Psalm 41 — Helping the Poor — Reading the Psalms


For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

1 Blessed is he that considereth the poor:
The LORD will deliver him in the day of evil.
2 The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive, and he shall be blessed upon the earth;
And deliver not thou him unto the will of his enemies.
3 The LORD will support him upon the couch of languishing:
Thou makest all his bed in his sickness.
4 I said, O LORD, have mercy upon me:
Heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.
5 Mine enemies speak evil against me, saying,
When shall he die, and his name perish?
6 And if he come 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 unto him:
And now that he lieth he shall rise up no more.
9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread,
Hath lifted up his heel against me.
10 But thou, O LORD, have mercy upon me, and raise me up,
That I may requite them.
11 By this I know that thou delightest in me,
Because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.
12 And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity,
And settest me before thy face for ever.
13 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
From everlasting and to everlasting.
Amen, and Amen.

Coming together in the last verses, this psalm feels divided by its two themes. The first is of the blessings bestowed on those who themselves bless the poor. The second is of the author’s plight and persecution in the hands of his enemies. How do these two ideas connect?

At the first we lift the praises of the philanthropist. The one who considers the poor is himself delivered. The one who preserves the poor is himself kept alive. Should such a one, blessed by earthly gains, ever languish, God is quick to help and cure.

So, as David pleads with God for help in verse four, it is as one who, knowing the benefits of blessing others, needs help himself. Even so, it is no selfish psalm of tit for tat. Read David’s description; he suffers under no imaginary problem. His enemies conspire and speak against him. They wait for his fall. They, in their collective power, await David’s own loss of power — for David’s fall from the heights to the lowest depths. They may not be waiting for David to be economically poor, but they are waiting for David to be poor nonetheless.

This is the connection: David knows it is good to help the poor, and that he is poor himself. Only God can help every one who is poor. Only God can supply the meaningful relief we all desire. If we wait on God, he will keep us in our integrity, safe and sound in his love.


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