John T. Willis

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

God delivers the Sick by Grace--Psalm 41

Psalm 41 is a prayer of thanksgiving. The psalmist had been stricken with a severe illness (verses 3, 4, 5, 8) as punishment for a terrible sin which he had committed (verse 4), and his enemies had concluded that he was so ill that he would die very soon (verses 2, 5, 8). But he prayed fervently that Yahweh would deliver him from his sickness because of Yahweh's grace (verses 1-4, 10-11). Psalm 41 naturally falls into three parts.

1. The psalmist begins by praising Yahweh for delivering "the poor." 41:1-3.
     a. Yahweh delivers the poor in the day of trouble. 41:1.
     b. Yahweh protects the poor and keeps them alive, and thus does not give them up to the will of their enemies. 41:2.
     c. Yahweh sustains the poor on their sickbed and heals them of their infirmities. 41:3.

2. The poet relates the troubles from which Yahweh had delivered him. 41:4-9.
     a. The composer begins by beseeching Yahweh: "Be gracious to me." He asks Yahweh to heal him because he confesses that he had sinned against Yahweh. 41:4.
     b. Then the psalmist describes the desires and plans of his enemies. They want the psalmist to die and his name perish. They come to visit the psalmist and utter empty words of consolation while their hearts gather mischief to destroy him and slander him to other people. They whisper together about the poet and imagine the worse for him. They think a deadly thing fastened on him and he will never rise again. 41:5-8.
     c. Even the psalmist's "bosom friend" in whom he trusted and who ate of his bread has lifted up his heel against him. 41:9. Jesus quotes and applies this statement to the betrayal of Judas Iscariot in John 13:18.

3. The psalmist concludes by giving Yahweh thanksgiving for delivering him from his troubles.
    a. The psalmist begins the third part by repeating the first few words of the beginning of the second part of this psalm: "Be gracious to me" (see verse 4). He beseeches Yahweh to raise him up. 41:10.
    b. The psalmist knows that Yahweh "is pleased" with him demonstrated by the fact that his enemies had not triumphed over him. 41:11.
    c. The poet rejoices that Yahweh upheld him because of his integrity and set him in Yahweh's presence forever. 41:12.

Psalm 41:13 is not a part of Psalm 41, but the DOXOLOGY at the end of Book I in the Psalter.

Share YOUR insights and observations and joys and sadnesses and upheavals with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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