There are no perfect friends in the world and to desire such will leave you bitterly disappointed. We too will inevitably fail to be a flawless friend to others and will at some point be the source of sorrow and distress for others. Realizing our inability to be the perfect companion, we must nevertheless decide whether or not we will strive to be men and women of integrity. Our devotional today offers us two challenges: 1) The first considers the saint’s relationship with others (Psalm 41:1-4); 2) The second, the saint’s response to those who betray and wound him (Psalm 41:5-9).
Psalm 41:1-9 – “Blessed [Happy, as a result of being the object of another’s grace] is he that considereth [understands; attends to] the poor [weak; needy]: the LORD will deliver [save; rescue] him in time [day; moment] of trouble [sin; wickedness; evil].
2 The LORD will preserve [keep; watch; guard] him, and keep him alive [revive; sustain]; and he shall be blessed [happy; prosperous] upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver [give; abandon] him unto the will [appetite; desire] of his enemies [adversary; foe].
3 The LORD will strengthen [support; establish; uphold] him upon the bed [couch; canopy] of languishing [sickness; sorrow]: thou wilt make [turn; overthrow] all his bed in his sickness [disease; malady].
4 I said, LORD, be merciful [gracious; show favor] unto me: heal [cure; purify] my soul [life; person]; for I have sinned [committed sin; guilty] against thee.”
King David confesses he was at a low point in his life, both physically and emotionally, as he pens this psalm. He opens the psalm by embracing the promise the LORD attends to His people in their hour of need, both hearing and heeding their cries (41:1). Even in the midst of sorrows and hardships, David reminds the saints God perpetually watches over His people and delivers them out of trouble in His time (41:2).
Tossing and turning upon his bed; bearing the affliction of sickness and spending sleepless nights waiting on the LORD; David searches His soul, confessing his sin and believing God will show Him favor and restore Him (41:3-4).
The second consideration is David’s response to those who betrayed his trust and wounded him (41:5-9).
Psalm 41:5-6 – “Mine enemies [adversary; foe] speak [tell; charge] evil [sin; wickedness] of me, When shall he die [be slain or killed], and his name [fame; honor] perish [destroyed]? 6 And if he [foe; adversary] come to see [look; behold] me, he speaketh [tell; declare] vanity [deceit; lying; lies; malice]: his heart gathereth [collect; heap; take up] iniquity [sin; wickedness] to itself; when he goeth [go forth] abroad [in the streets], he telleth [speak; say; talk] it.”
Every saint of God who strives to live with integrity and serve the LORD faithfully will certainly be confronted with the bitter distress of betrayal by loved ones and trusted peers. Over my course of 37 years of ministry, I have felt the kiss of betrayal by some I trusted and, in my cry to the LORD, been reminded He too felt the caress of Judas’ kiss upon His own cheek. I am amazed how some Christians can call me brother or pastor, while bearing a bitter spirit and sowing discord among the brethren (41:6). Even more amazing, most have seared consciences and never attempt to rebuild the relationships their proud hearts destroy.
Psalm 41:7-8 – “All that hate [as an enemy or foe] me whisper [mumble] together [united; i.e. in chorus] against me: against me do they devise [think; imagine; fabricate] my hurt [ecil; sore; affliction]. 8 An evil [wicked; ungodly] disease [spoken word], say they, cleaveth fast [poured out; overflows] unto him: and now that he lieth [lays down; rest] he shall rise up no more.”
It is a terrible way when those you love enjoin themselves with others and foster a bitter spirit that eats at the souls of the saints and the body of Christ (41:7). Sadly, there are some embittered, evil souls who toil away in their sinful, evil ways and wait the day they can take satisfaction in the fall of a pastor or the failure of a saint (41:8).
The king gives us insight into the personal nature of the betrayal that had befallen him in Psalm 41:9.
Psalm 41:9 – “Yea, mine own familiar [“shalom”; happy, close] friend, in whom I trusted [secure; confident; relied on; put my trust], which did eat [devour; consume] of my bread [food; meal], hath lifted up [magnified; became strong] his heel [foot] against me.”
The adversary who wanted and waited for David’s demise was either a family member or one of his closest confidants. His foe had been a “familiar friend”, a trusted loved one and confidant; someone the king had shared countless joys and times of fellowship. This was the man whose desire was to grind the king under his heel and humiliate him.
My friend, the betrayal David experienced and the sorrow that followed is the affliction of saints who have integrity in their walk and love and minister to others with abandon. Be careful you do not become embittered when you suffer injustices and betrayals; after all, the LORD suffered the same and He has never abandoned you.
Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith