15 million Ukrainian are displaced by Russia's war.
Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 41

In this psalm we hear the Spirit of Christ speaking in the remnant. There is much in which we see Christ. Many verses apply to Him. This is certainly the case with Psa 41:9, which is quoted by the Lord Jesus. In that verse the Spirit of Christ speaks of what Judas will do to Him (Jn 13:18).

This psalm is about the effect of the iniquities of the previous psalm (Psa 40:12). That is, it is about the purification of the souls of the remnant. The purification takes place through an illness resulting from the iniquities of the psalmist, who is also a type of the believing remnant. The enemies are those who rejoice because of the illness and hope that the psalmist will perish because of the illness.

Verses 1-4

Blessed Are the Merciful

For “for the choir director” (Psa 41:1a) see at Psalm 4:1.

For “a Psalm of David” see at Psalm 3:1.

The circumstances under which David wrote this psalm are not known.

This last psalm of the first book of Psalms begins with “blessed” (Psa 41:1b). The first psalm also begins with this (Psa 1:1). In Psalm 1, the man is called “blessed” who loves God and His Word. In Psalm 41, the man is called “blessed” who loves his neighbor and proves it by paying attention to him and dealing with him wisely. This reminds us of the two manifestations of the new life of the New Testament believer that John describes in his first letter: loving God and loving the brother (1Jn 4:20-21).

The “helpless” of whom David speaks is first of all the Lord Jesus. “Helpless” here means “weak”, “poor”. Every one “who considers the helpless” is concerned with His fate and identifies with Him. Here it is about the poor (2Cor 8:9) Helpless Who by His wisdom can give deliverance and protection (Ecc 9:15). “He who considers” is the one who “understands”, the maskil, one who has been taught by God (Mt 11:29). Such a person has an eye for the one on whom God’s eye rests with favor. By this he shows that he has the mind of Christ, that he is belongs to Him. He displays His features, including the feature of a helpless or poor person (cf. Mt 5:3; Lk 6:20).

Such an understanding one, like Christ, will be delivered by God “in a day of trouble”. God will do to him in accordance with what he has done to others (Mt 5:7; cf. Mt 25:40; Mt 10:42). The “day of trouble” is the time when the one who considers the helpless is an object of the hatred of the enemies and experiences their enmity particularly. They hope that the psalmist will die (Psa 41:5). For the faithful remnant, it is the time of the great tribulation, which is also accompanied by enmity from within.

In Psa 41:2, David tells of the God-fearing faithful that God will “protect him and keep him alive”. We can apply this to the spiritual condition of the remnant, which is comparable to an illness. The promise is that God will heal the faithful and thus keep him alive (cf. Psa 41:3-8).

He “shall be called blessed upon the earth” that is in the time of the realm of peace when the Messiah will reign. The earth is specifically the land of Israel. The prayer not to be given over “to the desire of his enemies” is answered. God always answers the prayer of the God-fearing. His enemies always draw the short straw.

The faithful believer is given the assurance that God “will sustain him upon his sickbed” (Psa 41:3). To sustain means to give inner strength to bear his illness and that God will give him the assurance that he will be healed. Everything may seem to be against him when he lies powerless on his sickbed, felled by an illness. The enemies see in this a proof that God is against him and wait for an opportunity to put him to death.

But David encourages the ill person and addresses God directly for him. Confidently, he expresses that God “in his illness”, will “restore him to health”. The sickbed is caused by sin. “You restore” is literally “You turn all his bed”. The entire sickbed is made different, that is, everything is transformed and reversed, by the support of the LORD. The LORD gives that support because there is repentance and confession of sin. On that basis there is forgiveness and healing (Psa 103:3).

The remnant will be aware of their sins, of which illness is the result (Psa 41:4). They will speak out and acknowledge that they have sinned against God with a twofold sin: rejecting Christ and accepting the antichrist. For this they appeal to grace. Not only their body, but also their soul, their whole being, is ill by the realization that they have sinned. By the grace of God, they will see that the Messiah has borne their sins, which will heal their souls and bring them peace (cf. Gen 45:5b).

