Book 1 – Psalm 41 of 41: Restored to joy by the Deliverer

So book 1 of the Psalms ends with the same refrain as chapter 1.  “Blessed is the one” (v.1) – blessed is the one who considers the poor (the Hebrew also means “weak” or “thin“, indicating a man who is needy, or weaker) in the day of trouble the LORD delivers him.  Contrast this with v.1 of chapter 1 – “Blessed is the manwho walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers“.  Indeed, the implication here, as the book is book-ended with a similar theme, is that Christ is the one who identifies Himself with the weak; He is the Righteous and Blessed One who demonstrates his righteous walk by aligning Himself with the suffering, the weak, the persecuted. 

So Charles Spurgeon comments on this chapter:

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. This title has frequently occurred before, and serves to remind us of the value of the Psalm, seeing that it was committed to no mean songster; and also to inform us as to the author who has made his own experience the basis of a prophetic song, in which a far greater than David is set forth. How wide a range of experience David had! What power it gave him to edify future ages! And how full a type of our Lord did he become! What was bitterness to him has proved to be a fountain of unfailing sweetness to many generations of the faithful.

 

Jesus Christ betrayed by Judas Iscariot is evidently the great theme of this Psalm, but we think not exclusively. He is the antitype of David, and all his people are in their measure like him; hence words suitable to the Great Representative are most applicable to those who are in him. Such as receive a vile return for long kindness to others, may read this song with much comfort, for they will see that it is alas! too common for the best of men, to be rewarded for their holy charity with cruelty and scorn; and when they have been humbled by falling into sin, advantage has been taken of their low estate, their good deeds have been forgotten and the vilest spite has been vented upon them.

In the day of trouble (v.1), the Father delivers Christ and protects the Son and keeps Him alive – is not Christ blessed in the land (v.2) and not given up to the Satan?  So also we are blessed in the land and not given over to the enemy should we walk with the Son.  Just as the Father sustains Jesus, so we would be sustained when we are on our sickbed, that in our illness you would restore us in Him to full health (v.3).  Spurgeon notes, “We must not imagine that the benediction pronounced in these three verses belongs to all who casually give money to the poor, or leave it in their wills, or contribute to societies. Such do well, or act from mere custom, as the case may be, but they are not here alluded to. The blessing is for those whose habit it is to love their neighbour as themselves, and who for Christ’s sake feed the hungry and clothe the naked. To imagine a man to be a saint who does not consider the poor as he has ability, is to conceive the fruitless fig tree to be acceptable; there will be sharp dealing with many professors on this point in the day when the King cometh in his glory.

We then move to v.4 of David describing his sin against the LORD, just as he has done for the previous few chapters, describing the enemy who looks forwarding to the perishing of the Name of the Anointed, of the Root of Jesse (v.5), whose blood now flows in us the sons and daughters of God.  So Spurgeon indicates where the voice comes from in v.4 – 

The immaculate Saviour could never have used such language as this unless there be here a reference to the sin which he took upon himself by imputation; and for our part we tremble to apply words so manifestly indicating personal rather than imputed sin. Applying the petition to David and other sinful believers, how strangely evangelical is the argument: heal me, not for I am innocent, but I have sinned. How contrary is this to all self righteous pleading! How consonant with grace! How inconsistent with merit! Even the fact that the confessing penitent had remembered the poor, is but obliquely urged, but a direct appeal is made to mercy on the ground of great sin. O trembling reader, here is a divinely revealed precedent for thee, be not slow to follow it.

 

The malice runs deep in the hearts of the wicked – it is not the gospel they share, nor good news, but news of emptiness, discord, gossip, devising evil (v.6-7).  Such is the life of a man blessed that even the Christ, who being betrayed by Judas, had lost most of His friends when He hung on the cross (v.9). Of this verse, Adam Clarke comments:

This is either a direct prophecy of the treachery of Judas, or it is a fact in David’s distresses which our Lord found so similar to the falsity of his treacherous disciple, that he applies it to him, Joh 13:18. What we translate mine own familiar friend, ish shelomi, is the man of my peace. The man who, with the shalom lecha, peace be to thee! kissed me; and thus gave the agreed-on signal to my murderers that I was the person whom they should seize, hold fast, and carry away.

In times of trouble, it is therefore not to our network, our friend, or our fellowship first that we seek refuge.  We seek refuge in the Father through Christ alone by the empowerment of the Spirit – and all those who align themselves with the Trinity, so also we may find comfort with them. 

So the enemy’s triumph shall be short-lived as a symbol of His delight in the Christ and in us, upholding the Anointed One because of His integrity and establishing his seat forever (v.11-12).  So Adam Clarke states:

This also has been applied to our Lord; and Calmet says it is the greatest proof we have of the divinity of Christ, that he did not permit the malice of the Jews, nor the rage of the devil, to prevail against him. They might persecute, blaspheme, mock, insult, crucify, and slay him; but his resurrection confounded them; and by it he gained the victory over sin, death, and hell…

[Of v. 12] This also has been applied to our Lord, and considered as pointing out his mediatorial office at the right hand of God.

Who is this Blessed One, Blessed Man, of chapters 1 and 41?  The LORD (v.13) – may He be blessed, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!  Indeed – Amen. 

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Book 1 – Psalm 41 of 41: Restored to joy by the Deliverer

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