Psalm 41:1
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
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(1) Blessed is he.—This general statement of the great law of sympathy and benevolence—fine and noble however we take it—may be explained in different ways, according as we take the Hebrew word dal as poor, with the LXX. and Vulg. (comp. Exodus 30:15), or with the margin, as sick, weak in body (comp. Genesis 41:19), or give it an ethical sense, sick at heart. (Comp. 2Samuel 13:4.) The context favours one of the two latter, and the choice between them depends on whether we take the author’s sickness to be real or figurative. Psalm 41:3 strongly favours the view that the sickness is physical.

Considereth.—The Hebrew word implies wise as well as kindly consideration. So LXX. and Vulg., “he that understands.”

Psalm 41:1. Blessed is he that considereth the poor — Or, poor man; that conducts himself wisely and prudently toward him; as משׂכיל, maschil, properly signifies, that does not rashly and foolishly censure and condemn him, much less insult over him, but considers his case with prudence and tenderness, remembering it may be his own, and therefore pities and helps him; and thus takes the likeliest way to obtain similar pity for himself when in trouble. But the word דלdal, here rendered the poor, means the weak, sick, or languishing person, as appears by comparing this with Psalm 41:3, where the mercy which he is supposed to have afforded to him is returned to himself, and with Psalm 41:8. To conduct ourselves wisely toward such, is to take cognizance of their wants and miseries; to sympathize with them, and judge charitably concerning them; to pity and relieve them according to our power, or to take measures to provide for their relief. The Lord will deliver him — The poor afflicted man. Though his enemies conclude his case to be desperate, Psalm 41:8, God will confute them and deliver him. Or, rather, the considerer of the poor, the person that visits and relieves him. And so it is a promise of recompense. The wise and merciful man shall find mercy.

41:1-4 The people of God are not free from poverty, sickness, or outward affliction, but the Lord will consider their case, and send due supplies. From his Lord's example the believer learns to consider his poor and afflicted brethren. This branch of godliness is usually recompensed with temporal blessings. But nothing is so distressing to the contrite believer, as a fear or sense of the Divine displeasure, or of sin in his heart. Sin is the sickness of the soul; pardoning mercy heals it, renewing grace heals it, and for this spiritual healing we should be more earnest than for bodily health.Blessed is he - See the notes at Psalm 1:1. Literally, "Oh the blessings of him that considers the poor." The object is to describe the advantages of doing what is here said; or the excellence of the spirit which would be manifested in such a case, and the effect which this would have on his own happiness. These happy effects are described in the remainder of this verse, and in the two following verses.

That considereth - The word used here - from שׂכל śâkal - means properly to look at, to behold; then, to be prudent or circumspect; then, to attend to; and then in general to act prudently, wisely, intelligently, in any case. Here it means to attend to; to show an interest in; to care for. The idea is that of not neglecting; not passing by; not being indifferent to; not being hard-hearted and uncharitable toward.

The poor - Margin, "the weak," or "the sick." The word used in the Hebrew - דל dal - means properly something hanging or swinging, as of pendulous boughs or branches; and then, that which is weak, feeble, powerless. Thus it comes to denote those who are feeble and helpless either by poverty or by disease, and is used with a general reference to those who are in slow or humble condition, and who need the aid of others. The statement here is of a general nature - that he is blessed who shows proper sympathy for all of that class: for those who need the sympathy of others from any cause - poverty, sickness, a low condition, or trouble. The particular thing here referred to was a case of sickness; where one was borne down by disease, perhaps brought on by mental sorrow, and when he particularly needed the sympathy of his friends. See Psalm 41:5-8.

The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble - Margin, as in Hebrew: "in the day of evil." This is the first happy effect or result of showing proper sympathy with others in their troubles. It is a statement of the general principle that the Lord will deal with us as we do with others. See this principle stated and illustrated in Psalm 18:24-26.


Ps 41:1-13. The Psalmist celebrates the blessedness of those who compassionate the poor, conduct strongly contrasted with the spite of his enemies and neglect of his friends in his calamity. He prays for God's mercy in view of his ill desert, and, in confidence of relief, and that God will vindicate his cause, he closes with a doxology.

1-3. God rewards kindness to the poor (Pr 19:17). From Ps 41:2, 11 it may be inferred that the Psalmist describes his own conduct.

poor—in person, position, and possessions.

1 Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.

2 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.

