There are always two sets of people around us that we can see. There are those that are worse off than we are, and there are those that are better off than we are. This simple truth is potentially the antidote for a lot of ills. Three that come to mind are pride, a feeling of inferiority, and a feeling of superiority.
But in Psalm 41:1-3, the Psalmist addresses one category of persons without any comment about their status. He addresses the poor. Many Commentators have gone to great length to elaborate on the categories of poverty to which the Psalmist may have been alluding. Was he addressing the one who is poor in terms of this world’s goods? Or was he referring to the one who is poor in spirit? I have even read of some who go out on a limb and stretch the applicable reference to Jesus Christ Himself on the grounds that He definitely associated wit the poor and prophetically adopted the title. But let us stay on safer ground and exegete rather than eisegete.
There are not many, if any, conditions that are attended by so many specific and direct blessings as attend to the one who considers the poor. I suggest that the “poor” is best interpreted as the one that is not, or does not appear to be as endowed as you are. This allows for a person of less financial means and equal financial needs to be the “poor” that I must consider. And what about the one who is not as intellectually exercised as I am, and may not be as academically qualified as I am? That person is the “poor” to whom I must direct my consideration. And what about the one who is emotionally unstable, and frequently given to irrational thoughts and actions. He or she is my “poor”. And what about the spiritually immature, to the likes of which the Apostle Paul frequently referred when discussing the issue of causing one’s brother to stumble… they too are my “poor” (Romans 14:13-23). To put it another way, if for any reason, I feel even the slightest hint of “superiority” or betterment when I think of you, then you become my “poor”. And this in itself is a philosophical masterpiece for protecting us from the sin of pride or its converse, that of condescension. We have the blessings of God when we lovingly, thoughtfully, humbly and practically consider and care for those who we consider to be not as “blessed” as we are, and then do something tangible about it.
- And now for the blessings.
- The Lord delivers you in times of trouble (Psalm 41:1).
- The Lord protects and preserves you (Psalm 41:2).
- The Lord counts you and causes you to be counted among the blessed in the land (Psalm 41:2).
- The Lord does not give you over to the desire of your foes (Psalm 41:1).
- The Lord sustains you on your sickbed (Psalm 41:3).
- The Lord restores you from your bed of illness (Psalm 41:3).
It goes without saying that these descriptions are general and conceptual. The Lord will not always restore us from the bed of our illness. One day we will die, except for those who are privileged to be alive at the time of the rapture. There will be times when our enemies appear to have gained the victory over us. Think of the Israelites during many of their 400 years of slavery in Egypt, and how many of them grew tired of waiting for deliverance, and died. But ultimately, we know that when you pull back the curtain and expand the canvas to include our eternity with Jesus, then all of a sudden, all these blessings become very literal.
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