Monday, February 17, 2014

Psalm 41

Psalm 41
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 Blessed is he who has regard for the weak;
the LORD delivers him in times of trouble.
2 The LORD will protect him and preserve his life;
he will bless him in the land
and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.
3 The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed
and restore him from his bed of illness.
4 I said, “O LORD, have mercy on me;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
5 My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die and his name perish?”
6 Whenever one comes to see me,
he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
then he goes out and spreads it abroad.
7 All my enemies whisper together against me;
they imagine the worst for me, saying,
8 “A vile disease has beset him;
he will never get up from the place where he lies.”
9 Even my close friend, whom I trusted,
he who shared my bread,
has lifted up his heel against me.
10 But you, O LORD, have mercy on me;
raise me up, that I may repay them.
11 I know that you are pleased with me,
for my enemy does not triumph over me.
12 In my integrity you uphold me
and set me in your presence forever.
13 Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.

Psalm 41 is a treatise on what it is like to be hated. Hatred can raise its ugly head in any relationship. Spouses can get angry with each other, siblings can (and do) get angry and our best friends can get angry with us. When this anger is allowed to fester, it can raise up a root of bitterness “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15) This bitter root can easily turn to hatred. When that happens, we are essentially saying “I don’t want you in my life anymore!” In the body of Christ, this can even happen between fellow believers.

In Psalm 41, David is writing about a close friend whose love has turned to hatred. David is familiar with the disappointment of having former companions turn against him (see verses 2 and 5), He knows what it is like to have a friend tell lies about you (See verse 6), of having people listen to the lies and assume the worst about you (see verse 8) and of having even his best friend turn against him (see verse 9).

David knew that even though people were failing him; God had not, was not and would not fail him. God was on his side (see verse 10), he knew that God was pleased with him (see verse 11) and he knew that God would always be there with him and for him (see verses 12-13).

Even God knows the feeling of being hated by His people. The Bible is full of stories of people that wanted God to leave them alone, to get out of their lives. His son, Jesus also knew the sting of being hated by those He loved. He was betrayed by a close associate, who not only sold Him out for thirty pieces of silver; but he also led them to Jesus and identified Him with a kiss. What is amazing is how Jesus handled this ultimate betrayal. When Judas (a name synonymous with betrayal) came up to Him, Jesus looked him in the eye and said “50 Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.” (Matthew 26:50). It was if Jesus was giving Judas permission to betray Him. Jesus knew that what God was going to do was significantly more important than having revenge on Judas (see Matthew 26:54).

Jesus tells us “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44). Jesus knew that it is more important for us to have the “mind of Christ”; to see people as He sees them; than it is for us to plot ways to get even with those who hurt us. It is virtually impossible for us to hate someone that we are praying for. We may pray initially out of grudging obedience, but if we persevere in our prayers, the Holy Spirit will change our attitude from one of reluctance to one of love. Our desire is to see them restored to a full relationship with Jesus because hatred is a sin. Jesus equates it to murder in Matthew 5:21-22; 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
Note: Raca is a term of reproach used by the Jews of our Savior's time, meaning "worthless”.
God will do something amazing, not only in the life of the one who hates us but also in our life as He changes our attitude and softens our heart. The rewards will be peace with God, peace with others and peace of mind.

In Christ,

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