First Off…read Psalm 41!
Here we are. We’ve made it to the 41st book of the psalms – the last in the group that are dedicated and reflective of the pain and suffering that endures and the ultimate need for a savior and redeemer. 41 chapters that speak of what we go through (by our own hands or at the hands of others) and how God is working to bring healing to it.
Our psalm today, Psalm 41, is pretty reflective of Psalm 38 in that David is reflecting on his own illness or sin and the isolation it brings. But it’s not only Psalm 38 that has this, so does 39 and 40 (you can find my blogs on those psalms by simply looking through my homepage). With that being said there is a pretty strong case that is made that all 4 of these psalms speak of the SAME incident…most notably that David’s son, Absalom, was attacking and it is simply now that David finds rest from his attacker.
But what’s really interesting is that this isn’t a psalm FOR the weak…but instead, it’s a psalm for those who HELP the weak. For those who have “regard” for the weak. For those who love, serve, pray for, sustain, feed, clothe, love (did I say love?) the weak. It’s almost as if David is recalling all those that have helped HIM in his time of need. But what’s interesting is that that “feeling” only pertains to the first 3 verses because in verse 4 David switches and looks at the other side of those that he’s been in contact with. His enemies and those who have abandoned him in his true time of need.
There are two kinds of people in this world – those who love…and those who do not. I wish it were more complicated, but unfortunately, I do not see it that way (and I would argue that God doesn’t see it any other way either). And unfortunately each interaction we have with people puts us in one “camp” or the other. We see that in verse 9 where David reflects on someone whom he always thought was in the “love” camp (camp “A”). Someone he ate with, shared food and laughter and joy with – someone he opened up his home to as well. And that person is no longer in the “love” camp – for when he was in need…abandonment was offered and given. And not only that but they turned their back against him. That friend didn’t act in love…that friend is no longer in camp “A” but is now in camp “B”.
But what’s interesting is that David has been in both of these camps himself! He most DEFINITELY knows what it’s like to DISREGARD the weak and pray on them (ahem…need we simply say “Uriah the Hittite” or his wife “Bathsheba”?)…but David also knows what it’s like to disregard the fact that you are his enemy and instead spares you (as he did Saul countless times as well as Absalom, his son). With at least 1 case being that he opens up his house to you and not only provides for you for the rest of your life but feeds you, clothes you, and gives you all you ever need and much much more (look into the story of David and Mephibosheth in 2 Sam 9). David isn’t perfect in his ability to show love to others…and when he isn’t perfect in his showing of love to others that also means he’s not perfect in showing his love to God.
But this isn’t a story about David or even those who have loved him or abandoned him…or have done a little of both (which would include you and I). This SHOULD be a reminder to you and I that we are called to simply love. It’s a reminder that if we find ourselves in “camp B” then we need to love and love and love…and love some more so that we are KNOWN for love and not anger, hate, and even abandonment (which we are REALLY good at)…and move back to “A” camp
But again – this isn’t a story about where we find ourselves in relation to each other…it’s about where we find ourselves in relation to God and his grace. This psalm is a psalm of God’s sustaining love, mercy, healing, restoration, redemption, and MORE love. And the reason I can say that is not only because David ends with God’s love and grace – but as David reflects on all the types of people he’s been in contact with, as David stews in the love and anger he’s received, as David remembers that he even was abandoned by someone who was probably as close as a brother or sister to him…it’s only natural that David ALSO look at his relationship with God. And when we do that we quickly realize that God doesn’t jump from camp to camp depending on how He feels. God delivers in times of trouble – and “delivers” you to goodness, peace, rest, and hope. Always. God is constant and consistent in his response to all things.
I think we all know this…and while I fully proclaim that this is NOT about you or me…I am drawn to verse 2 because while this is not a psalm about me – it is a psalm about you. But it’s not a psalm about you…because it’s a psalm about me.
Look at verse 2 – who are blessed? Who are preserved? Who does God find favor in and take joy and delight in? Those who have “regard for the weak” (verse 1). This is a proclamation as to God’s goodness – but this is a battle cry for love, service, compassion, and grace for others. This is about remaining in “Camp A” and away from “Camp B”. And ultimately, since we MUST take this back to God – is this not what Christ has done for you and me – even when WE have shifted every day from one side to the other…becoming “serial campers”? Yeah. Thought so.
Don’t be the friend that abandons. Don’t find yourself running away from an opportunity to serve. Don’t cower at the hearing of pain. Be the comfort that your neighbor needs. Be the voice for the one who lost it. Be the crutch for those who need support. Love the unloved. Serve those that society turns its back on (and there are a lot of them). Take in the refugee, clothe the naked, feed the hungry. “For when you did this to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me.” (Matthew 25:40)