God's care for his people. (1-4) The treachery of David's enemies. (5-13)
Verses 1-4 The people of God are not free from poverty, sickness, or outward affliction, but the Lord will consider their case, and send due supplies. From his Lord's example the believer learns to consider his poor and afflicted brethren. This branch of godliness is usually recompensed with temporal blessings. But nothing is so distressing to the contrite believer, as a fear or sense of the Divine displeasure, or of sin in his heart. Sin is the sickness of the soul; pardoning mercy heals it, renewing grace heals it, and for this spiritual healing we should be more earnest than for bodily health.
Verses 5-13 We complain, and justly, of the want of sincerity, and that there is scarcely any true friendship to be found among men; but the former days were no better. One particularly, in whom David had reposed great confidence, took part with his enemies. And let us not think it strange, if we receive evil from those we suppose to be friends. Have not we ourselves thus broken our words toward God? We eat of his bread daily, yet lift up the heel against him. But though we may not take pleasure in the fall of our enemies, we may take pleasure in the making vain their designs. When we can discern the Lord's favour in any mercy, personal or public, that doubles it. If the grace of God did not take constant care of us, we should not be upheld. But let us, while on earth, give heartfelt assent to those praises which the redeemed on earth and in heaven render to their God and Saviour.
Psalms 41:1-13 . The Psalmist celebrates the blessedness of those who compassionate the poor, conduct strongly contrasted with the spite of his enemies and neglect of his friends in his calamity. He prays for God's mercy in view of his ill desert, and, in confidence of relief, and that God will vindicate his cause, he closes with a doxology.
1-3. God rewards kindness to the poor ( Proverbs 19:17 ). From Psalms 41:2 Psalms 41:11 it may be inferred that the Psalmist describes his own conduct,
poor--in person, position, and possessions.
2. shall be blessed--literally, "led aright," or "safely," prospered ( Psalms 23:3 ).
upon the earth--or land of promise ( Psalms 25:13 , 27:3-9 , &c.). The figures are drawn from the acts of a kind nurse.
4. I said--I asked the mercy I show.
heal my soul--(Compare Psalms 30:2 ). "Sin and suffering are united," is one of the great teachings of the Psalms.
5, 6. A graphic picture of the conduct of a malignant enemy.
6. to see me--as if to spy out my case.
he speaketh . . . itself--or, "he speaketh vanity as to his heart"--that is, does not speak candidly, "he gathereth iniquity to him," collects elements for mischief, and then divulges the gains of his hypocrisy.
7, 8. So of others, all act alike.
8. An evil disease--literally, "a word of Belial," some slander.
cleaveth--literally, "poured on him."
that he lieth--who has now laid down, "he is utterly undone and our victory is sure."
9. mine . . . friend--literally, "the man of my peace."
eat . . . bread--who depended on me or was well treated by me.
hath lifted up heel--in scornful violence. As David and his fortunes typified Christ and His these words expressed the treatment he received, and also that of his Son and Lord; hence, though not distinctly prophetical, our Saviour applies them to Judas, "that the Scripture may be fulfilled" ( John 13:18 ). This last phrase has a wide use in the New Testament, and is not restricted to denote special prophecies.
10. A lawful punishment of criminals is not revenge, nor inconsistent with their final good (compare Psalms 40:14 Psalms 40:15 ).
11-13. favourest--or tenderly lovest me ( Genesis 34:19 ), evinced by relief from his enemies, and, farther, God recognizes his innocence by upholding him.
12. settest . . . before thy face--under thy watch and care, as God before man's face ( Psalms 16:8 ) is an object of trust and love.
13. Blessed--praised, usually applied to God. The word usually applied to men denotes happiness ( Psalms 1:1 , 32:1 ). With this doxology the first book closes.