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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 41

 

 

Verse 1

Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

Psalms 41:1-13.-Ground of the Sufferer's hope of deliverance, He who is merciful to the afflicted, shall obtain mercy, when afflicted himself (Psalms 41:1-3); such is the case of David now, afflicted by enemies (Psalms 41:4-9); so he prays for mercy "in his integrity," and is assured of triumph before God's face for ever (Psalms 41:10-12); Doxology (Psalms 41:13); the Messianic interpretation is established by Christ Himself (John 13:18; cf. Psalms 41:9).

Blessed is he that considereth the poor - literally, 'that acts wisely toward the poor' [ mashkiyl (Hebrew #7919)];

i.e., who has a wise consideration and fellow-feeling for their sorrows. To show mercy to our fellowmen in suffering is real wisdom; hardness and unkindness is folly, as well as sin. This is the ground on which David confidently expects from God deliverance for himself, and a requital of their own hard-heartedness upon his enemies. Contrast Psalms 41:5-9, their conduct toward him when in distress, with his conduct toward them when they were so (Psalms 35:13-14). On this fact and the principle that 'with the merciful God will show Himself merciful' (Psalms 41:1-3; Psalms 18:25), David bases his confident prayer here. 'When they were sick, I was merciful to them; now that I am sick, through their wearing malice, show thou mercy to me, especially since they show the opposite spirit to me in my suffering.' The Hebrew for "the poor" [ daal (Hebrew #1800)] implies one sick, weak, or poorly off.


Verse 2

The 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.

Thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies - namely, those enemies (Psalms 41:5-6) who 'come to gaze' at his pain, eager for his death. God will disappoint their malice by raising him up (Psalms 41:10) contrary to all expectation.


Verse 3

The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.

The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing - The Lord will sustain him by supplying strength, consolation, patience, etc.

Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness. "Make" - literally, turn. The image is that of a most tender nurse turning the bed of the patient, in order that he may lie the more easily. The idea meant is, God will mitigate the trial of the merciful man in various ways, and change his position of pain into one of tranquillity. The "bed" means the state of the sufferer. "All his bed" means, as often soever as he is afflicted; and howsoever great may be his affliction, God completely assuages it.

Here the sufferer, who can claim the promise of mercy to the merciful (Psalms 41:1-3), pleads before God his distressed state, and the malice of his enemies, as a ground for the promise being fulfilled now.


Verse 4

I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.

I said, Lord, be merciful unto me. The "I" is emphatic in the Hebrew - i:e., What I "said" in general of the mercy promised in distress to those who are merciful to others in their distress, applies to ME: it is I who thereby claim thy promise, "Lord be merciful unto me."

Heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee. David, the type, rightly regards sufferings as designed by God to bring sins to remembrance, that the sufferer may confess his guiltiness, and seek healing of soul, as the necessary preliminary to temporal healing. The sufferings of the Antitype, Christ, were the penalty of our sins, which He appropriated as our Sin-bearer.


Verse 5

Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish?

Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish? Their malicious speeches affected his bodily health, so that they hoped for his speedy death.


Verse 6

And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he telleth it.

And if he come to see me. "He" - i:e., the wicked enemy.

He speaketh vanity - i:e., he hypocritically professes love.

His heart gathereth iniquity to itself. Or, as Hengstenberg, '(As for) his heart (all the time that his lips are hypocritically professing to me love), he is gathering mischief (i:e., matter for malicious calumnies against me) to himself.'

When he goeth abroad, he telleth it - when he has gone out from me, he spreads abroad the mischievous calumnies which he has concocted at heart while with me. Compare the exit of the traitor Judas from the holy supper, the divinely appointed pledge of love, to perpetrate the foul treachery against his Lord (John 13:30), "He then having received the sop, went immediately out."


Verse 7

All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt.

All that hate me whisper together against me. Compare the last two clauses of Psalms 41:6, note.


Verse 8

An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more.

An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him - literally, 'a word' or 'thing of Belial is poured upon him.' Compare as to Messiah, the Antitype, "We did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted" (Isaiah 53:4). They insinuate that his sickness is a judgment on him for his ungodliness. It was the feeling that all suffering is the general expression of God's displeasure against sin, which gave special poignancy to this assault, and even affected his bodily health. So "a thing of Belial," in Psalms 101:3, stands for "a wicked thing;" cf. also Psalms 18:4, margin. "Belial" means worthlessness. Hammond takes it, 'a shocking calumny is fastened on him.'

