Theme: Regard for the Needy
In this week’s lessons we see that there is a connection between how we treat other people and what we want the Lord to do for us.
Scripture: Psalm 41:1-13
Psalm 40 ended with the confession that the psalmist was “poor and needy” (v. 17). Psalm 41 picks up at this point with a promise of blessing for the one who has regard for just such needy people. “Weak” is the word used. And that is what the psalmist is! He is in an extremely low point in life. He is sick, slandered by malicious enemies, surrounded by false friends, even betrayed by one of his close friends, whom he trusted. Besides, he is aware, as we should all be, that he is a sinner and therefore not without guilt of his own. These conditions have been preying on his mind and have distressed him.
The theme of the psalm is mercy. The word is found in verses 4 and 10 in an impassioned plea to God for mercy. But the idea is also present in the opening stanza in the blessing pronounced upon those who have regard for the weak, that is, upon those who show the weak mercy. It is also present by contrast in the description of the poet’s enemies and false friends in the middle portion of the psalm, since his complaint is that they have not been merciful to him in his sickness, as he has been to others.
The summary of Psalm 41 is in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matt. 5:7). The exposition is in the Olivet Discourse: “Come, you blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matt. 25:34-36).
Like so many of the psalms, this one falls into three easily discernable parts: 1) a statement of the psalmist’s theme (vv. 1-3); 2) a plea for mercy in which he states his sad condition (vv. 4-10); and 3) a final expression of his very firm confidence in God (vv. 11-13). It is an appropriate ending to the first book of Psalms.
Where do we see the teaching of Psalm 41 in the New Testament?
From the study, how does Dr. Boice outline this psalm?
Reflection: Have you ever felt what the psalmist is expressing here? How did God show mercy to you during this time?
Application: What are some very practical ways you can show mercy to others?