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Bible Commentaries

Trapp's Complete Commentary

Psalms 41

Verse 1

Psalms 41:1 « To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. » Blessed [is] he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

A Psalm of David ] Of the same sense with the four former psalms, saith Kimchi.

Ver. 1. Blessed is he that considereth the poor ] Heb. that wisely considereth concerning the poor; the poor weakling, whose health is impaired, whose wealth is wasted. Austin rendereth it, Qui praeoccupat vocem petituri, He that preventeth the request of the poor beggar; wisely considering his case, and not staying till he crave; which possibly out of modesty he may be loth to do. The most interpret it of a charitable judgment passed upon the poor afflicted, not holding him therefore hated of God because heavily afflicted, as Job’s friends did. At vobis bene sit qui de me quantumvis calamitoso rectius iudicatis, so Beza here paraphraseth; Well may you fare, my friends, who censure better of me, though full of misery; and deal more kindly with me. The word Maschil signifieth both a prudent judgment and a desire to do all good offices, saith one. It signifieth to give comfort and instruction to the weak, saith another, wisely weighing his case, and ready to draw out, not his sheaf only, but his "soul to the hungry," Isaiah 58:10 . This is a blessed man, presupposing him to be a believer, and so to do it from a right principle, viz. "Charity out of a pure heart, of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned," 1 Timothy 1:5 .

The Lord will deliver him ] i.e. The poor weakling; and the other also that dealeth so mercifully with him; both shall be delivered; according to that of our Saviour, Matthew 10:41 . Delivered, I say, he shall be in due time; supported in the mean while; a good use and a good issue he shall be sure of. Some make it David’s prayer, The Lord deliver him, &c. Others, the merciful man’s prayer for the poor afflicted (Kimchi).

Verse 2

Psa 41:2 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.

Ver. 2. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive ] Life in any sense is a singular mercy. "Why is a living man sorrowful?" Lamentations 3:39 ; if he be alive, though afflicted, he hath cause to be thankful; how much more if alive to righteousness! The Arabic here interpreteth it, dabit illi filios in quibus post mortem vivat, he will give him children, in whom he may live after his death.

And he shall be blessed upon the earth ] With wealth, and other accommodations; so that the world shall look upon him as every way blessed.

And thou wilt not deliver him into the hands of his enemies ] Heb. Do not thou deliver him. This maketh Kimchi conclude, that all this is but oratio visitantis consolatoria, the prayer of him that visiteth the sick man, for his comfort.

Verse 3

Psa 41:3 The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.

Ver. 3. The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing ] Whether through sickness of body, as Isaiah 38:2 , or sorrow of heart; for in such case also men cast themselves upon their beds, 1 Kings 21:4 . This God, and not the physicians, will do for the sick man, die septimo, on the seventh day, saith R. Solomon, when he is at sickest.

Thou wilt make all his bed ] Heb. Thou wilt turn, thou wilt stir up feathers under him, that he may lie at ease; and this by the hand of those poor whom he had considered. Or, Thou wilt turn all his bed, that is, his whole body, from sickness to health, as Kabvenaki senseth it.

Verse 4

Psa 41:4 I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.

Ver. 4. I said, Lord, be merciful unto me: heal] Heal me in mercy, and begin at the inside first. Heal my soul of sin, and then my body of sickness; heal me every whit. These, to the end, are the sick man’s words, saith Kimchi. And this is the character of the Lord’s poor man, to whom the foresaid comforts do belong, saith another.

For I have sinned against thee ] He crieth peccavi, not peril. Sanationem a capite orditur, he beginneth at the right end.

Verse 5

Psa 41:5 Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish?

Ver. 5. Mine enemies speak evil of me ] Notwithstanding my piety and devotion; that is no target against persecution. David’s integrity and the severity of his discipline displeased these yokeless Belialists; they were sick of his strict government, and longed for a new king who would favour their wicked practices; such as was Absalom, whom they shortly after set up. David they could not endure, because he did justice and judgment to all the people. These libertines were of the Egyptian mode; loquaces et ingeniosi in praefectorum contumeliam, its ut qui vitaverit culpam, infamiam non effugiat, such as loved to speak evil of dignities; and could not give their governors (how blameless soever) a good word (Seneca).

When shall he die, and his name perish? ] Nothing less would satisfy their malice than utter extermination. But David recovereth, and his name surviveth, when they lie wrapt up in the sheet of shame.

Verse 6

Psa 41:6 And if he come to see [me], he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; [when] he goeth abroad, he telleth [it].

Ver. 6. And if he come to see me ] That is, Ahithophel, or some such hollow hearted Holophanta (Plaut.).

He speaketh vanity ] Pretending that he is very sorry to see me so ill at ease; and letting fall some crocodile’s tears perhaps, Ore pro mea sanitate orant sed corde quaeruut malum (Midrash Tillin.).

His heart gathereth iniquity to itself ] As toads and serpents gather venom to vomit at you.

When he goeth abroad, he telleth it ] Boasting to his treacherous brotherhood of his base behaviour.

Verse 7

Psa 41:7 All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt.

Ver. 7. All that hate me, whisper together against me ] Heb. Mussitant, they mutter, as charmers use to do. These whisperers are dangerous fellows, Romans 1:29 , like the wind that creepeth in by chinks in a wall or cracks in a window. A vento percolato, et iuimico reconciliato, libera nos, Domine, saith the Italian.

Against me do they devise ] Cogitant quasi coagitant.

Verse 8

Psa 41:8 An evil disease, [say they], cleaveth fast unto him: and [now] that he lieth he shall rise up no more.

Ver. 8. An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him ] Heb. A thing of Belial, a vengeance, hath befallen him; God, for his foul offence, hath put him over to the devil to be tormented by a pestilential disease, that will surely make an end of him, Omnes impietates quas perpetravit (R. Solom.). So Genebrard (that mad dog), in the fourth book of his Chronology, A. D. 1563, reckoning up those divers diseases whereof Calvin died, all which was well known to be false, addeth, An Herodes terribilius animam Satanae reddiderit, equidem nescio, Whether Herod yielded up his soul to the devil in a more horrible manner, I know not. With as little charity did Evagrius say of Justinian, the great lawgiver, ad supplicia iusto Dei iudicio apud iuferos luenda profectus est, he went to hell torments, when he died by God’s just judgment. And Luther of OEolampadius, Se credere (OEcolampadium ignitis Satanae telis et hastis confossum subitanea morte periisse (Lib. de Missa privata, A. D. 1533) - tantaene animis caelestibus irae? This false conceit is sufficiently confuted by the history of his life and death set forth by Simon Grynaeus, as also is that concerning Calvin, by his Life written by Beza, and others.

Verse 9

Psa 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up [his] heel against me.

Ver. 9. Yea, mine own familiar friend ] Heb. the man of my peace. This was a great cut to David, τιγαρ μειζον ελκος η φιλος αδικων , saith Sophocles. What greater wound can there be than a treacherous friend? such as was Ahithophel to David, Judas to our Saviour, Brutus to Julius Caesar (who was slain in the Senate house with three and twenty wounds, given for most part by them whose lives he had preserved), Magnentius to Constans, the emperor, who had formerly saved his life from the soldiers’ fury; Michael Balbus to the Emperor Leo Armenius, whom he slew the same night that he had pardoned and released him. This evil dealing made Socrates cry out, φιλοι ουδεις φιλος , Friends, there is hardly a friend to be found; and Queen Elizabeth complain, that in trust she had found treason; and King Antigonus pray to God to preserve him from his friends; and King Alphonsus to complain of the ingratitude of his favourites.

In whom I trusted ] So did not our Saviour in Judas, for he knew him better than so, and therefore this clause is left out, John 13:18 , where he applieth this saying to himself. Jerome and some others apply the whole psalm to Christ, and for that end they render these words actively, Cui credidi, to whom I intrusted or committed my ministry.

Who did eat of my bread ] My fellow commoner, with whom I had eaten little less than a bushel of salt. A man’s enemies are many times those of his own house, the birds of his own bosom. Judas dipped in the same dish with Jesus, betrayed him with a kiss. Caveatur osculum Iscarioticum. Beware the kisses of Judas.

Hath lift up his heel against me ] Heb. Hath magnified the heel, or the foot sole, sc. to supplant me, or to trample upon me, or to spurn against me. Metaphora ab equis calcitronibus, saith Vatablus, a metaphor from unruly and refractory horses. See Judges 15:8 . It importeth contempt, despite, and cruelty.

Verse 10

Psa 41:10 But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.

Ver. 10. But thou, O Lord, be merciful unto me ] As storms beat a ship into the harbour, so did men’s misusages drive David to God; and as children, meeting with hard measure abroad, hie home to their parents, so here.

And raise me up ] From off this bed of weakness, and from under their feet of insolence and cruelty.

That I may requite them ] Not in a way of private revenge (for that was utterly unlawful, and would not bear a prayer), but of justice, as I am a king, and a lawful magistrate. The fear of this might haply make Ahithophel (foreseeing that all would be naught on Absalom’s side) to save the hangman a labour.

Verse 11

Psa 41:11 By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.

Ver. 11. By this I know that thou favourest me ] This is the triumph of trust and the fruit of faithful prayer; ever answered, sometimes before it is uttered, sometimes in, and sometimes alter the act; but we may be sure of an unmiscarrying return if we pray and not faint, Luke 18:1 , even such as shall bring us word that God favoureth our persons.

Verse 12

Psa 41:12 And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.

Ver. 12. And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity ] Which earth and hell had conspired to rob me of, but in vain, through thy help. My shield is yet in safety. My faith faileth me not, nor yet mine innocence in regard of men, or the righteousness of my cause.

And settest me before thy face for ever ] So that, being never out of thy sight, I cannot possibly be out of thy mind. Confer 1 Kings 17:1 .

Verse 13

Psa 41:13 Blessed [be] the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.

Ver. 13. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel ] Thus he sweetly shutteth up this first book of the psalms (as some distinguish) with a pathetic doxology, redoubling his Amen, Fiat, Fiat, to show his fervency, and most earnest desire that God should be blessed by his whole Israel. This was the custom of the Scribes to do, saith Kimchi, when they had finished any book. The other four books of psalms (as they are reckoned) end in like manner.

From everlasting to everlasting ] i.e. From the beginning of the world to the end of it; or, as the Chaldee hath it, from this world unto the world to come.

Amen, and Amen ] So be it, and so it shall be. Dictio est acclamationis, approbationis, et confirmationis. The Rabbis say, that our amen in the close of our prayers must not be, first, hasty, but with consideration, 1 Corinthians 14:16 . Secondly, nor maimed or defective; we must fetch out our hearts after it, and be swallowed up in God. Thirdly, nor alone, or an orphan; that is, without faith, love, and holy confidence. The spirits of the whole prayer are contracted into it, and so should the spirit of him that prayeth.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 41". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.