God's Sufficiency for Godly Sufferers

Bible Book: Psalms  41 : 1-13
Subject: Suffering; Hardships; Sufficiency, God's
Series: Psalms - Kirksey

God’s sufficiency for godly sufferers is the theme of this psalm of David. Someone titles Psalm 41 “The Blessing and Suffering of the Godly,” another titles it “Strength in Weakness.”

Rev. Edwin Paxton Hood (1820-1885), shares the following in Dark Sayings on a Harp, (1865), “When I visited one day, as he was dying, my beloved friend Benjamin Parsons, I said, ‘How are you to-day, sir;’ he said, ‘My head is resting very sweetly on three pillows; infinite power, infinite love, and infinite wisdom.’ Preaching in the Canterbury Hall, in Brighton, I mentioned this, some time since; and many months after, I was requested to call upon a poor, but holy young woman, apparently dying. She said, ‘I felt I must see you before I died.’ I heard you preach in Canterbury Hall, and tell the story of Benjamin Parsons and his three pillows; and when I went through a surgical operation, and it was very cruel, I was leaning my head on pillows, and as they were taking them away, I said, ‘Mayn’t I keep these?’ The surgeon said, ‘No my dear, we must take them away.’ ‘But,’ said I, ‘you cannot take away Benjamin Parsons’ three pillows; I can lay my head on infinite power, infinite love, and infinite wisdom.’”[1]

Allow me to share the three movements of our passage.

I. David’s previous conduct was helpful (Psalm 41:1-4).

Maybe you have heard, “God helps those who help themselves,” but here we find “God helps those who help the helpless.” We find support for the latter statement in this Scriptural medley from Proverbs 19:17, 22:9, and 28:27, where we read, “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, / And He will pay back what he has given. . . . He who has a generous eye will be blessed, / For he gives of his bread to the poor. . . . He who gives to the poor will not lack, / But he who hides his eyes will have many curses.”

In Matthew 5:7 Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, / For they shall obtain mercy.”

We read in Psalm 41:1-4, “Blessed is he who considers the poor; / The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, / And he will be blessed on the earth; / You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness; / You will sustain him on his sickbed. I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me; / Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.’”

Dr. William D. Barrick points out the relationship between Psalm 38 and 41 in a lesson on Psalm 41 titled “Amen and Amen.” Dr. Barrick explains, “Sin was the cause of the illness (Psalm 38:4-5, 18; Psalm 41:4)” and “false friends took advantage of his illness (Psalm 38:11-2, 16,19; 41:4-9).”[2]

David cries out in Psalm 38:1-22, “O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, / Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure! For Your arrows pierce me deeply, / And Your hand presses me down. There is no soundness in my flesh / Because of Your anger, / Nor any health in my bones / Because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; / Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds are foul and festering / Because of my foolishness. I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; / I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are full of inflammation, / And there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and severely broken; / I groan because of the turmoil of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before You; / And my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart pants, my strength fails me; / As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me. My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, / And my relatives stand afar off. Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; / Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, / And plan deception all the day long. But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; / And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth. Thus I am like a man who does not hear, / And in whose mouth is no response. For in You, O Lord, I hope; / You will hear, O Lord my God. For I said, ‘Hear me, lest they rejoice over me, / Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.’ For I am ready to fall, / And my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare my iniquity; / I will be in anguish over my sin. But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong; / And those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied. Those also who render evil for good, / They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good. Do not forsake me, O Lord; / O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, / O Lord, my salvation!”

We read in Hebrews 12:5-6, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; / For whom the Lord loves He chastens, / And scourges every son whom He receives.” When we encounter chastening like David, it is important for us to confess our sin quickly. This “man after [God’s] own heart” (Acts 13:22) humbly confesses his sin. Psalm 32 and 51 record David’s confession at another time after Nathan the prophet confronted him with his adultery and murder (2 Samuel 12:13) and later David confessed, “I have sinned greatly” (1 Chronicles 21:8), after numbering the people. David did not just say, “I have sinned” as others in the Bible, who obviously did not repent. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, / But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy,” as we read in Proverbs 28:13. That is genuine repentance.

II. David’s present conflict was hurtful (Psalm 41:5-9).

In Psalm 41:2 David refers to “the will of his enemies,” then in verse 5 he recounts the words of his enemies. From Psalm 41:5-9 we read, “My enemies speak evil of me: ‘When will he die, and his name perish?’ And if he comes to see me, he speaks lies; / His heart gathers iniquity to itself; / When he goes out, he tells it. All who hate me whisper together against me; / Against me they devise my hurt. ‘An evil disease,’ they say, ‘clings to him. And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.’ Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, / Who ate my bread, / Has lifted up his heel against me.”

