Trust in God in Sickness and Misfortune
1 For the director.[b] A psalm of David.
2 [c]Blessed is he who has concern for the weak;
in time of trouble the Lord will deliver him.
3 The Lord will protect him and keep him alive;
he will make him happy on earth
and not abandon him to the will of his enemies.
4 The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed
and bring him back to health.
5 Once I prayed, “O Lord, have mercy on me;
heal me, for I have sinned[d] against you.
6 In their malice my enemies say of me,
‘When will he die and his name be forgotten?’
7 When someone comes to visit me,
he utters words without sincerity;
his heart[e] harbors slander,
and on departing he gives voice to it.
8 “All my enemies whisper against me
and conjure up the worst in my regard.
9 ‘He has a fatal disease,’ they say;
‘he will never rise up from his sickbed.’
10 “Even my friend whom I trusted,
the one who dined at my table,
has risen up[f] against me.
11 But you, O Lord, be merciful to me;
make me well[g] so that I may pay them back.”
12 By this I know that you are pleased with me—
that my enemy fails to triumph over me.
13 Because of my innocence you uphold me
and let me stand in your presence forever.
14 Blessed[h] be the Lord, the God of Israel,
forever and forever.
Amen and Amen.
- Psalm 41:1 The psalmist is well aware that mercy is rarely given by human beings. In his illness, he received no mercy from others; instead his enemies gleefully engaged in malicious gossip about him and his coming death and even his friend betrayed him. However, the psalmist does not retaliate in kind; he turns to God for mercy, asking for a rich life with all his powers restored so that he can stand once again in the presence of the Lord.
In praying this psalm, we can recall that the entire psalm is applicable to Christ personally, with the exception of verse 5, which he can assume only in place of and in the role of his sinful members. Since Christ assures us of God’s complete solicitude, we can recite this supplication on our account amid our earthly trials.
- Psalm 41:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation.
- Psalm 41:2 The psalmist voices his confidence that the Lord will restore him to fullness of health and life because of the psalmist’s regard for the weak. Blessed . . . weak: other psalms use the same designation (“Blessed”) for those whom God favors (see Pss 32:1f; 34:9; 40:5; 65:5; see also note on Ps 1:1).
- Psalm 41:5 Sinned: the psalmist acknowledges his sin and asks for forgiveness and healing—in keeping with the idea that sickness was a divine punishment for sin (see Ps 107:17; Job 32:3). In the cure of the man born blind, Jesus was to indicate that such was not the case (see Jn 9:2f).
- Psalm 41:7 Heart: see note on Ps 4:8.
- Psalm 41:10 This passage repeats a theme frequently developed (see Pss 31:12; 38:12; 55:15f; 88:9; Job 19:13; Jer 20:10; 38:22). It is cited by Jesus with reference to Judas (Jn 13:18) according to the sense of the Septuagint. Risen up: literally, “raised his heel.”
- Psalm 41:11 Make me well: the fact that God heals the psalmist is in itself a judgment in his favor and against his adversaries, but paying them back is not part of God’s judgment.
- Psalm 41:14 This doxology is not part of the psalm; it concludes the first of the five Books of the Psalter (see Pss 72:18f; 89:53; 106:48; 150). Blessed: see note on Ps 18:47.