Wednesday of Pentecost 5 – Psalm 41

Blessed is the one who considers the poor!
    In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him;
the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
    he is called blessed in the land;
    you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.
The Lord sustains him on his sickbed;
    in his illness you restore him to full health.

As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me;
    heal me, for I have sinned against you!”
My enemies say of me in malice,
    “When will he die, and his name perish?”
And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words,
    while his heart gathers iniquity;
    when he goes out, he tells it abroad.
All who hate me whisper together about me;
    they imagine the worst for me.

They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him;
    he will not rise again from where he lies.”
Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
    who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
10 But you, O Lord, be gracious to me,
    and raise me up, that I may repay them!

11 By this I know that you delight in me:
    my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.
12 But you have upheld me because of my integrity,
    and set me in your presence forever.

13 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!
Amen and Amen.

A few weeks ago, driving home from a wedding with my wife and two children, I started not feeling very well. By the time our six-hour drive was over, I was truly not feeling well. My wife handed me one of the “at home” COVID tests. I was positive. She banished me to the bedroom, but to no avail. Our lengthy time together in the car meant we all came down with it. It was miserable. I have been sick like that before, but not often. After three days of wild fever dreams and serious headaches, I started to feel better. Within a week I was close to symptom free, but still have a bit of fatigue. At least I tell myself that, perhaps I am just getting old.

David seems to have written these words in a time of sickness. In verse three he confidently asserts that God sustains the blessed man on his sickbed. Was David speaking in the past or the future tense at that point? Was he anticipating God’s deliverance or reflecting upon it? I don’t think I could have written much poetry when I was feverishly sick. Or if I did, I think it might have been even more unintelligible than my usual attempts at poetry.

But David’s problems go even deeper. Apparently, when King David fell ill his political enemies started to circle like buzzards. Even a friend, one who ate his bread, lifted the heel against him. They gloated that an evil thing had befallen him; he would not rise.  They gathered together and imagined the worst for him. Have you read the breathless reports of Putin’s illnesses? I cannot say whether the reports have merit, but the eager expectation of his demise expressed by some is what I think David was hearing about himself.

David through all of this confesses his confidence in God. The enemy will not shout in triumph over him. But read those last verses of this psalm carefully. David expects that God will set him in God’s presence “forever.” God is blessed from “everlasting to everlasting.” David was aware of his own mortality. He knew that recovery from this sickness and deliverance from this political threat was not eternal life. That was a gift which God had given him and no sickness, no enemy, not even death could take it away. God gave you that same gift on the day of your Baptism.

Scroll to Top