poor. “The word ( dal ) can also be translated ‘poor’, but the rest of the psalm seems to focus on illness rather than poverty” (p. 190).  As Christians, we have a spiritual and physical calling on our lives to help the needy, especially people who are ill. 

  • 1 Peter 4:8 “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”
  • Luke 10:33 “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion [on him],” The Samaritan taught the religious people of his day how to be compassionate! We don’t want to be religious people! We want to be compassionate Christians like our Lord!

Dear God, I need Your Healing Touch!

  • I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.
  • Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish?
  • And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he telleth it.

The first part of this psalm talks about the principle of compassionate living. Now, David returns to his personal situation and begs God to heal him of his illness.

  1. Have you been in so much physical pain that it feels like you have been thrown on to a bed of prickly pear cacti?
  2. So, weak that you can barely stand it to breathe?
  3. So, emaciated that people are wondering if you will recover from your malady? That is how David felt. He complains to God about his enemies. 

 

  • Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish? [ Remember the counselor who gave his son horrific counsel against David? That was a very close friend of his. He has become David’s enemy!]
  • And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he telleth it.

Gossiping lies against someone, or even gossiping the truth about someone, is an act from the pit of hell and God hates it! Visiting a sick person just to find out if they are really sick; then trash talking them after the visit is as Cayce puts it ” This hypocritical “sick call” really adds insult to injury”(Cayce 2018, Ps 41). I have seen this happen before. What is worse I have seen it happen to the point that the person who visited the sick went about telling others that there was nothing wrong with the person, and then continued to spread malicious lies about them. It is an egregious act, and God hates it. Can you feel David’s pain? I can!

His Enemies are Still There Like a Sore That Will Not Heal!

  • 7All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt.
  • An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more.
  • Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.

David gathered that his enemies were doing more than whispering against him. I can tell you about a situation that involved someone I knew very well. The gossip became so intense that it affected them emotionally. The entire family was mercilessly persecuted. Cayce calls this behavior “…..two-faced. They do not say these things to his face. They get out and whispered behind his back. They really want to destroy him.” 

This also happened to the person whom I know. The residual effect of this kind of behavior is always “heartbreak!” Why did his enemies, and the person whom I know enemies, do this? Lawson speaks about this time in David’s life and states “With his illness so serious, they hoped to destroy public confidence in David’s ability to carry out the duties and responsibilities of king. Perhaps plans were being made to dethrone David as Israel’s king” (Lawson 2004, 230). 

It did just that to David, and it also happened to the lady that I know. It is not a good thing to betray one’s friend and confidant with a political/religious agenda in mind. We know that Judas did the same thing to the Lord. We expect this type of behavior from our enemies, or ungodly people, but we do not expect it from our friends and brothers, and sisters in Christ. It is like someone has landed a powerful punch into your gut and have left their fist there!

John 13:18-20 The (MSG): The One Who Ate Bread at My Table. “18-20 “I’m not including all of you in this. I know precisely whom I’ve selected, so as not to interfere with the fulfillment of this Scripture: The one who ate bread at my table Turned on his heel against me. “I’m telling you all this ahead of time so that when it happens you will believe that I am who I say I am. Make sure you get this right: Receiving someone I send is the same as receiving me, just as receiving me is the same as receiving the One who sent me.”

This scripture is the reason why I try really hard not to keep malice in my heart. Even when I can prove the other person is wrong! Is it worth destroying their name the way they did mine? I will go for counsel to a pastor so I can get it out of my mind. I will pray for it to leave me as David has done. But God does the removing in his own time. When this happens to you – it will at some point in every Christian’s life. Pray and pray really hard. Take the high road! Forgive and pray that God takes the memory away from your heart to prevent it from being replaced by a sickness of body and mind!

Be Near Oh God, and Have Mercy On Your Servant

  • 10 But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.
  • 11 By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.
  • 12 And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face forever.

David is asking God to heal him and to show his enemies that as his God, he is ever-present with him.  Remember the story of Job? His dear friends claimed that he had sinned or “this thing” would not have happened to him. Just imagine your closest friends coming to visit you and telling you for days on end that you must have sinned or you would not have this or that disease.

Job’s friends did that to him from Job Chapter 2- 29. Remember these were his friends. All that Job lost was restored and even more than what he had previously. None of the religious leaders of Jesus’ time believed that he was the Messiah. On resurrection morning they tried to refute it with lies. There will come a time when the whole world will know that He is Lord.  David knew that he was not perfect, but he also knew that he was innocent of the wild accusations levied against him. Look at what he says. “

  • 11 By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.

While the nurses in the hospital are removing the thorns from those prickly cacti out of your body, know that God can heal you and will heal you. Your spirit man will be more powerful than before the attack. As you begin to recover from the “sucker punch” that your psyche experienced just remember that “Joy and Healing” comes before the morning.

https://youtu.be/New8i_eX3x8

David’s Doxology: Closing Statement.

13 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen. 

References

Cayce, Ken. 2017. “Books of the Bible.”  http://www.bible-studys.org/About%20Me.html. Accessed October 8, 2018

Lawson, Steven. 2004. Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group. Accessed October 8, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Longman, Tremper, III. 2014. Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. Accessed October 8, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

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