Psalm 41: Blessed Are the Weak

Unlike its neighbors, Psalm 40 (“I waited patiently”) and 42 (“As the deer”), Psalm 41 has no memorable catchphrases or popular songs based on it. But that doesn’t mean it should be ignored!

Psalm 41 is a prayer for healing. It seems even the Psalmist believes the illness is due to sin. The dire circumstances cause the Psalmist to pray fervently, trusting God to forgive and heal. Unfortunately, others use this as an opportunity to kick him while he’s down. You can almost feel the Schadenfreude as enemies wait for him to die, cheerfully gossiping and expecting even the Psalmist’s memory to vanish. Even his friends take part in the hate-mongering. Still the Psalmist trusts, announcing a miraculous restoration even on what appears to be a death bed.

My setting of the Psalm focuses on the weak: “Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.” This strikes me as very similar to Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” God has always sided with the poor, the weak, and the outsiders. Psalm 41 indicates that God will care for those who help the weak when they experience their own time of need.

1. Have mercy, O my God!
I’ve sinned, but you can heal.
My enemies encircle me
to watch me disappear.

Blessed are the weak,
and those who care for the weak.
God will care for them in their time of need.
God bless the weak.
God bless the weak.

2. I hear them whispering now:
“He earned this grave disease.
He’ll never rise from where he lies.”
And even friends agree.

3. But you, my one true friend–
you’ve heard and will restore.
You’ll raise me up in power and love
and keep me evermore.

Blessed be the One
who hears our deep lament.
Eternal, everlasting God:
Amen. Amen.

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