Mercy for the Merciful (1–3)
I think the NET states verse 1 the most clearly, “How blessed is the one who treats the poor properly.” Poor in this sense, is not simply understood as a lack of wealth, but powerlessness. We see over and over in the Law, as most clearly exemplified by Boaz in the book of Ruth, that God’s heart is that His people help those who are unable to help themselves—the poor, the alien sojourner, the orphan, and the widow. God’s heart pours out to these people and those who help them.
Confession and Vindication (4–9)
If God loves those who stand in the gap for the powerless and needy, then His heart burns against those who would take advantage. David is a man of integrity (v. 12) and one who lives out the truth of verse 1, taking care of the needy. However, if the events in this psalm surround the time of Absalom’s deceit, usurping David’s throne, then it’s possible that David sees himself as the powerless one.
David recognizes the part his sin has played in these events (v. 4), but this level of betrayal is too much to bear. So much so, that Jesus alludes to verse 9 when referring to Judas (Jn. 13:18), the most infamous betrayer of all time.
The Confidence of the Upright (10–12)
One repeated theme of the Bible is that the victory of the wicked is short lived. We cry out like the prophets Habakkuk, Malachi, and others that it seems like the unrighteous always win, while those who do good always lose. Deep down we sometimes question the character of God—why do bad things happen to good people? However, as the Lord said to Habakkuk, “I’m about to do something that you wouldn’t believe if you were told!” (Hab. 1:5).
David asks for mercy, and he understands that his righteousness and integrity before the Lord will ultimately be rewarded. Although from our perspective it seems like the wicked have victory, we know the victory belongs to the Lord and He is faithful to finish what He started.
The Last Word (13)
Because God is faithful, He is to be praised. You may remember from previous Jumpstarts that the individual psalms were collected as part of the Temple hymn book, so Psalm 41 is the last psalm for the first hymnal. Thus, verse 13 provides the great confession of God’s people to conclude this particular hymnal—Yahweh is worthy of praise (Baruch, “blessed be”), the God of the people of Israel (His chosen people), forever and ever, (with the twofold response) Amen and Amen!
Can you say today, like David, that that you are a person of integrity? David recognized that his sin is against the Lord (v. 4). His confession here is quite short, but looking at Psalm 51 and others, his confessions can be quite extensive. Take some time to reflect on the truths of this Psalm, considering the character of God, and if there is anything in your life to confess, don’t wait!
By: Tyler Short