3 The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.

Psalm 41:1

"Blessed is he that considereth the poor." This is the third Psalm opening with a benediction, and there is a growth in it beyond the first two. To search the word of God comes first, pardoned sin is second, and now the forgiven sinner brings forth fruit unto God available for the good of others. The word used is as emphatic as in the former cases, and so is the blessing which follows it. The poor intended, are such as are poor in substance, weak in bodily strength, despised in repute, and desponding in spirit. These are mostly avoided and frequently scorned. The worldly proverb bequeathes the hindmost to one who has no mercy: The sick and the sorry are poor company, and the world deserts them as the Amalekite left his dying servant. Such as have been made partakers of divine grace receive a tenderer nature, and are not hardened against their own flesh and blood; they undertake the cause of the down trodden, and turn their minds seriously to the promotion of their welfare. They do not toss them a penny and go on their way, but enquire into their sorrows, sift out their cause, study the best ways for their relief, and practically come to their rescue; such as these have the mark of the divine favour plainly upon them, and are as surely the sheep of the Lord's pasture as if they wore a brand upon their foreheads. They are not said to have considered the poor years ago, but they still do so. Stale benevolence, when boasted of, argues present churlishness. First and foremost, yea, far above all others put together in tender compassion for the needy is our Lord Jesus, who so remembered our low estate, that though he was rich, for our sakes he became poor. All his attributes were charged with the task of our uplifting. He weighed our case and came in the fulness of wisdom to execute the wonderful work of mercy by which we are redeemed from our destructions. Wretchedness excited his pity, misery moved his mercy, and thrice blessed is he both by his God and his saints for his attentive care and wise action towards us. He still considereth us; his mercy is always in the present tense, and so let our praises be.

"The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble." The compassionate lover of the poor thought of others and therefore God will think of him. God measures to us with our own bushel. Days of trouble come even to the most generous, and they have made the wisest provision for rainy days who have lent shelter to others when times were better with them. The promise is not that the generous saint shall have no trouble, but that he shall be preserved in it, and in due time brought out of it. How true was this of our Lord I never trouble deeper nor triumph brighter than his, and glory be to his name, he secures the ultimate victory of all his blood-bought ones. Would that they all were more like him in putting on bowels of compassion to the poor. Much blessedness they miss who stint their alms. The joy of doing good, the sweet reaction of another's happiness, the approving smile of heaven upon the heart, if not upon the estate; all these the stubborn soul knows nothing of. Selfishness bears in itself a curse, it is a cancer in the heart; while liberality is happiness, and maketh fat the bones. In dark days we cannot rest upon the supposed merit of almsgiving, but still the music of memory brings with it no mean solace when it tells of widows and orphans whom we have succoured, and prisoners and sick folk to whom we have ministered.

Psalm 41:2

"The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive." His noblest life shall be immortal, and even his mortal life shall be sacredly guarded by the power of Jehovah. Jesus lived on till his hour came, nor could the devices of crafty Herod take away his life till the destined hour had struck; and even then no man took his life from him, but he laid it down of himself, to take it again. Here is the portion of all those who are made like their Lord, they bless and they shall be blessed, they preserve and shall be preserved, they watch over the lives of others and they themselves shall be precious in the sight of the Lord. The miser like the hog is of no use till he is dead - then let him die; the righteous like the ox is of service during life - then let him live. "And he shall be blessed upon the earth." Prosperity shall attend him. His cruse of oil shall not be dried up because he fed the poor prophet. He shall cut from his roll of cloth and find it longer at both ends.

"There was a man, and some did count him mad,

The more he gave away the more he had."

If temporal gains be not given him, spirituals shall be doubled to him. His little shall be blessed, bread and water shall be a feast to him. The liberal are and must be blessed even here; they have a present as well as future portion. Our Lord's real blessedness of heart in the joy that was set before him is a subject worthy of earnest thought, especially as it is the picture of the blessing which all liberal saints may look for. "And thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies." He helped the distressed, and now he shall find a champion in his God. What would not the good man's enemies do to him if they had him at their disposal? Better be in a pit with vipers than be at the mercy of persecutors. This sentence sets before us a sweet negative, and yet it were not easy to have seen how it could be true of our Lord Jesus, did we not know that although he was exempted from much of blessing, being made a curse for us, yet even he was not altogether nor for ever left of God, but in due time was exalted above all his enemies.

