Psalm 41 New Living Translation (NLT)
For the choir director: A psalm of David.
1 Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.
2 The Lord protects them and keeps them alive.
He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies.
3 The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.
4 “O Lord,” I prayed, “have mercy on me. Heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
5 But my enemies say nothing but evil about me. “How soon will he die and be forgotten?” they ask.
6 They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere.
7 All who hate me whisper about me, imagining the worst.
8 “He has some fatal disease,” they say. “He will never get out of that bed!”
9 Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me.
10 Lord, have mercy on me. Make me well again, so I can pay them back!
11 I know you are pleased with me, for you have not let my enemies triumph over me.
12 You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever.
13 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen!
Psalm 41 is a PRAYER OF MERCY written by David, who is a type of Christ, but not a perfect type. David was fully human as we will see in this Psalm.
Before we get into the Psalm itself, I want to give you some historical context: We cannot be certain, but most scholars believe David wrote this prayer for mercy during the rebellion of Absalom. David is besieged with problems.
 He is physically ill. No one knows what was ailing David but it seems that he is never fully healthy after his affair with Bathsheba. Some of his sickness may be related to anxiety and guilt but whatever it was–it was life threatening. Many folks, including his enemies, thought David would die from this illness. [David’s enemies were praying for the sickness to kill him]
 David was also heart sick. He had experience betrayal from a trusted friend. Betrayal is a heavy burden to bear. Jesus quoted part of verse 9 in reference to Judas but Jesus only quoted, “The one who eats my food has turned against me.” He did not quote the “the One I trusted completely.” Jesus never trusted Judas. It is the trust factor that gives betrayal it’s sting. This is why adultery has such a deep sting.
 The third major problem that David is facing is a political coup. The nation has rebelled and the rebellion is lead by Absalom, David’s son. David’s position as king is not all that is being threatened, his life is being threatened and the threat is real, not imagined. David’s son and one of his best friends are leading the rebellion.
What do we do when life begins to collapse and we are caught under the debris? I think it would be wise to follow David’s example.
I. HUMBLES OURSELVES AND ACKNOWLEDGE OUR POVERTY.
David said, Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.
The word poor in Hebrew is dal and it means literally, the lean, the weak, the helpless. It comes from a word that means to dangle, to be hanging on a thread so to speak. He describes our wretched condition. Before men, David was not poor, he had great wealth but before God, it was poor indeed. The first beatitude comes to mind, ‘BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT.”
Every prayer needs to begin with a spirit of wretchedness and humility. In Luke 18, the Pharisee prayed… ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ This is most certainly not the way to begin a prayer. The tax collector prayed… ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’
If you are not willing to begin your prayer with this spirit of humility and wretchedness, you need not bother to pray.
II. WE PRAY FOR MERCY, Always!
Look at verse 4 and 10…simple prayer, HAVE MERCY ON ME!
David was not perfect but he did understand the LORD’s love for the poor and you see this in verses 1-5. Perhaps, more than any of Israel’s kings–David showed mercy to the poor for he was once poor himself.
Personally I would not say that David was a paragon or champion of MERCY but he did show mercy to the poor, to Saul and to one of Saul’s grandsons. He showed no mercy to the Moabites and they were his relatives. He did understand the principle: “BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL FOR THEY SHALL RECEIVE MERCY.”
James 2:17, “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”
If we have any hope of receiving mercy, we better grant it to others. God will reward the merciful….
- Save them…verse 1
- Protect and keep them…verse 2
- Deliver them from their enemies…verse 2
- Restore them…verse
III. WE MUST BE HONEST ABOUT OUR SIN
Go back to verse 4…“O Lord,” I prayed, “have mercy on me. Heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
Note first, David said: “I have sinned.” Folks we cannot be saved until we can utter these words from our heart, neither can we expect God to take our prayers seriously when we refuse to confess our sins. I know that the proper way to pray is to begin with adoration for the FATHER but sometimes I have to begin with my wretched condition.
Perhaps, as important is to note what he says next: I have sinned against You. Because God is holy, all sin is personally against HIM. Yes, the consequences of sin are bad but the worse thing about sin is that it is against God.
I was reading Psalm 22 this am in my QT and I had to stop at verse 8 and pray…thinking about what my sin cost Jesus disturbed me and I had to pray for forgiveness.
IV. WE COMMIT TO SHOWING MERCY
I want you to look at verse 10…Lord, have mercy on me. Make me well again, so I can pay them back!
Remember what I said in the introduction…DAVID WAS A TYPE OF CHRIST, BUT NOT A PERFECT TYPE. I get amused at those who try to make David perfect. Dr. Wiersbe said, “David was not vindictive, he was simply looking out for the future of the dynasty.” I love Dr. Wiersbe and he has helped me in a lot of ways but he is wrong here. All you have to do is read the last chapter of David’s life and you will see his desire to get even with his enemies. Folks, we preach JESUS not David. David hated his enemies but Jesus taught us to love our enemies. I would never dream of being one of David’s enemies.
We must be pro-active and intentional about showing mercy to others.