Matthew Poole's Commentary
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.THE ARGUMENT
The occasion of this Psalm was manifestly some sore disease or affliction which God had inflicted upon David, and which gave his enemies opportunity to discover their hatred and malice against him.
David showeth God’s care of the poor, Psalm 41:1-3. He confesseth his sins, and complaineth of his enemies’ treachery, Psalm 41:4-9; but fleeth to God for succour, Psalm 41:10-13.
That considereth; or, that carries himself wisely and prudently with or towards him, not rashly and foolishly censures and condemns him, as my pretended friends dealt with me, Psalm 41:8; nor insulteth over him, which is a foolish as well as wicked thing; but considereth that it may be his own case, and therefore pitieth and helpeth him; which is the likeliest way to obtain the like pity for himself in his trouble.
The poor; or rather, the weak, or sick, or languishing person, as may be gathered by comparing this with Psalm 41:3, where the mercy which he is supposed to have afforded to him is returned upon himself, and with Psalm 41:8.
The Lord will deliver him; either,
1. The poor afflicted man. Though his enemies conclude his case to bc desperate, Psalm 41:8, God will confute them, and deliver him. Or,
2. The considerer of the poor, of whom also this same pronoun him is confessedly meant, Psalm 41:2,3. And so it is a promise of recompence, the wise and merciful man shall find mercy.
The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.Keep him alive, Heb. quicken him, i.e. revive and restore him. Either he will preserve him from trouble; or if God see trouble necessary or fit for him, and therefore suffer him to fall into it, he will raise him out of it.
Unto the will of his enemies, i.e. to destruction, which they earnestly desire and endeavour to procure.
The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.Either,
1. Change or overturn his bed of sickness; which is done when a man is restored to health. Or rather,
2. Give him ease and comfort, which sick men receive by the help of those who turn and stir their whole bed, to make it soft and easy for them; for the words foregoing and following these suppose him to be and continue in a state of sickness. Thus the Lord elsewhere compares himself to a servant, waiting upon his people at table, Luke 12:37; as here, to one that makes their bed; metaphors implying strange condescension.
I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.My soul, i.e. either,
1. Myself, to wit, my body. So it is a double synecdoche. And the soul is so taken Psalm 16:10. Or,
2. My soul properly so called; which is said to be healed, when it is pardoned and purged, as 2 Chronicles 30:20 Isaiah 53:5, compared with 1 Peter 2:24 Matthew 13:15, compared with Mark 4:12 Jam 5:16. So he strikes at the root of his misery, and prays for the removal of the sin of his soul, as the cause of the disease of his body.
For I have sinned against thee: this may be added, either,
1. As a reason or motive to God; Grant this request, for I have sinned, and therefore thy grace in healing me will be more glorious and admirable. Or, for I acknowledge that I have sinned; for the act is oft put for the declaration of it, as Exodus 33:13 Psalm 51:5. Or,
2. As a reason moving him thus to pray, I said, Lord, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; and great reason I had to say so, for I have sinned against thee.
Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish?Speak evil of me; vent their ill wishes against me, in the following words.
And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he telleth it.To see me; to visit me in my sickness, according to the custom.
He speaketh vanity, or falsehood; pretending sympathy with me, and friendship to me, whilst they plot mischief in their hearts against me.
His heart gathereth iniquity to itself; even when he is with me, and pretends hearty affection to me, his heart cannot forbear its customary practice of meditating and devising mischief against me; for which he watcheth and seeketh for all occasions from my speeches, or carriage, or the circumstances of my condition, which he observes.
He telleth it, partly to delight his companions, and partly to encourage them to and direct them in their malicious designs against me.
All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt.Whisper together against me, i.e. secretly defame me, and closely plot against me.
An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more.An evil disease, Heb. a word or thing of Belial, i.e. either,
1. Some wicked calumny which they had raised, and which stuck close to him. Or,
2. His great wickedness, whereof this is a sign. Or rather,
3. This sore disease or mischief; either sent upon him in way of vengeance for his horrid crimes; or such as God useth to inflict upon the sons of Belial, to show that he is in truth such a one, whatsoever he pretends to the contrary.
He shall rise up no more; seeing God hath begun to punish him, he will make an end of him.
Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.Mine own familiar friend; he means either Ahithophel, or some other perfidious counsellor or courtier, who was a type of Judas, to whom therefore it is applied, John 13:18, as David was a type of Christ in being thus betrayed. So these words were literally fulfilled in David, and yet the Holy Ghost, which dictated them, looked further in them, even to Christ and Judas, in whom they received a further and fuller accomplishment.
Hath lifted up his heel; a phrase implying injury, joined with insolency and contempt; taken from an unruly horse, which kicks at him that owns and feeds him.
But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.Be merciful unto me: they censure me grievously, and conclude my case to be desperate; but, Lord, do thou vindicate me, and confute them.
That I may requite them; or, and I will requite them, i.e. punish them for their malicious, and perfidious, and wicked practices; which, being now a magistrate, he was obliged to revenge, Romans 13:4; although when he was a private person, he was so far from revenging evil, that he rendered good for it, as we see, Psalm 35:12,13, and elsewhere.
By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.Thou favourest me; bearest a good will to me, and art resolved to make good thy promises to me, and wilt plead my righteous cause against them.
Because mine enemy doth not triumph over me; because hitherto thou hast helped and supported me, and prolonged my days to the disappointment of their hopes and designed triumphs. This mercy I thankfully receive as a token of further mercy. Compare 1 Samuel 17:37 2 Corinthians 1:9,10.
And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.In mine integrity; as I have kept my integrity, so thou hast kept me in and with it. Or, for mine integrity; because thou hast seen my innocency, notwithstanding all the calumnies of mine enemies; and thou hast promised and usest to afford thy protection to the innocent and upright.
Settest me before thy face for ever; or, hast confirmed or established me in thy presence (i.e. either under thine eye and special care; or to minister unto thee, not only in thy temple, but as a king over thy people, or in that land, where thou art peculiarly present) for ever; either,
1. Properly; and so this was done to David, either in his own person, partly here, and partly in the next life; or in regard of his posterity, in whom the kingdom was established for ever. Or,
2. For my whole life, or for a long time, as that phrase is commonly used.
Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.From everlasting, and to everlasting; or, from age to age, as long as the world lasts, and to all eternity. Amen signifies a hearty assent and approbation, and withal an earnest desire and confidence, of the thing to which it is annexed. And as the Psalms are divided into five books, so each of them is closed with this word; the first here, the second Psalm 72, the third Psalm 89, the fourth Psalm 106, the last in the end of Psalm 150: the doubling of the word shows the fervency of his spirit in this work of praising God.