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Psalm 41 - Our Enemies Requited

INTRODUCTION: The text of this Psalm does not clearly reveal the time when David had this "bed of languishing," nor does it give the name of the one close to him who turned to betray him. I chose a variety of passages that could apply to the general sense of the feelings expressed by David as he turned to the LORD for comfort and protection. Verse 9 was identified as a prophecy when at the last supper with his disciples Jesus said that it would happen as it had been written. This brief Psalm can be an encouragement for the reader to place their own personally difficult times into the hands of the LORD knowing our ultimate victory is in Christ, not in our self.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the 1833 Webster Bible.


Psalm 41 "1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in the time of trouble. 2 The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him to the will of his enemies. 3 The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness. 4 I said, LORD, be merciful to me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee."

COMMENTS: David began by writing that those who have concern for the poor will be blessed by the LORD in times of trouble, and the LORD will keep them alive. They will have blessings on the earth, and will not be delivered to the desire of their enemies. Moses wrote the following instruction from God about charity for the poor. Deuteronomy 15 "10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thy heart shall not be grieved when thou givest to him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thy hand to. 11 For the poor shall never cease from the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thy hand wide to thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land." David seemed to recognize the importance of that passage as he opened his psalm with mention of those factors before moving to his request of the LORD.

The Hebrew term translated as languishing appears only one other time in the scripture and it is there translated as sorrowful; and this emotional sense surely was part of the sickness David was experiencing at this time. The words "will make" are translated from a Hebrew term which means to turn, overturn, transform; therefore that bed of sickness would be overcome for David. David asked for mercy from the LORD to strengthen him as he confessed that he had sinned, and he asked that he be healed within his whole being, not just in a physical sense. . There is no description of a specific sin that David had committed, but he knew that he was a sinner and could appeal for help only through the mercy of God.

This is true for every person who seeks help from the Lord in prayer. Proverbs 28 "13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but he who confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."
1 John 1 "8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."


Psalm 41 "5 My enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish? 6 And if he cometh to see me, he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he telleth it. 7 All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt. 8 An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast to him: and now that he lieth he shall rise no more."

COMMENTS: Throughout David's life he had a variety of enemies from the time Samuel anointed him to become king in the place of Saul, until David anointed Solomon to be king in his place in Jerusalem. The illness in Psalm 41 for David is not given a time frame, but verse nine in the next section might lead to some relationship to the conspiracy surrounding Absalom, though not all verses clearly point to that. David surely had not forgotten about the message from God brought to him by Nathan regarding his sin with another man's wife, especially since the first part about the death of the child from that union happened just a few days after the birth. So David then had to anticipate that the sword would never depart from his house because he had despised the LORD. Furthermore the LORD said he would raise up evil against him from within David's own house, and that would not be done in secrecy.

2 Samuel 12 "9 Why hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thy house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. 11 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thy own house, and I will take thy wives before thy eyes, and give them to thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. 13 And David said to Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said to David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. 14 But, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to thee shall surely die."


Psalm 41 "9 Yes, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. 10 But thou, O LORD, be merciful to me, and raise me up, that I may requite them."

COMMENTS: As David wrote a prophetic phrase that would apply to Christ Jesus, it could be that David's own situation was not to be defined in the other verses. David did have a trusted advisor named Ahithophel who betrayed him and became part of the conspiracy for David's son Absalom to become king after David was killed. David prayed to the LORD, and the series of events resulted in his enemies being "requited" but David was not directly the one to accomplish this. The LORD worked the details for David, and thereby David was "raised up" from his bed of languishing and saved from death. It is difficult to find another time in David's life that is better suited to have application to David for the phrase in verse nine of this psalm.

2 Samuel 15 "31 And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness."
2 Samuel 17 "14 And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom."
2 Samuel 17 "23 And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and went home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died. and was buried in the sepulcher of his father."
2 Samuel 18 "14 Then said Joab, I may not tarry thus with thee. And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. 15 And ten young men that bore Joab's armor compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him. 16 And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel: for Joab restrained the people. 17 And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent."

Though Jesus knew from the beginning who would betray him, he also wanted his disciples to know the true value of the spirit more than the body. John 6 "62 What if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that reviveth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who he was that would betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore I said to you, that no man can come to me, except it were given to him by my Father."
John 13 "18 I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me, hath lifted up his heel against me. 19 Now I tell you before it cometh, that when it hath come to pass, ye may believe that I am he."


Psalm 41 "11 By this I know that thou favorest me, because my enemy doth not triumph over me. 12 And as for me, thou upholdest me in my integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever. 13 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and amen."

COMMENTS: David said he knew that he was surely favored by the LORD because his enemy did not triumph over him: and for every child of God that can be more clearly expressed as referring to death as the ultimate enemy. God alone can hold us in his grasp with the completeness that makes us to stand before his face forever. With this confident future, we should overflow with repeated declarations that the LORD God of Israel has deserved blessing and praise from everlasting, and to everlasting. Hallelujah, and amen!

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER --------------------

Lord, I pray that what I have included in my comments about the difficulties King David had with the conspiracy of Absalom and Ahithophel will not detract from the blessings that others may receive from reviewing and praying over the direct content of Psalm 41. There is so much scripture about David's life; and though he had a sincere heart for the LORD, he also had the inner conflict of the flesh. May his desire to confess his sin and to be restored to praise and worship of the only true God be the direction of my life as a sinner saved by your grace. I thank you LORD for the praise of David "from everlasting to everlasting" which is made more clear through additional scripture about my personal Savior who is the eternal God. I thank you Lord for the gift of peace that surpasses understanding. John 16 "33 These things I have spoken to you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye will have tribulation, but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world." Amen, and Amen!

Published 20 August 2018