Psalm 41 Bible Commentary

Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown

(Read all of Psalm 41)

Ps 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 (Pr 19:17). From Ps 41:2, 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 (Ps 23:3).
upon the earth--or land of promise (Ps 25:13; 27:3-9, &c.).
3. The figures of Ps 41:3 are drawn from the acts of a kind nurse.

4. I said--I asked the mercy I show.
heal my soul--(Compare Ps 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 (compare Introduction), so these words expressed the treatment he received, and also that of his Son and Lord; hence, though not distinctly prophetical, our Saviour (Joh 13:18) applies them to Judas, "that the Scripture may be fulfilled." 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 Ps 40:14, 15).

11-13. favourest--or tenderly lovest me (Ge 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 (Ps 16:8) is an object of trust and love.

13. Blessed--praised, usually applied to God. The word usually applied to men denotes happiness (Ps 1:1; 32:1). With this doxology the first book closes.