Psalm 41

Psalm 41: mine own familiar friend

Psalm 41
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
(1) Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.
(2) 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.
(3) The LORD sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.
(4) I said, "Have mercy on me, LORD; heal me, for I have sinned against you."
(5) My enemies say of me in malice, "When will he die and his name perish?"
(6) When one of them comes to see me, he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander; then he goes out and spreads it around. 
(7) All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying, 
(8) "A vile disease has afflicted him; he will never get up from the place where he lies."
(9) Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.
(10) But may you have mercy on me, LORD; raise me up, that I may repay them.
(11) I know that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me.
(12) Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.
(13) Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.

Let us not get bored with a heading like this just because we have seen it often before. To the director of music, the choirmaster, or the Chief Musician. Of David. These words clearly tell us what God wanted of this song. He wanted it sung, read, and recited to music in a house of worship to Him. He wanted it remembered. He wanted David to be remembered as the author. God’s will.

Then it becomes our job to read it, study it, and open our hearts to what God wants to show us. May He speak to us about Psalm 41. He promises to, when we open our hearts to His word, He is present.

Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things come to be," declares the LORD. "But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word."
Isaiah 66:1-2 ESV

God’s kindness and truth have often been the support and comfort of the saints when they have had most experience of man’s unkindness and treachery. David here found them so, upon a sickbed; he found his enemies very barbarous, but his God very gracious.

Matthew Henry, English minister, 1662-1714
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

David is ill. He’s losing control of his kingdom. Possibly his illness has given room for speculation of his death and who will rule after him. Having nineteen grown sons, with many different women, probably didn’t make for pleasant family dinners.

But, in all his worry and fear for his kingdom, his illness and feelings of betrayal, David still remembered God’s faithfulness. He remembered that all he has is from God and has great faith that God will come to his aid yet again. He claimed healing- “God has done it before, He will do it again.”

Did David really have that kind of faith? God only knows David’s heart, but faith isn’t always a feeling. Faith is a decision. David is sick and losing control, but he stands on his faith that God has been present before and will be again.

As for me, I said, "O LORD, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!" 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. They say, "A deadly thing is poured out on him; he will not rise again from where he lies." Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
Psalm 41:4-9 ESV

I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.
Psalm 41:4 KJV

David is hurting. These verses are sad. There is nothing worse than the betrayal of someone you love. 2 Samuel 15 tells the story of the heartbreaking betrayal of David’s son, Absalom. Absalom desired the throne, his father’s kingdom. But more than that, he broke David’s heart. However, Bible commentators suggest that David refers to someone else in these verses, the heartache even greater. Ahithophel joined in the conspiracy with Absalom to steal the kingdom from David.

Absalom followed Ahithophel's advice, just as David had done. For every word Ahithophel spoke seemed as wise as though it had come directly from the mouth of God.
2 Samuel 16:23 NLT

What betrayal.

Better to have an enemy who slaps you in the face than a friend who stabs you in the back.


Ahithophel, David’s trusted advisor, along with his son, betrayed him. Many people followed these two. David had worries and trouble as king. But still the Bible records that David was a good king, and the good are sometimes taken advantage of.

Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
Psalm 41:9 KJV

Again, as with many of David’s psalms, we see this quoted later in the Bible. Jesus said:

I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, 'He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.'
John 13:18

Some point out that Jesus left that first bit about “trusted friend” out. Judas Iscariot was the ultimate betrayer. He walked with Jesus, learned from Jesus, saw all of the miracles, and still sold Him out for a day’s wage.

Jesus knew all this would happen, to fulfill the Scripture. Still a betrayal and a heartbreak.

Judas is a testament to the evil that most certainly exists in the world. And it’s scary.

But, my friends, take heart in the fact that it happened all under the watchful eyes of the Father.

This is what the LORD says- the Holy One of Israel and your Creator: "Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands? I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it. With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the stars are at my command.
Isaiah 45:11-12 NLT

You see, our God created all, but He didn’t just step back and take a seat to watch. Our God has His hands in everything. In all of His creation, still. My friends, that is reassuring.

But you, O LORD, be gracious to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them! By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout triumph over me. But you have upheld me because of my integrity and set me in your presence forever.
Psalm 41:10-12 ESV

David prays for healing so that he can have revenge. Old Testament statements like this cause us to pause as they are in stark contrast to Jesus. David usually prays to God to have revenge on his enemies, so this statement for personal repayment is interesting. David fully believes that God set him on the throne, and he lives his life every day to honor that appointment. He took great pride in what God had chosen for him to do. Then his son and close friend betrayed him, which in David’s eyes is a betrayal of God’s appointment.

David is hurt and angry.

But David’s most important job is that which was given to him by the Creator of the universe.

And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity. And settest me before thy face forever.
Psalm 41:12 KJV

You can just feel the pride David takes in the Lord and doing the Lord’s work. David stood every day “before the face of the Lord.”

Finally, the psalm ends with a doxology.

Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.
Psalm 41:13

This little song has so many emotions in it; illness and suffering, confession and betrayal, revenge and praise. All stuffed into one little song! But the ending just closes the whole thing up with a snap.

LORD= Jehovah, YHWH, the covenant name of God.

Jehovah is the personal name of our God. God of Israel is his covenant title and shows his special relation to his elect people. From everlasting to everlasting. The strongest way of expressing endless duration. We die, but the glory of God goes on and on without pause. Amen and Amen. So let it surely, firmly, and eternally be. Just as the people joined in the psalm by a double shout of holy affirmation; let us unite in it with all our hearts.

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892

And that little “double shout” closes what Bible scholas call “Book One” of the Psalter (Psalm 1-41).

Amen and Amen.

Father in heaven, blessed be your name. From everlasting to everlasting you are God. You are faithful and good, and we thank you that your hand is still in everything that you created. Thank you for your promises, for your word, and for sending Jesus. Thank you for walking beside us each and every day, through the ups and downs of life, and all the emotions possible. Thank you. We love you. Amen.

Heidi xoxo

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