A Psalm of David.

This is another psalm by Israel’s great shepherd-king, David. This psalm was again written when David was suffering from the illness brought about by his great sin. As we saw in previous psalms, David’s enemies were using the occasion of his illness to rise up against him and to conspire to destroy him and his government. Thus, in this psalm David again prays to the LORD about these who unfairly and distressingly were risen against him when he was ill and unable to respond to them.

1.  Blessed is he who considers the poor;

David does not mean that he is poor, as if he had lost all his earthly possessions, but rather that he is weak and helpless. Before speaking of those who had cruelly risen against him, he first speaks blessing upon those who in his illness had looked with pity and compassion upon his plight. In times when some betray us, it would be good if we too kept foremost in our minds those who have not done so, but who have stood by us in our troubles.

The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

David knows that, as these have considered the helpless, so the LORD will repay them in the time when trouble arises in their own lives. They will receive deliverance, just like they have sought it for David.

2.  The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive,

Bullinger in The Companion Bible suggests that this does not mean that he will be kept alive in this life, but rather that the LORD will revive him. That is, He will bring him back to life in the great day of resurrection. This will be the reward to those who considered and helped David in his time of trouble, knowing that they were helping God’s chosen king. As God’s representative on earth, he knew that those who helped him were truly standing on the side of the LORD.

And he will be blessed on the earth;

Those who were thus resurrected would not be raised to enjoy some kind of blessings in heaven, but rather would be raised to be blessed upon the earth. Of course, their blessing will not be in an earth that is covered by the kind of dark world we live in today, but rather will be in the great earth of the future when God brings in His glorious kingdom. Then, to live on the earth will be a blessed thing indeed.

You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.

Those who sided with David would not be delivered to the will of their enemies. The LORD would preserve them in their troubles, just as He preserved David.

The word “will” here is the Hebrew word nephesh, which means “soul.” Remember, your soul has to do with your emotions and desires. Those who considered David in his distress would not be given over to the desires of their enemies.

3.  The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness;

Again, through the inspiration of God David promises that all those who side with him in his time of trouble can be assured that the LORD will strengthen them as well when a time of sickness may come upon them in the future. Again, David was God’s representative on earth, so to side with him would make one deserving of such blessings. There is no man on earth today that we can help and thus secure such a guarantee of blessings to ourselves. Yet in that day, David was God’s chosen one, and all who sided with him would obtain God’s favor.

You will sustain him on his sickbed.

David repeats this truth for emphasis. Those who helped him would be sustained on their own sickbed. This would apply to men like those we read of in II Samuel 16 and 17, who helped David greatly in his time of distress and flight from Absalom.

4.  I said, “LORD, be merciful to me;

Having first prayed for those who sided with him in his time of helplessness, now he turns to consider himself and to request the aid of Yahweh in his present time of sorrow and sickness. What he needs is the LORD’s mercy, for his illness was because of his sin. Thus, he makes his appeal to God’s grace.

Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”

David acknowledges that it was his sin that brought about this illness. Yet he still requests that the LORD heal him. He knows that the LORD is a God of every grace, and so he does not cringe from making his request for help to Him.

5.  My enemies speak evil of me:

Besides the sorrow of his illness, David knows what his enemies are saying of him. They are speaking calamity of him. They are hoping that this illness will be the end of David.

“When will he die, and his name perish?”

These enemies are hoping for his death, and that his name will perish. Your name is not just the word people call you, but has to do with your true reputation, and your character. It was David’s righteous and Godly character that these enemies wanted to see perish. Perhaps they did not like a king who could not be bribed or corrupted!

6.  And if he comes to see me, he speaks lies;

David changes from speaking of all his enemies in general to one specific enemy who in particular was plotting against him. It seems this enemy had even come to see David in his illness, more than once from these words. Yet David knew that his words of well-wishes were lies. This enemy did not want to see David recover. Perhaps his real motivation to come was just to gloat over David in his time of trouble. It seems likely that this enemy could have been Ahithophel, David’s former friend and counselor who conspired against him during Absalom’s rebellion.

His heart gathers iniquity to itself;

It seems this enemy was just gathering in every detail about David’s illness, every weakness and malignity that he was suffering from, in his wicked desire to see this sickness bring David to destruction and death. While he spoke nice sounding words, in his heart he enjoyed every minute of David’s suffering.

When he goes out, he tells it.

After leaving David, this enemy would go to his eager co-conspirators and share with them every observation he had made about David’s dire illness and his peril of death.

7.  All who hate me whisper together against me;

Those who hate David were not content to just sit back and hope his illness would end his life. They were using this opportunity to plot together against David, so that if he did recover they would be ready to put their schemes into action to bring him to his destruction regardless.