Psalm 41:3

"The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing." The everlasting arms shall stay up his soul as friendly hands and downy pillows stay up the body of the sick. How tender and sympathising is this image; how near it brings our God to our infirmities and sicknesses! Whoever heard this of the old heathen Jove, or of the gods of India or China? This is language peculiar to the God of Israel; he it is who deigns to become nurse and attendant upon good men. If he smites with one hand he sustains with the other. Oh, it is blessed fainting when one falls upon the Lord's own bosom, and is upborne thereby! Grace is the best of restoratives; divine love is the noblest stimulant for a languishing patient; it makes the soul strong as a giant, even when the aching bones are breaking through the skin. No physician like the Lord, no tonic like his promise, no wine like his love. "Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness." What, doth the Lord turn bedmaker to his sick children? Herein is love indeed. Who would not consider the poor if such be the promised reward? A bed soon grows hard when the body is weary with tossing to and fro upon it, but grace gives patience, and God's smile gives peace, and the bed is made soft because the man's heart is content; the pillows are downy because the head is peaceful. Note that the Lord will make all his bed, from head to foot. What considerate and indefatigable kindness! Our dear and ever blessed Lord Jesus, though in all respects an inheritor of this promise, for our sakes condescended to forego the blessing, and died on a cross and not upon a bed; yet, even there, he was after awhile upheld and cheered by the Lord his God, so that he died in triumph.

We must not imagine that the benediction pronounced in these three verses belongs to all who casually give money to the poor, or leave it in their wills, or contribute to societies. Such do well, or act from mere custom, as the case may be, but they are not here alluded to. The blessing is for those whose habit it is to love their neighbour as themselves, and who for Christ's sake feed the hungry and clothe the naked. To imagine a man to be a saint who does not consider the poor as he has ability, is to conceive the fruitless fig tree to be acceptable; there will be sharp dealing with many professors on this point in the day when the King cometh in his glory. 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.

Blessed is he that considereth the poor,.... Not the poor of the world in common, nor poor saints in particular, but some single poor man; for the word is in the singular number, and designs our Lord Jesus Christ, who, in Psalm 40:17, is said to be "poor and needy": and so read the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions here; who became poor for our sakes, that we might be enriched by his poverty; being born of poor parents, educated in a mean manner, and in public life was ministered to by others: the word (q) here used signifies one that is attenuated, weak, and exhausted either of his substance or strength, or both; as Christ was in his state of humiliation, when he was emptied of his riches, and, though Lord of all, had not where to lay his head; and whose strength was dried up like a potsherd, when he suffered on the cross; and indeed at best he was encompassed with weaknesses and infirmities: and in this his low estate he is to be wisely considered, or attended to with wisdom and understanding; and he may be said wisely to consider him, who considers how great a person he is, that came into such a low estate for us; not a mere man, but above angels and men, that has all the perfections of deity in him, is the eternal Son of God, truly and properly God, and the Creator of all things, and Governor of the universe; which consideration will engage to and encourage faith and hope in him, lead to adore his wonderful grace, and to admire his condescension and humility in becoming poor and weak; as also who considers that the poverty of Christ was for our sakes, and that we might be made rich with the riches of grace and glory; and considers it so as not to be offended with it; see Matthew 11:6; and which may serve to support us under all meanness and infirmity, and in whatsoever estate saints may come into; and likewise who considers him in his offices which he exercised in that his estate as the apostle and high priest of our profession; and him in his exalted state in heaven; see Hebrews 12:3; in a word, he wisely considers him, who believes in him as his Saviour, prizes him as the pearl of great price, cleaves close unto him, and follows him wherever he goes; who desires to know more of him, is concerned for his honour, interest, kingdom and glory, and pities his poor members, and freely and bountifully communicates to them; and so the Targum,

"blessed is the man that wisely considers the afflictions of the poor, that he may have mercy on him;''

and such an one is an happy man, and the following things said of him prove him to be so;

the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble: or "in the evil day" (r); out of all his trouble, temporal and spiritual, of body and soul; in every time of affliction, private and personal; or in a time of public calamity; perhaps reference may be had to the time of Jerusalem's destruction, which was a time of great tribulation, Matthew 24:21; when those who did not consider Christ in his poor and low estate, but despised and rejected him, were destroyed; and such as did were saved from that calamity: and it may also include the day of judgment, which is the evil day, unto which the wicked are reserved, and when they will be punished with everlasting destruction; but then those that consider Christ, and believe in him, will be saved from wrath. Some (s) take these words, with what follows in the two next verses, as a prayer, and as delivered by him that visits the sick, for his comfort; and so Joseph Kimchi interprets it of an honourable man visiting a sick man, and instructing and comforting him with such words as these, that "the Lord will deliver him", &c.