The situation here likely is the time Ahithophel betrayed David and sided with Absalom, David’s son, who tried to seize the throne from his father (2 Samuel 15-17). Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23) is a type of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 13:18, “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’”

Sophocles stated, “What greater wound is there than a false friend?” David felt the heart wrenching pain of betrayal on several occasions. He chronicles one of those times in Psalm 52. We find the situation of Psalm 52 in 1 Samuel 21-22. David pours out his heart to God on another occasion as recorded in Psalm 55:1-23, “Give ear to my prayer, O God, / And do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Attend to me, and hear me; / I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily, / Because of the voice of the enemy, / Because of the oppression of the wicked; / For they bring down trouble upon me, / And in wrath they hate me. My heart is severely pained within me, / And the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, / And horror has overwhelmed me. So I said, ‘Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, / And remain in the wilderness. Selah I would hasten my escape / From the windy storm and tempest.’ Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues, / For I have seen violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go around it on its walls; / Iniquity and trouble are also in the midst of it. Destruction is in its midst; / Oppression and deceit do not depart from its streets. For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; / Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; / Then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, / My companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, / And walked to the house of God in the throng. Let death seize them; / Let them go down alive into hell, / For wickedness is in their dwellings and among them. As for me, I will call upon God, / And the Lord shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon / I will pray, and cry aloud, / And He shall hear my voice. He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me, / For there were many against me. God will hear, and afflict them, / Even He who abides from of old. Selah Because they do not change, / Therefore they do not fear God. He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him; / He has broken his covenant. The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, / But war was in his heart; / His words were softer than oil, / Yet they were drawn swords. Cast your burden on the Lord, / And He shall sustain you; / He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. But You, O God, shall bring them down to the pit of destruction; / Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; / But I will trust in You.”

Every genuine believer in Jesus Christ can attest to the testimony of Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman (1859-1918) in “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners.” How often are we aware that, “Friends may fail me, foes assail me, He, my Savior, makes me whole.”[3]

III. David’s previewed conquest was hopeful (Psalm 41:10-13).

Dr. Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910) explains, “The last words of the psalm are sunny with the assurance of present favour and with boundless hope. The man is still lying on his sick-bed, ringed by whispering foes. There is no change without, but this change has passed: that he has tightened his hold of God, and therefore can feel that his enemies’ whispers will never rise or swell into a shout of victory over him. He can speak of future deliverance as if present; and he can look ahead over an indefinite stretch of sunlit country, scarcely knowing whether the furthest point is earth or no. His integrity is not sinless, nor does he plead it as a reason for Jehovah’s upholding but hopes for it as the consequence of His sustaining hand. He knows that he will approach Jehovah; and though, no doubt, ‘for ever’ on his lips meant less than it does on ours, his assurance of continuous communion with God reached, if not to actual, clear consciousness of immortality, at all events to assurance of a future so in definitely extended and so brightened by the sun light of God’s face, that it wanted but little additional extension or brightening to be the full assurance of life immortal.”[4]

In Psalm 41:10-13 we read, “But You, O Lord, be merciful to me, and raise me up,
That I may repay them. By this I know that You are well pleased with me, / Because my enemy does not triumph over me. As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, / And set me before Your face forever. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel / From everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.”

Dr. Albert Barnes (1798-1870) comments on the phrase, “That I may requite them / That I may repay them; or may recompense them. The word used here—[˜shaalam <h7999> Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible number]—means properly, to be whole, sound, safe; then, in Piel, to make secure, or preserve in safety; and then, to complete, to make whole, to make good, to restore; and then, to make whole or to complete in the sense of recompensing or requiting: to make the matter equal. It would be well expressed here by the familiar language, ‘giving them what they deserve.’ But it is not necessary to understand this as indicating an unforgiving spirit. The writer may have meant to say that the persons who demeaned themselves in this manner ought to be punished; that the public good required it; and being a magistrate, he spoke as one appointed to administer the laws, and prayed for a restoration to strength, that he might administer justice in this and in all similar cases. It is possible also that he meant to say he would repay them by ‘heaping coals of fire on their heads’—by acts of kindness in place of the wrongs that they had done him (see Proverbs 25:21,22; compare Romans 12:20,21); though I admit, that this is not the obvious interpretation. But in order to show that this was uttered with a bad spirit, and under the promptings of revenge, it would be necessary to show that neither of these supposable interpretations could be the true one. It may be added here that we may not be required to vindicate all the expressions of personal feeling found in the Psalms in order to any just view of inspiration.”[5]

David speaks of God upholding him in his integrity. When I think about the word “integrity” my mind goes to Job, another godly sufferer. Job manifests his integrity in Job 1:1-12 and he maintains his integrity as we read in Job 27:1-23. Although neither Job nor David were sinless but both demonstrated a great level of integrity. 


Dr. Ron Susek, author of God Will Answer: 52 Meditations to Enrich Your Prayer Life, recently shared, “It is when we run out of ground for optimism that we step on the soil of genuine faith.” Dr. J. I. Packer explains, “The popular idea of faith is of a certain obstinate optimism: the hope, tenaciously held in the face of trouble, that the universe is fundamentally friendly and things will get better.”[6]

Things will get worse before they get better. In fact, things on earth will not drastically improve until our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, rules and reigns on the earth. Make sure that you make peace with the Prince of Peace on His terms and not yours. As the days get darker and darker we wait with joyful anticipation for the Bright Morning Star to appear. In times like these allow David the sweet singer of Israel to remind you of God’s sufficiency for godly sufferers.

[1]Edwin Paxton Hood, Dark Sayings on a Harp, (London: Jackson, Walford, and Hodder, 1865), 170-171

[2]William D. Barrick, “Amen and Amen” Study Notes, (Psalm 41) [3]J. Wilbur Chapman, “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners,” (1910)

[4]The Biblical Illustrator, ed. Joseph S. Exell, Psalms, Vol. 1, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, n. d.), 337-338

[5]Albert Barnes, Notes, Critical, Explanatory, and Practical, on the Book of Psalms in Three Volumes, Vol. 1, ed., Thulia Susannah Engall (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1868), 403

[6]God’s Priorities for Your Life for Men, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2006), 276

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com



http://www.webspawner.com/users/franklinlkirksey / fkirksey@bellsouth.net / (251) 626-6210

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