Verses 5-10

The Enemies

While the God-fearing in the previous verses puts his trust in God, there are enemies around him who speak against him and wish him to die and his name to perish (Psa 41:5). The hatred is deep within the enemies. They want and expect that he – that is David and in his following the faithful remnant – will die as soon as possible and that he will be forgotten as soon as possible. Then it will be over and done with his influence forever, for it threatens their position.

One of the enemies has come visiting the sick one to see how he is doing. He inquires, but the conversation is about nothing. Meanwhile, he collects false facts, so that he can gossip about them later. In his sickbed the psalmist finds no comforter; on the contrary, his false friends are in fact hostile minded to him.

The Lord Jesus also experienced that people came to Him with falsity in their hearts (Psa 41:6; cf. Pro 26:24). They flattered Him and tried to trap Him with trick questions (Mt 22:16-18). Their hearts have gathered wickedness; it is a secret repository of deceitful deliberations and mendacious intentions. They have tried to find something to accuse Him of (Jn 8:6). They have talked to others about their accusations and used them for their depraved plans (Mt 26:59-60).

The hatred is especially great among the religious leaders of the people. They “whisper together against” Him and over and over again “they devise” against Him his “hurt” (Psa 41:7). Regularly we read about it in the Gospels that they conspire against Him to put Him to death (Mk 3:6; Mt 12:14; Mt 22:15; Mt 26:3-4).

They see in His sickbed (Isa 53:3-4; 10) an occasion for spreading slander about Him. Someone stroke by an illness must be out of favor with God. They tell everywhere that “a wicked thing is poured out upon him” (Psa 41:8). Wicked practices are literally “practices of Belial”. For example, the Lord Jesus was accused by the Pharisees of casting out demons through the chief of demons, Beelzebub (Mt 12:24). Before Pilate, He was accused by the chief priests “of many things” (Mk 15:3; Lk 23:2).

Most profoundly, the Lord was affected by the betrayal of Judas, for Psa 41:9 is about him. This is evident from the Lord’s quotation of this verse in the Gospel according to John, where He applies it to Judas (Jn 13:18). His deep disappointment about this betrayal is echoed in the word “even” with which the verse begins. He had always lived in peace with Judas, given him His trust and shared His bread with him. Is there anything more painful than being betrayed by someone like that?

The Lord Jesus here calls Judas “my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread”. The Lord never did anything evil to Judas, but dealt with him in peace. He gave him His trust, as evidenced by the purse He gave him (Jn 12:6). The Lord gave him of His bread and shared with him what He had. The Lord’s whole dealings with Judas show that He had good intentions for him. And precisely that man “lifted up his heel against” Him (Mt 26:47-50).

In Psa 41:10, the Lord again (Psa 41:4) asks God to be gracious to Him and to raise Him up. He knows that Judas’ betrayal is the introduction to His deliverance into the hands of the enemies and that He will be killed by them. Here He asks for His resurrection. Several times the Lord has spoken both of His being delivered and of His death and resurrection (Mt 16:21; Mt 17:22-23; Mt 20:18-19). Here He attaches to His resurrection the right to repay His enemies for the evil they have done to Him.

Verses 11-12

Exaltation of the Righteous

Here the psalmist states that only then is he assured that God loves him when God has healed him causing the enemy to be silenced (Psa 41:11). Outwardly, evil seems to prevail when the Lord Jesus is crucified in weakness. The enemies think they have won the victory. But God raised Him from the dead and glorified Him. Because of this, Christ knows that God is pleased with Him and that His enemy will not shout in triumph over Him.

Despite his iniquities, the psalmist can still say that the LORD upholds him in his “integrity” (Psa 41:12). “Integrity” in Hebrew is ‘with all the heart’. Christ is fully assured of the support of God as far as He Himself is concerned. In everything He was complete in His integrity, which means that He was wholeheartedly devoted to God. There has never been anything wrong in Him. Because of this He knows that in the resurrection He will be set by God in His presence, and that “forever”.

Verse 13


The psalmist ends with a praise to “the LORD, the God of Israel”. That praise will be “from everlasting to everlasting”. It is a praise right through all the trials. Nor will it ever end, for there will never be an end to the presence of Christ before God, Who is there “forever” (Psa 41:12). The double affirmation “Amen and Amen” underlines this result. With this, the first book of Psalms also ends.

Copyright Statement
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 41". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.