Psalm 41, a lament.

Even my close friend,
someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
has turned against me.

Such a sad statement.

Jesus experienced this with Judas, and Jesus referred to these last few lines as a prophecy of that betrayal.

Many of us will experience something similar some time in our lives, and it can be a devastating experience – even though the betrayal may have been enacted through the best of intentions.

In the case of Judas, it is clear that he soon suffered deep regret. Much is often made about him selling out Jesus for thirty pieces of silver – but soon afterwards he returned the money, so despite scripture exposing him as a thief, his later actions show that his primary motive was probably not the payment.

Did Judas justify his betrayal of Jesus in some way?
Was he trying to force the hand of Jesus and/or the Father to do more than merely preach and provide healing? To try and fast-track the coming Kingdom of God that Jesus preached about?

How often do we have it all figured out? How often do we think we know what’s best for others – what those others should be doing, and how they should be going about their life instead of taking more care of  our own?
How often do we try to push along God’s agenda for someone else and try to force their hand to fast-track that agenda?

Why would we do that?
Is it because we think we know better than them?
Is it because we feel some kind of spiritual superiority over them? (Not that we’d describe it that way).

I believe THIS is the reason Jesus warned about trying to remove splinters from the eyes of others while our own sight is impaired by something much larger.

We need to concentrate more on our own condition, and how we treat and react to others than on how we are treated by them.

Jesus made this very clear:

I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

I’m not sure I can read that without feeling some kind of conviction – of realising how far I can fall short.

Psalm 41, a plea

The song near the end of my earlier post of the whole Psalm mostly focuses on this part .

I said, “Have mercy on me, LORD;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

The repentant desire for mercy is a common element of a lot of the Psalms.

A recognition of personal failure, of sinning against God and the consequences of doing so.

The need to put things right and get back on track, to have our slate wiped clean, leading to a restoration with God.

I can’t help but see a correlation between the plea for mercy and healing, and the recognition of sinning against God, with the preceding lines of the psalm where the desired sustainment and restoration from a “bed of illness” is part of the promised blessing to those who regard, or have consideration for, the weak.

So often are the blessings we need dependent on the way we treat others. Jesus made it clear that He can see our actions towards others as being actions towards Himself.

Another Psalm expressing a similar desire for mercy and restoration, perhaps more well-known thanks to a song by Keith Green, is Psalm 51, the chorus of which is so familiar and established that The Sons of Korah incorporated it into their own musical arrangement of the Psalm.

Psalm 41, a promise

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.
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.
The LORD sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness.

In the New Testament writings there are a variety of blessings promised for the poor, the weak, the less well-off in society.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

And

Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth

And

Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh.

But the first line of Psalm 41 announces a blessing on those who give consideration for the weak or the poor.
And then the following lines contain a promise that has a certain amount of ambiguity.
Do those following lines refer to the weak? Or to the one having regard for the weak?
Or both?

Reading those lines brings to my mind a statement in Matthew 10

He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward

While the Lord has special promises for the weak, the poor in spirit, the meek, the hungry, and those who weep… The ones who give special regard to people in those categories could be be similarly blessed.

Promises, a Plea, a Lament and Praise

I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve been listening to the Psalms, both spoken and sung.

I’m finding that so much is revealed about the contrasting aspects of the Lord’s character through them: His love and blessings  directed towards the righteous and His judgement upon the unrighteous.

This one in particular looks upon out treatment of “the weak”, and how that affects our relationship with the Lord and others.

Psalm 41

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.
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.
The LORD sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness.

I said, “Have mercy on me, LORD;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die and his name perish?”
When one of them comes to see me,
he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
then he goes out and spreads it around.

All my enemies whisper together against me;
they imagine the worst for me, saying,
“A vile disease has afflicted him;
he will never get up from the place where he lies.”

Even my close friend,
someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
has turned against me.

But may you have mercy on me, LORD;
raise me up, that I may repay them.
I know that you are pleased with me,
for my enemy does not triumph over me.
Because of my integrity you uphold me
and set me in your presence forever.

Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen

 

A song based on the Psalm – quite pleasant, but to me it seems to miss too much of the Psalm’s message.