Psalm 41 — Being merciful

We now come to the end of the first book of psalms (there are five all together).

And David starts it by writing,

Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble.  (1)

Jesus put it another way.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.  (Matthew 5:7)

What is mercy?  There are two ideas to the word mercy.  One is showing compassion to those who are weak, sick, or poor.

The other idea is withholding punishment from those who deserve it.

We see both of these ideas in this psalm.  David says of those who show mercy to those who are weak, God will show mercy to them when they themselves are weak. (1-3)

But David also cries out,

O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you. (4)

So often, like David, we cry out for mercy.  But how often are we ourselves merciful to others?

How often are we like those David describes in verses 5-9.  Who speak of those who have hurt us with malice.  Who when we see them suffering, say, “Good.  He deserves it.  I hope he dies.”  Who whisper gossip about them and exaggerate the wrongs they’ve done against us.

Or who, when we see our friends our suffering, instead of comforting them, accuse them as Job’s friends did.  Who say they must have sinned or that they lack true faith in God, otherwise they would be healed.

Even David struggled with the idea of mercy at times.  So many times we see him in his psalms rail against his enemies.  Ironically, he even says,

But you, O LORD, have mercy on me; raise me up, that I may repay them.  (10)

We don’t have to justify these kinds of statements of David.  One thing about the psalms is that they are honest expressions of human emotions.  The key is that though David did indeed express his feelings of anger and frustration, he did not act on them except in justice.

We too may get frustrated or angry with others.  But as God showed us mercy, so we are to show mercy to others.

And when we see people who are weak and in need of our help, we are to help them as God helped us when we were powerless to save ourselves.  (Romans 5:6-8)

How merciful are you?

About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください:
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