Everlasting God, Psalm 41

Psalm 41 is the final psalm in Book One of the Psalter. It’s a lament that begins with an extended statement of confidence in God’s sovereign provision:

Blessed is the one who considers the poor!
    In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him;
the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
    he is called blessed in the land;
    you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.
The Lord sustains him on his sickbed;
    in his illness you restore him to full health (Psalm 41:1-3, ESV).

God considers the poor by delivering him in the day of trouble, protecting him and keeping him alive. The believer is called blessed in the land and God does not allow him to be delivered to the will of his enemies. God sustains him when he’s sick and restores him to full health.

Although God often delivers believers from trouble, we know that sometimes Christians are overwhelmed by calamities, sometimes they are killed by enemies, and sometimes they become ill and die. Yet in all these tragedies, God keeps the believer eternally secure.

Trials are always a good time to assess the state of our hearts. Are there ways we have sinned against God that may have contributed to this struggle? If that is the case, it is cause for repentance as David shows in verse 4:

As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me;
  heal me, for I have sinned against you!”

We know from the book of Job that personal sin is not always the cause for suffering.  David’s suffering in this psalm seems to be primarily due to enemies (verse 5, ESV):

My enemies say of me in malice,
    “When will he die, and his name perish?”
And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words,
    while his heart gathers iniquity;
    when he goes out, he tells it abroad.
All who hate me whisper together about me;
    they imagine the worst for me (Psalm 41:5-7, ESV).

These enemies speak platitudes personally, but spread rumors abroad. They secretly conspire against David and fantasize the worst case scenario about him. They hope for his untimely demise (verse 8, ESV):

They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him;
    he will not rise again from where he lies.”

Worst of all, David has been betrayed by his bosom buddy, who used to hang out at his house and eat his food:

Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
    who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me (verse 9, ESV).

We expect persecution from obvious enemies, but it’s far more difficult to cope with betrayal from those within our own circle of friends, those within our own families or faith communities.

But David trust in God’s grace (verse 10, ESV):

But you, O Lord, be gracious to me,
    and raise me up, that I may repay them!

David’s words here are not a biblical directive for vengeance. In other parts of Scripture, God clearly says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” (Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19, Hebrews 10:30). But David was God’s anointed and a type, or foreshadow, of Christ. Christ is the One God raised up to repay all those who oppose God and his children.

David again expresses confidence in God’s sure deliverance:

By this I know that you delight in me:
    my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.
But you have upheld me because of my integrity,
    and set me in your presence forever (11-12, ESV).

Enemies may triumph for a season, but not forever. Since Christ accomplished all that was necessary for the salvation of believers, we can know for sure that God now views us with delight. We have integrity because we are clothed with Christ’s righteous. God will uphold us through every struggle now and place us in his presence forever.

Each book of the Psalter concludes with a doxology. Book One’s doxology appears in verse 13:

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

The eternal God, who shows his mercy to his covenant people, is forever blessed and glorious. He is with us in our struggles and delivers us from many of them. Should he choose not to, he still keeps our souls eternally safe. Struggles are an appropriate time for self-examination and repentance; however, personal sin isn’t necessarily the reason for suffering, although sin in this world is always to blame.

God sees the secret schemes of those who plot against us. he hears every whispered word. He understands the wrenching pain of betrayal. Even during these most difficult times, we can trust God to be gracious to us and to make everything right in the end. Because Christ paid the price for the sins of all who believe in him, God views Christians with delight and considers them as persons of integrity. He secures our place in his presence forever.

Truly the everlasting God is to be blessed and praised! Amen and Amen!

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2 thoughts on “Everlasting God, Psalm 41

  1. Came to read your most recent post from the link on FB and decided to read some back articles. Stopping here. This is exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you!

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