(q) "tenuem", Montanus, Cocceius; "attenuatum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "the poor weakling", Ainsworth. (r) "in die mala", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus. (s) Vid. R. David Kimchium in loc.

<> Blessed is he that {a} considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

(a) Not condemning him as accused whom God visits, knowing that there are various reasons why God lays his hand on us, yea and afterwards he restores us.

1. Blessed] Or, happy, as in Psalm 41:2, and in Psalm 1:1. The word is to be distinguished from blessed in the doxology of Psalm 41:13, the tribute of human reverence to divine majesty. The last Psalm in Book I begins like the first with a beatitude.

that considereth the poor] Behaves considerately and intelligently towards those in affliction, shewing kindness and sympathy, and not judging them harshly. Cp. for illustration Psalm 35:13-14; James 1:27. The word rendered poor is different from that in Psalm 40:17. It means weak, and includes the sick as well as the poor. The sequel shews that it is the sick that the Psalmist has chiefly in mind. The P.B.V. the poor and needy follows the LXX, which may have been influenced by Psalm 40:17.

in time of trouble] R.V. in the day of evil, though in the day of trouble is given in Psalm 27:5 for the same phrase.

1–3. The blessings in store for the compassionate man.

Verse 1. - Blessed is he that considereth the poor. David had concluded the preceding psalm by calling himself "poor and needy." He commences the present one by pronouncing a blessing on all those who "consider," or tenderly regard, and, so far as they can, assist the peer and afflicted. It is not so much actual poverty, as humiliation and weakness, of which he is speaking. The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble; literally, in the day of evil. As he has pity on his fellow-men, so God will have pity upon him (comp. Matthew 6:14, 15; Matthew 10:42; Matthew 18:33; Proverbs 19:17; Ecclesiastes 11:1, etc.). Psalm 41:1(Heb.: 41:2-4) The Psalm opens by celebrating the lot, so rich in promises, of the sympathetic man. דּל is a general designation of the poor (e.g., Exodus 30:15), of the sick and weakly (Genesis 41:19), of the sick in mind (2 Samuel 13:4), and of that which outwardly or inwardly is tottering and consequently weak, frail. To show sympathising attention, thoughtful consideration towards such an one (השׂכּיל אל as in Nehemiah 8:13, cf. על Proverbs 17:20) has many promises. The verb חיּה, which elsewhere even means to call to life again (Psalm 71:20), in this instance side by side with preserving, viz., from destruction, has the signification of preserving life or prolonging life (as in Psalm 30:4; Psalm 22:30). The Pual אשּׁר signifies to be made happy (Proverbs 3:18), but also declaratively: to be pronounced happy (Isaiah 9:15); here, on account of the בּארץ that stands with it, it is the latter. The Chethb יעשּׁר sets forth as an independent promise that which the Ker ואשּׁר joins on to what has gone before as a consequence. אל, Psalm 41:3 (cf. Psalm 34:6 and frequently), expresses a negative with full sympathy in the utterance. נתן בּנפשׁ as in Psalm 27:12. The supporting in Psalm 41:4 is a keeping erect, which stops or arrests the man who is sinking down into death and the grave. דּוי ( equals davj, similar form to שׁמי, מעי, but wanting in the syllable before the tone) means sickness. If Psalm 41:4 is understood of the supporting of the head after the manner of one who waits upon the sick (cf. Sol 2:6), then Psalm 41:4 must, with Mendelssohn and others, be understood of the making of the couch or bed. But what then is neat by the word לך? משׁכּב is a sick-bed in Exodus 21:18 in the sense of being bedridden; and הפכתּ (cf. Psalm 30:12) is a changing of it into convalescence. By כל־משׁכבו is not meant the constant lying down of such an one, but the affliction that casts him down, in all its extent. This Jahve turns or changes, so often as such an one is taken ill (בחליו, at his falling sick, parallel with דוי על־ערשׂ דוי htiw). He gives a complete turn to the "sick-bed" towards recovery, so that not a vestige of the sickness remains behind.
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