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Bible Commentaries

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms

Psalms 41

Verses 1-13

Psalms 41:1-13

V. 1- 3. It is generally agreed, that David wrote this Psalm during Absalom’s rebellion, when, it seems, his other afflictions were accompanied with sickness : or rather he had previously been visited with some dangerous disorder, from which his enemies hoped he would not recover; and this emboldened them in their treasonable practices. (Notes, 4- 8. Psalms 30:1-2. Psalms 38:3-10.) Finding his own afflictions aggravated by their cruelty and perfidy ; he was led to commend that temper of mind, which disposed a man to consider, and compassionate and relieve, the poor and afflicted; and to declare him happy who possessed it. Some render the first clause "Blessed is he that judgeth wisely of the poor ’not ’ condemning him as accursed whom God doth visit,’ (as Job’s friends did him ;) ’ knowing that there are divers ’ causes why God layeth his hand upon us, yea and afterward he restoreth us.’ It is, however, generally understood to refer to the onsiderate, active, and liberal kindness, shewn to the poor and afflicted, from genuine faith and love. (Marg. Ref. a.) Such a becoming conduct would ensure a gracious recompence from God; either exemption from the calamities, which in evil times befell others, the preservation of life, with many blessings, and protection from envious and spiteful enemies ; or, in case of sickness, inward strength and various alleviations, (as when the bed of tlie sick is turned, and smoothed to aid their repose,) till health was restored, or till a peaceful death terminated all his sorrows. It is astonishing to the student of scripture, in reading the most admired writings of pr.gan moralists, to observe, how entirely this branch of morality is omitted! Certainly it is peculiar to the scriptures, and to writings formed on them. (P. O. Deut. xv, conclusion.)

V. 4- 8. David was conscious, that his affliction was a correction for his sins; and with humble confessions he pleaded especially for " the healing of his soul but his enemies reviled him, and impatiently expected his death, and hoped that his very name and memory would be disgraced. Recollecting their former behaviour, and comparing it with their conduct in following Absalom, he perceived that their apparent kindness, and their visits, were only intended to impose on him with vain professions of attachment, and to gain an opportunity of collecting materials of slander and reproach. They maliciously adverted to every one of his words, and every part of his behaviour; treasuring up in their mind whatever could be unfavorably interpreted, and then whispering it abroad among the people, to prejudice them against him and his government. ( 2 Samuel 15:1-11.) And, considering his malady as a proof of his guilt, (" a thing of Belial," niarg.) they exulted in the hope that he would sink under it to rise no more.

V. 9. As David was a type of Christ, so was Ahithophcl in some respects of Judas. The latter clause of this verse was fulfilled in Judas’s ungrateful and cruel treachery. But Christ never trusted in him, as David had confided in Ahithophel ; and therefore the former part was more suited to the type than to the Antitype.

( Notes, Psalms 55:12-15; Psalms 55:20-21. Psalms 109:2-5. 2 Samuel 15:12; 2 Samuel 16:20-23; 2 Samuel 17:11. John 13:18-30.) ( The sufferings of the church, like those of her Redeemer, generally begin at home: ...’ and, natural as it may seem, they, who have waxed ’ fat upon her bounty, are sometimes the first to " lift up ’"the heel" against her. Bp. Home. (Note, Deuteronomy 32:15.)

V. 10. All this doth not discourage me, when I think of thy mercy, C) Lord ; . . . I am not so low (8), but ’ contrary to their expectation, thou art able to restore me to my throne, from whence they have driven me : . . . and then I shall punish them, according as my office, and ’ their wickedness, requires.’ Bp. Patrick.

V. 11- 13. The Psalmist, amidst his complicated trials, concluded with lively acting of faith, and adoring praises. Had not God " favoured him," or delighted in him, his enemy would certainly before that time have triumphed over him. (Notes, Psalms 22:7-8. Isaiah 42:1-4. Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 17:5-8; Matthew 27:39-44.) He was still upheld in an upright and conscientious adherence to the cause of God and religion, and in assured hope of future felicity ; and therefore he praised the LORD God of Israel, calling on all the people, by repeating earnestly " Amen," (or Let it be even so.) to his zealous adorations, to make them their own.

(Notes, Psalms 72:17-19; Psalms 89:52. Psalms 106:47-48. Matthew 6:13. Ephesians 1:3-8. 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 Peter 4:9-11; 1 Peter 5:10-11. Revelation 4:6-11; Revelation 5:8-14; Revelation 19:16.)


The people of God are not exempted from poverty, sickness, or any external affliction : but he considers their case and wants, and vouchsafes them relief proportioned to the exigency: he delivers them from trouble, preserves their lives, and gives them blessings on earth, as long as this is really good for them : he does not give them over unto the will of their enemies ; and even upon the bed of languishing sickness, which is so depressing to nature, he frequently communicates such strength and consolation, as render them calm and easy. After the Lord’s example of kindness and compassion, the believer has also learned to consider his poor and afflicted brethren. In them he sees the once suffering Saviour ; and gratitude to him unites with love to his people, in disposing him to alleviate their sorrows, and supply their wants, according to his opportunity and ability : nor does he exclude any other sufferers from his deep compassion, and such relief as he can afford them ; or decline labour and self-denial in order to confer it. Thus he evidences the reality of his faith, and obtains the assurances of gracious supports from God, when afflictions fall to his lot. But nothing is so distressing to the contrite believer, as a sense of the. divine displeasure, guilt on his conscience, and the prevalence of sin in his heart: pain and sickness will remind him to pray especially for pardoning mercy, and for the healing of his soul, which is wounded and diseased, because he has sinned against the Lord. (Note, Jeremiah 17:14.) The most humble and upright may well expect to meet with enmity, contempt, treachery, and ingratitude from the wicked; when the holy Jesus was not only despised and rejected of men, but was betrayed and sold by one of his own apostles, whom lie had treated with the utmost kindness, and distinguished by the most valuable external privileges. Let us then continually look unto Jesus, that we may not be stumbled or discouraged, if without cause many calumniate or injure us, and wish for and even seek to accomplish our death, or rejoice and insult over our distresses and disgrace. Should any speciously profess religion, and friendship to us, court our acquaintance, and insinuate themselves into our confidence and affection, on purpose to slander and betray us ; let us still remember that Christ met with far baser treatment in all these respects, than we can do ; and if we in any measure walk in his steps, we must expect a proportionate share of enmity, contempt, and ingratitude. (Notes, John 15:17-21. 1 Peter 4:12-16.) He, being risen from the dead, and constituted Judge of all, will requite all his obstinate enemies : but in our private capacity we must not desire to avenge ourselves, but copy his example, when he prayed for the forgiveness of his murderers. However we may be tempted and afflicted, it is a token for good, if Satan our enemy be not permitted to triumph over us : and if the Lord be merciful to us, and favour us, and uphold us in our integrity, " he will set us "before his face forever;" and then our enemies will finally be subdued, and all our sorrows terminated. In the anticipation of faith and hope, let us then on earth solace ourselves, under our conflicts and sorrows, by beginning the work of heaven ; and give our cordial assent to those praises, which the redeemed are continually rendering to their God and Saviour, saying, " Blessed be the LORD God " of Israel, from everlasting and to everlasting. Amen, " and Amen."

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Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 41". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. 1804.