Reflections of the Psalms – Psalm 41

Posted on: June 14th, 2015

The first verse of Psalm 41 is important because it gives one of the reasons why we should help people who are in need, “How blessed is he who considers the helpless; the LORD will deliver him in a day of trouble.” In both the Old and New Testament scriptures, the principle is repeated time and again that God’s people have a responsibility to care for those in need. Jesus’ great parable of the separation of the sheep and the goats is determined by the people’s willingness to help the needy. James wrote that pure religion included helping the widows and orphans with keeping oneself unspotted from the world.

Helping others can never be based upon the idea of gain. One Christian said, “I try to do at least one good deed a day where no one knows except my Lord.” Helping others must be rooted in a reverence and love for the Lord. The instinctive result of true love is compassion and a willingness to help those who are less fortunate. We don’t help people to be saved, we help people because we are saved in Christ; and we reflect the love of our Lord and Savior in our own lives.

David understood that principle, and with the exception of one extreme blunder, he tried to follow that principle during his life. At times, people in his government were probably less interested in the people than they were supposed to be, but King David tried to apply the principles of compassion to his people.

However, in Psalm 41, the darker side of those around David came out. David was suffering from some illness that may have been both physical and spiritual. He wrote, “The LORD will sustain him upon his sickbed; in his illness, You restore him to health. As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”

Many were jealous of the power that he held, and were anxious for him to die. “My enemies speak evil against me, ‘When will he die, and his name perish?’” Apparently, some would appear before him with kind words, yet slander him behind his back. The saddest incident was recorded in verse 9, “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Betrayal can be one of the harshest experiences faced. In spite of all that, David’s faith regained strong In the Lord.

Within David’s life, and this Psalm, are some important lessens for Christians today. First, good works and help are not done for the praise of men. Fame and popularity are fleeting things at best. As a young man, the people praised him to the point that King Saul developed an insane jealousy and hatred for David. On several occasions, the people were going to forcibly make Jesus their king. Shortly after that, all but his closest disciples left him.

No, good works are done out of a love for God and a desire to please him. A little child will go to great lengths to do something or make something to please his/her mother or father. Christians. with a true love in their hearts, will do the same thing. Think of every Christian moving through his or her life spreading goodness, compassion and love; and quietly and lovingly stating the reason for his or her faith. That formula changed the world then and it will change the world today.

Another lesson that has been so often illustrated in the other psalms is that faithfulness to God and lack of problems in this life are not necessarily connected. Yes, sinful actions often lead to pain and suffering; but that is not always true. Faith, hope and love in God centers upon spiritual help to overcome the trials in this life. David’s psalm promises that God will SUSTAIN the faithful during such times. Too often today, people in this world want to connect faith with physical and material well-being. But that is a wrong and dangerous attitude.

Instead, each day we should be thankful for what God has given us in Jesus Christ. Each day, we should be comforted in the promise we have of eternal life. Yes, each day, we should echo David’s final thoughts in Psalm 41, “As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, and You set me in Your presence forever. Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.”

Jim Shelburn