And now that he lieth he shall rise up no more. The enemies exult in their success in calumniating him: by laying on their calumnies thick, some stick. So, to their joy, he is brought low, never, as they hope, to rise up anymore.


Verse 9

Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.

Yea, mine, own familiar friend - literally, 'the man of my peace;' he who saluted me with the kiss of peace, as Judas did (Matthew 26:49; cf. the type, Jeremiah 20:10).

In whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. Christ, in appropriating this to Himself, omits the clause, "in whom I trusted," as applying rather to David, the type, than to Himself. The phrase, "did eat of my bread," is taken from the practice of kings admitting honoured subjects to eat at their table (2 Samuel 9:11; 2 Samuel 19:33). Its awful realization was when Judas was admitted to eat of the Lord's supper. The lifting of the heel is an image from a horse kicking at his master; cf. Acts 9:5, end. Ahithophel, "David's counselor" (2 Samuel 15:12), who deserted to Absalom, typifies Judas, as David does Christ. Ahithophel's and Judas' end, as their course, was alike (2 Samuel 17:23; Matthew 27:5).


Verse 10

But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.

The prayer based on the foregoing representation begins the fourth strophe.

But thou, O Lord, be merciful unto me - resumed from Psalms 41:4, in contrast to their unmercifulness (Psalms 41:4-9).

And raise me up - disappointing their malicious hope, "he shall rise up no more" (Psalms 41:8). And raise me up - disappointing their malicious hope, "he shall rise up no more" (Psalms 41:8).

That I may requite them - not in personal revenge, but in vindication of the honour of God, insulted in my person. True typically of David (2 Samuel 19:21-23; 1 Kings 2:8-9; 1 Kings 2:37; 1 Kings 2:46. In his personal character David strictly abstained from revenge (1 Samuel 24:1-22; 1 Samuel 26:1-25; Psalms 7:4; cf. Matthew 5:39-40; Proverbs 20:22). So Christ, the Antitype (Luke 19:27), as representing the honour of God, and vindicating the cause of His righteousness (2 Thessalonians 1:8).


Verse 11

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

Confident anticipation of his prayer being heard, since the cause and honour of God are at stake in his person.

By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me - literally, 'doth not shout in triumph over me.' By faith he treats the internal assurance of deliverance as if it were an already-accomplished fact, and as the token whereby he knows God's favour toward him.


Verse 12

And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.

And as for me - in contrast to the doomed "enemy" (Psalms 41:11).

Thou upholdest me in mine integrity - i:e., on account of mine integrity; on account of my possessing that very character which brings with it, as a matter of grace, not debt, mercy from God (Psalms 41:1-3; Psalms 18:20-27). As applied to the type, David, the "integrity" claimed here is that of sincerity of aim after perfection, not absolute perfection. For in Psalms 41:4 he pleads, "I have sinned against thee." In the case of the Antitype, Christ, the "integrity" is absolute; and the sins not personal, but vicariously borne by imputation.

And settest me before thy face for ever - as an object of thy continual regard, watching over me now (Psalms 34:15), and at last admitting me to "behold thy face in righteousness" (Psalms 16:11; Psalms 17:15; cf. also Psalms 80:3; Psalms 80:7; Psalms 80:19). To stand continually before a king is to be his ministering servant (1 Kings 10:8). To minister before God is the final end for which He saves His people, and this, too, is their greatest happiness (Revelation 22:4).


Verse 13

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

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen. Doxology, closing the first of the five books into which the Psalter is divided. Each of the five ends similarly, with a benediction in prose (Psalms 72:18-19; Psalms 89:52; Psalms 106:48; Psalms 150:6). At the end of the whole 150 psalms, he gives praise in thirteen Hallelujahs, as Rabbi Kimchi notes. It is possible that David himself so closed his collection, because he has nearly the same benediction, 1 Chronicles 16:36. If not, at least it was from him that Ezra (supposing that he arranged the Psalms as they now stand) drew the Doxology with which he closed the collection, just as the closing verses respecting Moses' death were appended subsequently to the Pentateuch of Moses.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 41:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-41.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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