Against me they devise my hurt.

They were plotting and scheming David’s hurt, whether after his illness, or even while he was sick and defenseless.

8.  “An evil disease,” they say, “clings to him.

In Hebrew “an evil disease” is “a thing of Belial.” This word strictly meant “worthlessness,” but it seems it was also used for things destructive and malignant. David’s enemies were discussing together the foul disease with which he had been afflicted.

And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.”

David’s enemies make it their guess that he will never rise up well and whole from the couch of sickness upon which he lies. Of course, this was exactly what they hoped would happen, for they did not want to see David recover.

9.  Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,

This is probably the particular enemy of David’s, the false friend who visited him in his illness, of whom David speaks here. His enemies were not just those distant from him, or who were not acquainted with David personally. This enemy was a close friend of David’s, and one in whom he had trusted. How much more the betrayal of just one former friend like this hurts than does the hatred of a multitude of strangers!

Who ate my bread,

This man had been part of David’s government, and thus had been supported by David’s own bread. He had lived off David’s government, yet now he sought to overthrow it.

Has lifted up his heel against me.

This one who had been David’s trusted confidant now lifted up his heel against David as if to crush him in this, his time of sickness and helplessness. How unfair and painful this must have been to David!

This verse is quoted in John 13:18, and is applied to Judas’ betrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, Judas’ betrayal of the Lord was very similar to Ahithophel’s betrayal of David. Of course, the one difference was that David was a man who had done some things wrong in his life, but our Lord was sinless, and so was completely innocent and undeserving of any wrong done to him. Yet, though David was a man who sinned, still this betrayal was undeserved and unjust, considering what he had been to Ahithophel, and what he had done for him.

10.  But You, O LORD, be merciful to me, and raise me up,

Having recounted the opposition he faced, David now turns to Yahweh, and requests His mercy. He wants the LORD to raise him up from this bed of sickness he was on. He knows that this is the only way that he will recover from the dire illness that is upon him.

That I may repay them.

David was God’s representative on earth, and did not live in a dispensation of grace. Thus, he could rightfully ask for the LORD to give him the opportunity to repay these bitter enemies who had taken it upon themselves to treat him so cruelly.

11.  By this I know that You are well pleased with me,

Even though the LORD had brought this illness upon David, he could still see the LORD’s pleasure with him. He knew that He had not forsaken him completely, even now.

Because my enemy does not triumph over me.

David could see no natural way that these enemies would not have triumphed over him long since. The only thing that kept him from utter calamity was that the LORD still looked with favor upon him.

12.  As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,

David knew of his own integrity. He had done nothing to these wicked men, his enemies, which would justify their wicked acts against him. How good it is to know that the hatred of others is undeserved! Far better, at least, than when we know that others have a perfect right to hate us. Let us ever seek to be innocent of the despite of others. It may not stop us from having enemies, but at least we can say before the LORD that we are free from blame in our attitudes and actions towards them.

And set me before Your face forever.

David knew that not only would the LORD uphold him in his present life and this time of illness, but that the LORD also had plans for David’s future in the kingdom of God. At that time, he would be set before the LORD’s face in perpetuity. Throughout the time of God’s great outflow, David would be serving before the LORD, this time innocent of all wrongdoing.

13.  Blessed be the LORD God of Israel

David ends this psalm, as well as this first great book of Psalms, with blessing upon Yahweh Elohim of Israel. This is not the word for “happinesses,” like in Psalm 1:1, but instead is the word for extolled and lifted up. Indeed, our great God is blessed in all things, for He is great and good and wonderful. No words of praise are too high for Him. He is blessed always. He is blessed forever!
From everlasting to everlasting!

These two occurrences of “everlasting” are the Hebrew word olam, meaning the outflowing work of God. The idea is from flow to flow, from one work of God to the next to the next and on in perpetuity, God is blessed. No work of His is corrupt. No work of His is unworthy of Him. Everything he does is worthy of praise. Blessed be He now and always!

Amen and Amen.

This twofold repetition of “amen” is a solemn and emphasized assurance of the truth of what has been said in this first book of the Psalms. Truth and Truth. All the things we have read are true. We need to read them. We need to understand them. We need to believe them. Praise God for all the wonderful things we can learn about Him and about His plans from this first great book of Psalms!

To the chief Musician.

Again, this last psalm of the first book of Psalms is dedicated to this man, the chief Musician. All men can learn from what David went through, and from his words regarding the faithful, the treacherous, and the LORD, Who sees and judges all men in their attitudes and actions. Let us learn from these words as well!

So closes the first book of Psalms, the Genesis book. Praise God for all that is written herein, and that we have learned. May we hear the Word of God, and do it.