Today [Psalm Forty-One]. Overcoming Betrayal and Sickness. In this chapter we find David sick, betrayed by his friends and surrounded by his enemies. He cries out to God for mercy. He calls into remembrance before God the fact that he helped the poor and supported them in their need. When was the last time you did something sacrificial for the poor? Throughout the scriptures – giving to the poor was the predicating action for tremendous miracles and even culture shifting deliverance in human history. In this verse we will examine David’s faith toward God in a time of sickness and betrayal and what he outcome was.
[Psa 41:1-13 KJV] 1 [[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.]] Blessed [is] he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in 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 unto 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 unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee. 5 Mine enemies speak evil of me, 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, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them. 11 By this I know that thou favourest 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 God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.
This psalm states that it is a psalm of David and we could assume that David is the author. There are scholars from antiquity however that believed it was written by king Hezekiah. It is a psalm of petition against the betrayal of friends and a petition for divine protection when threatened by one’s enemies. Verse 1 is a declaration of confidence in the hand of God to deliver the writer because he has considered the poor. Because he thought of the poor there is an expectation that his prayer will be answered. This is an example of leaning on the law of reciprocity, or sowing and reaping with a hope that God will look at your alms deeds and move in your behalf. This is not without precedent throughout scriptures.
The most significant example of God responding to those who are generous to the poor would be that of Cornelius, whose house Peter visited and the Holy Ghost fell on this gentile family. In Acts 10:4 Cornelius was told by God in a vision that his alms had come up for a memorial to God. Now Cornelius was not born again. Yet his kindness to the poor cause the Father to take notice. The implications of this are immense. It was through Cornelius that the gospel was opened to the gentiles and literally billions of souls have been saved outside of Judaism as a result. Because Cornelius was kind to those in poverty, God took notice and not just Cornelius but all of human history was affected.
Proverbs 19:17 says that the person who gives to the poor is making a loan to the Lord – and the Lord will repay. Learn to give to the poor. In the Old Testament everything normally given to the Levites in the seventh year was given to the poor. One of the reasons the nation of Israel went into captivity was because this was never observed even though it was commanded by God through Moses. When you are in financial straits learn to give to the poor. You might say – “well I can’t afford to do that!” Actually you can’t afford not to. Many say “I will not give to the poor – they are responsible for their situation and will probably spend the money on beer and alcohol!” Let me ask you a question: Jesus died for you when you needed saving. Have you ever misspent the shed blood of Calvary? The mercy you show to others is a metric of the mercy from God that you will enjoy. Learn to give, and give unconditionally to the poor.
As Psalm 1 says God will remember you and deliver you in your time of trouble when you give to the poor. In fact none of your other giving will count for anything in the courts of heaven unless you do give to the poor. Giving to the poor validates the giving you do elsewhere. What do you give? You give of your surplus. You scour your life, your property and your accounts and instead of storing up your goods and holding on to things you don’t need or use – you liquidate them into money or you simply donate the goods themselves to the poor until you have no legitimate surplus left.
Verse 2 says that God will deliver you from your enemies and keep you alive and in a place of blessing when you give to the poor. When you give of your surplus God will keep you in surplus. Learn to give to the poor. God will remember you and deliver you when you do so. Verse 3 goes on to say that giving to the poor will open the door to healing of your physical body. God will keep you alive and cause you to thrive because you have remembered the poor. This is one conditional promise of God that spans both the Old and New Testament. It was the key that brought salvation to the gentile world. In the United States for the most part when a poor person contacts a church he is given the number to the local ministerial alliance who will buy them a bag of groceries or put them in a hotel for the night. That is woefully and scandalously insufficient. Giving to the poor should be among the highest priorities of the local church. When people think of Christianity they should think of them as institutions and people who care for the poor and make a difference in the lives of those in poverty. If that is not your testimony or that of your church then make it your purpose to change that beginning with you – today.
In verse 4 David cries out for healing in his physical body. He states that he realizes he is sick because he is in sin. This is the plain statement of this verse. David is sick. He realizes that the reason he is sick is because of sin on his part. He asks God for mercy and forgiveness. He asks for forgiveness and consequent healing. For David there is a presumptive connection between his personal sin and sickness in his life. In Christianity it is considered preposterous to assume that sin and sickness are connected. If a minister would go on a sick call and suggest to the person in the bed of affliction they were in sin – he would be voted out of his church the following Sunday! Modern Christian culture most always go to John 4:11 when answering the question “why am I sick”.
[Jhn 11:4 KJV] 4 When Jesus heard [that], he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
The interpretation of this verse (wrongfully so) is that God put the sickness on the person in order that God might be glorified. We then most commonly apply this verse to any sick person – not being willing to suggest that perhaps this person was made vulnerable to sickness because of an anemic faith, or cold relationship with Jesus, or even outright sin. It is interesting to note on John 11:4 that Jesus didn’t say that the sickness was given by God. He was simply saying that the outcome or prognosis would not be mortality but glory to God through healing.
It is a legitimate question to ask when under affliction “am I in sin?” David asked that question and answered it in his own soul. He didn’t wallow in self denunciation then, he simply asked and anticipated God’s mercy. We need to be willing not to justify ourselves out of a religious mentality. We simply in every challenge just humble ourselves reflexively and go to God for mercy. The prayer for mercy from a heart of humility is the most effective prayer you can pray in a time of trial.
In verses 5-8 we find that David in his affliction is visited by his friends as Job was visited by his friends. He knew that those around him were looking at his sickness and expecting, even hoping that he would die. Have you ever been sick or facing some other trial and you realized that there were people around you who were hoping for the worst case outcome? When these people came to David they spake words of comfort but when they left the room they told everyone they knew about how bad he looked and that he would no doubt die. With friends like these we don’t need the devil – they are doing his work all by themselves!
Not only did David’s friends expect him to die – they were conspiring about dividing up the kingdom after he was gone. I remember going through a very difficult time in my life when I was visited by a distant family member. I considered this person to be a devout believer and a minister of the gospel. I opened my heart to him for prayer. He somehow found a way to neglect to pray for me but returned a few days later and tried to take an open financial advantage against me in the event I didn’t make it out of my situation. Make up your mind not to add offense and forgiveness to your burden when people – even close family members around you do not support you when you suffer. Just forgive them and look to God for deliverance.
Verse 9 of Psalm 41 is a Messianic foreshadowing of Judas betraying Jesus. When Jesus would have read this verse he would have realized prophetically that he was going to be betrayed by one of the 12. How do you think Jesus knew ahead of time many of the things he obviously was aware were coming in his life? These psalms and many other prophecies were given to inform him and make him aware of what was ahead. As He read “the volume of the book” He became aware of what the future held for Him. Paul the apostle read the scriptures the very same way. How can this be? Is this not some form of fortune telling? No – you must remember that the bible is not a mere book. When you read the bible faith comes. When faith comes it shapes your future. As you are a person of the book – the sacred narrative drives the experience – determines the experience you are about to have. In Jesus’ case he knew exactly what to expect because he read the word this way.
In verse 10 David doesn’t rail against his enemies. He simply expresses his faith in God not to allow the designs of his enemies to prevail against him. In verse 11 he declares that the favor of God is still with him. Even though you may fail, or go through a trial the favor of God is with you. He will not allow your enemies to triumph over you. When you maintain integrity in your relationship with God you will come through the trial, the betrayal, the sickness and your testimony will be intact and your victory assured.
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