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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 41



Verse 1

1. Considereth the poor—A duty of the first rank in Christian morality. It is a discreet and appreciative care, flowing from a true sympathy in the welfare both of soul and body. See Matthew 25:36.

Poor—The word means, sick, weak, or helpless, from whatever cause. David had practiced this sympathy for the sick and afflicted, (Psalms 35:13-14,) and while he comforts himself with the promise that God will remember him now and reward him good, his words also are an implied rebuke of the conduct of his enemies. See Psalms 41:6-7, and Psalms 35:15

Verse 2

2. Preserve him—Namely, from destruction and from the hurtfulness of adversity.

Keep him alive—Restore him to health, raise him up.

Blessed upon the earth—He shall be happy, prosperous in the land.

Wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies—They shall gain no advantage over him on account of his sickness.

Verse 3

3. Strengthen him—The figure belongs to the sick bed, Thou wilt prop him up, support him, as a careful nurse would a sick person. See Song of Solomon 2:6.

Make all his bed—Turn, turn over, change all his bed, namely, for the greater ease and comfort of the sick one. The most delicate and tender care is here described. God’s loving presence will make a sick bed easy. As the word rendered “make,” here, properly means to turn, and the word “bed” is derived from the verb to lie down, and sometimes means recumbency, it has been supposed that the turning the sick bed, that is, the recumbency or bedridden condition, denotes convalescence. Thus Delitzsch: “He gives complete turn to the sick bed towards recovery.” But the former is the more easy and natural sense.

Verse 4

4. I said—The “I” is emphatic. “As for me, I said,” etc. It stands opposed to “mine enemies speak,” etc., Psalms 41:5. The contrast is given by a comparison of Psalms 41:1-3 with Psalms 41:5-8.

I have sinned—Here is a depth of contrition, and an openness of confession, which point unmistakably to the psalmist’s one great sinforgiven, indeed, but always lamented.

Verse 5

5. When shall he die—This shows that his death was expected, and his enemies were impatient for it.

His name perish—His memorial perish. They wished to blot out his fame, and influence, and posterity.

Verse 6

6. If he come to see me—Professedly to inquire after my health as a friend.

He speaketh vanity—His professions of friendship are empty and hypocritical.

His heart gathereth iniquity—Not only is his false profession of friendship an accumulation of his guilt, but it is in his heart even there to gather up material for my injury. Nay, this was the real object of his professedly friendly visit. Compare with this the feigned friendship but real malignity of Christ’s enemies. Luke 20:20.

He telleth it—He reports my sickness, and my private conversation, in a way to hurt me with the people.

Verse 7

7. Whisper together—The conspiracy was conducted with the utmost privacy.

Verse 8

8. An evil disease… cleaveth fast unto him—Hebrew, An affair of Belial is firm in him. On Belial, see Psalms 18:4. דבר, (dabar,) (English version, disease,) may take the sense of matter, cause, forensically, that is, suit at law, as Exodus 18:16 ; Exodus 18:19-20; and יצוק, (yatzook,) (English version, cleaveth fast,) takes the sense of firmness, fixedness, as in Job 41:23, “they are firm in themselves;” and Job 41:24, “His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.” [Hebrews of vers. 15, 16.] The sense is, that David’s sickness was regarded as evidence of a hopeless controversy with God, in which the king, who is supposed to be fixed and stubborn, would surely fall.

Verse 9

9. Yea— גם, (gam,) here takes the sense of also, moreover, even, as giving an accession to what had already been said. Not only had enemies conspired against him, but even his own familiar friend— Hebrew, A man of my peace, my trusted counsellor.

Which did eat of my bread—My table companion. A designation of familiar confidence. See a further description, Psalms 55:13-14.

Hath lifted up his heel—Hebrew, hath magnified his heel, a proverbial phrase for a formidable and treacherous conspiracy. On “heel,” see note on Psalms 49:5, where the same word occurs. The reference is to Ahithophel, 2 Samuel 16:23. Our Lord quotes this passage as prophetic of Judas Iscariot, John 13:18, where in Psalms 41:9 he interprets, “lifted up his heel,” by “one of you shall betray me.” See the introductory note of this psalm.

Verse 10

10. That I may requite them—Their sin was high treason, which by the laws of all nations is punishable with death. But as they had conspired against the throne of David no less than against his person, the issue lay primarily between them and God, who had anointed David as king, and promised perpetuity to his dynasty. The stability of government, involving the public welfare, demanded that proper notice should be taken of their proceedings.

Verse 11

11. By this I know—Already David discovers the hand of God in his favour, because, although not yet restored to health and power, his enemies do not succeed.

Verse 12

12. And as for me—Literally, And I. The “I” is emphatic, as in Psalms 41:4. He contrasts God’s treatment towards him with that of his enemies, whom God had doomed to destruction.

Mine integrity—As between him and his enemies David could plead his blamelessness, but as between his soul and God he confessed, as in Psalms 41:4, his sin.

Settest me before thy face—A mark of noble rank and royal favour. See Psalms 34:16.

For ever—To eternity, which only is the duration of this rule and dignity of David, realized in his illustrious seed, Messiah, who is blessed for evermore.

Verse 13

13. From everlasting, and to everlasting—Literally, from the eternity, and unto the eternity. The sentence must be taken literally, and proves the faith of the author in the immortality of man. The Amen, and Amen, are a climax of the doctrine of the doxology, and of faith in the word of God.


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 41:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

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