Psalm 41sn Psalm 41. The psalmist is confident (vv. 11-12) that the Lord has heard his request to be healed (vv. 4-10), and he anticipates the joy he will experience when the Lord intervenes (vv. 1-3). One must assume that the psalmist is responding to a divine oracle of assurance (see P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 [WBC], 319-20). The final verse is a fitting conclusion to this psalm, but it is also serves as a fitting conclusion to the first “book” (or major editorial division) of the Psalter. Similar statements appear at or near the end of each of the second, third, and fourth “books” of the Psalter (see Pss 72:19, 89:52, and 106:48 respectively).
For the music director; a psalm of David.
1 How blessedtn The Hebrew noun is an abstract plural. The word often refers metonymically to the happiness that God-given security and prosperity produce (see Pss 1:1, 3; 2:12; 34:9; 65:4; 84:12; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 127:5; 128:1; 144:15). is the one who treats the poor properly!sn One who treats the poor properly. The psalmist is characterizing himself as such an individual and supplying a reason why God has responded favorably to his prayer. The Lord’s attitude toward the merciful mirrors their treatment of the poor.
When trouble comes,tn Heb “in the day of trouble” (see Ps 27:5). the Lord delivers him.tn That is, the one who has been kind to the poor. The prefixed verbal form could be taken as jussive of prayer (“may the Lord deliver,” see v. 2), but the preceding parallel line is a declaration of fact, not a prayer per se. The imperfect can be taken here as future (“will deliver,” cf. NEB, NASB) or as generalizing (“delivers,” cf. NIV, NRSV). The parallel line, which has a generalizing tone, favors the latter. At the same time, though the psalmist uses a generalizing style here, he clearly has himself primarily in view.
2 May the Lord protect him and save his life!tn The prefixed verbal forms are taken as jussives in the translation because the jussive is clearly used in the final line of the verse, suggesting that this is a prayer. The psalmist stops to pronounce a prayer of blessing on the godly individual envisioned in v. 1. Of course, he actually has himself primarily in view. He mixes confidence (vv. 1, 3) with petition (v. 2) because he stands in the interval between the word of assurance and the actual intervention by God.
May he be blessedtc The translation follows the consonantal Hebrew text (Kethib), which has a Pual (passive) prefixed form, regarded here as a jussive. The Pual of the verb אָשַׁר (’ashar) also appears in Prov 3:18. The marginal reading (Qere) assumes a vav (ו) consecutive and Pual perfect. Some, with the support of the LXX, change the verb to a Piel (active) form with an objective pronominal suffix, “and may he bless him,” or “and he will bless him” (cf. NIV). in the land!
Do not turn him overtn The negative particle אַל (’al) before the prefixed verbal form indicates the verb is a jussive and the statement a prayer. Those who want to take v. 2 as a statement of confidence suggest emending the negative particle to לֹא (lo’), which is used with the imperfect. See the earlier note on the verbal forms in line one of this verse. According to GKC 322 §109.e, this is a case where the jussive is used rhetorically to “express that something cannot or should not happen.” In this case one might translate, “you will not turn him over to his enemies,” and take the preceding verbal forms as indicative in mood. to his enemies!tn Heb “do not give him over to the desire of his enemies” (see Ps 27:12).
3 The Lord supportstn The prefixed verbal form could be taken as jussive, continuing the prayer of v. 2, but the parallel line in v. 3b employs the perfect, suggesting that the psalmist is again speaking in the indicative mood (see v. 1b). The imperfect can be understood as future or as generalizing (see v. 1). him on his sickbed;
you completely heal him from his illness.tn Heb “all his bed you turn in his illness.” The perfect is used here in a generalizing sense (see v. 1) or in a rhetorical manner to emphasize that the healing is as good as done.
4 As for me, I said:sn In vv. 4-10 the psalmist recites the prayer of petition and lament he offered to the Lord.
“O Lord, have mercy on me!
Heal me, for I have sinned against you!
5 My enemies ask this cruel question about me,tn Heb “my enemies speak evil concerning me.”
‘When will he finally die and be forgotten?’tn Heb “and his name perish.”
6 When someone comes to visit,tn Heb “to see.” he pretends to be friendly;tn Heb “he speaks deceitfully.”
he thinks of ways to defame me,tn Heb “his heart gathers sin to itself.”
and when he leaves he slanders me.tn Heb “he goes outside and speaks.”
7 All who hate me whisper insults about me to one another;tn Heb “together against me they whisper, all those who hate me.” The Hitpael of לָחַשׁ (lakhash) refers here to whispering to one another (see 2 Sam 12:19).
they plan ways to harm me.
8 They say,tn The words “they say” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation to make it clear that v. 8 contains a quotation of what the psalmist’s enemies say about him (see v. 7a).
‘An awful diseasetn Heb “thing of worthlessness.” In Ps 101:3 the phrase refers to evil deeds in general, but here it appears to refer more specifically to the illness that plagues the psalmist. overwhelms him,tn Heb “is poured out on him.” The passive participle of יָצַק (yatsaq) is used.
and now that he is bed-ridden he will never recover.’tn Heb “and he who lies down will not again arise.”
9 Even my close friendtn Heb “man of my peace.” The phrase here refers to one’s trusted friend (see Jer 38:22; Obad 7). whom I trusted,
he who shared meals with me, has turned against me.tn Heb “has made a heel great against me.” The precise meaning of this phrase, which appears only here, is uncertain.sn The language of this verse is applied to Judas Iscariot in John 13:18.
10 As for you, O Lord, have mercy on me and raise me up,
so I can pay them back!”tn The cohortative with prefixed vav (ו) here indicates purpose or result (“Then I will repay them”) after the preceding imperatives.
11 By thissn By this. Having recalled his former lament and petition, the psalmist returns to the confident mood of vv. 1-3. The basis for his confidence may be a divine oracle of deliverance, assuring him that God would intervene and vindicate him. The demonstrative pronoun “this” may refer to such an oracle, which is assumed here, though its contents are not included. See P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 (WBC), 319, 321. I know that you are pleased with me,
for my enemy doestn Or “will.” One may translate the imperfect verbal form as descriptive (present, cf. NIV) or as anticipatory (future, cf. NEB). not triumphtn Heb “shout.” over me.
12 As for me, you upholdtn Or “have upheld.” The perfect verbal form can be taken as generalizing/descriptive (present) or as a present perfect. me because of my integrity;sn Because of my integrity. See Pss 7:8; 25:21; 26:1, 11.
you allowtn The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive has the same aspectual function as the preceding perfect. It is either generalizing/descriptive (present) or has a present perfect nuance (“you have allowed”). me permanent access to your presence.tn Heb “and you cause me to stand before you permanently.”
13 The Lord God of Israel deserves praisetn Heb “[be] blessed.” See Pss 18:46; 28:6; 31:21.
in the future and forevermore!tn Heb “from everlasting to everlasting.” See 1 Chr 16:36; Neh 9:5; Pss 90:2; 106:48.
We agree! We agree!tn Heb “surely and surely” (אָמֵן וְאָמֵן [’amen vÿ’amen], i.e., “amen and amen”). This is probably a congregational response to the immediately preceding statement about the propriety of praising God.