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Psalm 41

Assurance of God’s Help and a Plea for Healing

To the leader. A Psalm of David.


Happy are those who consider the poor;

the L ord delivers them in the day of trouble.


The L ord protects them and keeps them alive;

they are called happy in the land.

You do not give them up to the will of their enemies.


The L ord sustains them on their sickbed;

in their illness you heal all their infirmities.



As for me, I said, “O L ord, be gracious to me;

heal me, for I have sinned against you.”


My enemies wonder in malice

when I will die, and my name perish.


And when they come to see me, they utter empty words,

while their hearts gather mischief;

when they go out, they tell it abroad.


All who hate me whisper together about me;

they imagine the worst for me.



They think that a deadly thing has fastened on me,

that I will not rise again from where I lie.


Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted,

who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me.


But you, O L ord, be gracious to me,

and raise me up, that I may repay them.



By this I know that you are pleased with me;

because my enemy has not triumphed over me.


But you have upheld me because of my integrity,

and set me in your presence forever.



Blessed be the L ord, the God of Israel,

from everlasting to everlasting.

Amen and Amen.

8. An evil deed of Belial cleaved fast to him. From this verse it appears that they had thus conspired together for his destruction, on the ground that they regarded him as a wicked man, and a person worthy of a thousand deaths. The insolence and arrogance which they manifested towards him proceeded from the false and wicked judgment which they had formed concerning him, and of which he made mention in the beginning of the psalm. They say, therefore, that an evil deed of Belial holds him shut up, and, as it were, bound fast. This the verb יצוק, yatsuk, properly signifies; but in translating the verse I have followed the rendering which is most commonly received, reading cleaveth fast to him, etc. This expression is by others rendered spreadeth upon him, but this interpretation seems to me to be too constrained. As to the word Belial, we have already spoken of it in the eighteenth psalm. But as grammarians maintain that it is compounded of בלי, beli, and יעל, yaäl, which signify not to rise, the expression, thing of Belial, (for so it is literally in the Hebrew,) I understand in this place as meaning an extraordinary and hateful crime, which, as we commonly say, can never be expiated, and from which there is no possibility of escape; unless, perhaps, some would rather refer it to the affliction itself under which he labored, as if his enemies had said that he was seized by some incurable malady. 105105     There seems some difficulty as to what is meant by the words לעיעל, debar beliyaäl They are literally a word of Belial But word in Hebrew is often used for a thing or matter, Exodus 18:16; Deuteronomy 17:4; 1 Kings 14:13. And Belial is used by the Hebrews to designate any detestable wickedness. Thus the original words bring out the meaning which Calvin fixes upon them; and in the same sense they are understood by several critics. Dr Geddes reads “a lawless deed;” and he explains the expression as referring to “David’s sin in the case of Uriah; which his enemies now assign as the cause of his present calamity; as if they had said, ‘This sin hath at length overtaken him,’ etc.” Horsley reads, “Some cursed thing presseth heavily upon him;” and by “some cursed thing” he understands “the crime which they supposed to be the cause of the divine judgment upon him.” Fry reads, “Some hellish crime cleaveth unto him.” Cresswell adopts the interpretation of M. Flaminius: “They say, Some load of iniquity presses upon him, (or clings to him,) so that from the place where he lieth he will rise no more.” But there is another sense which the words will bear. The Septuagint reads, “λόγος παράνομος;” the Vulgate, “a wicked word;” the Chaldee, “a perverse word;” the Syriac, “a word of iniquity;” and the Arabic, “words contrary to law;” and so the expression may mean a grievous slander or calumny. This is the sense in which it is understood by Hammond. “And this,” says he, “is said to cleave to him on whom it is fastened; it being the nature of calumnies, when strongly affixed on any, to cleave fast, and leave some evil mark behind them: “Calumniare fortiter, aliquid hoerebit.” In our vulgar version it is “an evil disease.” And דבר, debar, no doubt sometimes signifies a plague or pestilence According to this rendering, the sense will be, he is smitten with an evil disease on account of his crimes, from which he will never recover. But whatever may be as to this, his enemies regarded it as absolutely certain that God was altogether hostile to him, and would never be reconciled towards him, since he was chastising him with so much severity. When they add in the following clause, he shall never be able to rise again, 106106     So Hammond reads with our English version, Now that he lieth he shall rise again no more, and thinks that this is a proverbial phrase which was in use among the Hebrews, and which was applied to any sort of ruin, as well as to that which is effected by bodily disease. “The calumniator,” he observes, “may destroy and ruin as well as the pestilence; and from him was David’s danger most frequently, and not from a pestilential disease.” this clearly shows that they utterly cut off from him all hope of recovery. And certainly it was a sore temptation to David, who had in himself the testimony of a good conscience, to think that he was regarded by men as one who was pursued by the vengeance of God, nay, that they even cast him headlong into hell. But it pleased God thus to try his servant, that, trusting to the testimony of his own conscience, he should pay no regard to what men might say, or be troubled by the reproaches they might cast upon him. It was also his design to teach us, by his example, that we must seek the reward of our righteousness elsewhere than in this world, since we see with what unequal balances the world often sets itself to estimate the difference between virtue and vice.

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