Psalms 1 - 50by Mike Raiter
It is a great mistake to think that sickness is always a punishment for sin. Jesus corrected this wrong view (see John 9:1-3). However, it is also a mistake to think that sickness is never a result of sin. Since Psalm 38, David has been thinking about his sinfulness, and has acknowledged that it can have physical consequences (e.g. Psalm 38:3-8). So, when we fall ill, it is wise to search our hearts and see if there is sin that needs to be confessed and repented of.
David has searched his own heart, and admits his sin (41:4). However, sin is both what we do and what we have failed to do. While David acknowledges his sin, one area in which he has maintained integrity is his regard for the weak (v. 1). If we have not helped the weak in their time of need, how can we call upon God to help us? David, who presumably is very sick when he writes this psalm, trusts that the Lord will be merciful and restore him (vv. 2-3), just as he has been merciful towards the weak (v. 12).
David's illness had become well known, and he received visitors. Some, though, were hypocritical. In David's presence they pretended to show sorrow and concern. Once they left, they joined his enemies and rejoiced in his condition, confident he would soon die (vv. 5-9). In his gospel, John writes that Psalm 41:9 is fulfilled in the betrayal of Jesus by Judas (John 13:18). He, too, was a friend of the King, the Lord Jesus, and pretended to be loyal. Yet he was conspiring with Jesus' enemies. Here again we see that Jesus and the New Testament writers saw the Old Testament, particularly the Psalms, pointing forward to-and fulfilled in-the life and ministry of Jesus.
Psalm 41 is the conclusion to Book 1 of the five books of Psalms. It concludes on the same note of praise as all five books. Throughout these psalms David has shared his joys and sorrows, his sins and obedience, his times of walking close to God and his times of feeling forsaken. At the end, though, are words of praise: ″Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen″ (v. 13). This is the testimony of every believer.
Why does the Bible place such importance on care for the weak and needy? How can we maintain our integrity in this area?
What can we learn from Psalm 41, and other psalms, about a godly response to illness?