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Psalms 41:1-4

Context
Psalm 41 1 

For the music director; a psalm of David.

41:1 How blessed 2  is the one who treats the poor properly! 3 

When trouble comes, 4  the Lord delivers him. 5 

41:2 May the Lord protect him and save his life! 6 

May he be blessed 7  in the land!

Do not turn him over 8  to his enemies! 9 

41:3 The Lord supports 10  him on his sickbed;

you completely heal him from his illness. 11 

41:4 As for me, I said: 12 

“O Lord, have mercy on me!

Heal me, for I have sinned against you!

1 sn Psalm 41. The psalmist is confident (vv. 11-12) that the Lord has heard his request to be healed (vv. 4-10), and he anticipates the joy he will experience when the Lord intervenes (vv. 1-3). One must assume that the psalmist is responding to a divine oracle of assurance (see P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 [WBC], 319-20). The final verse is a fitting conclusion to this psalm, but it is also serves as a fitting conclusion to the first “book” (or major editorial division) of the Psalter. Similar statements appear at or near the end of each of the second, third, and fourth “books” of the Psalter (see Pss 72:19, 89:52, and 106:48 respectively).

2 tn The Hebrew noun is an abstract plural. The word often refers metonymically to the happiness that God-given security and prosperity produce (see Pss 1:1, 3; 2:12; 34:9; 65:4; 84:12; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 127:5; 128:1; 144:15).

3 sn One who treats the poor properly. The psalmist is characterizing himself as such an individual and supplying a reason why God has responded favorably to his prayer. The Lord’s attitude toward the merciful mirrors their treatment of the poor.

4 tn Heb “in the day of trouble” (see Ps 27:5).

5 tn That is, the one who has been kind to the poor. The prefixed verbal form could be taken as jussive of prayer (“may the Lord deliver,” see v. 2), but the preceding parallel line is a declaration of fact, not a prayer per se. The imperfect can be taken here as future (“will deliver,” cf. NEB, NASB) or as generalizing (“delivers,” cf. NIV, NRSV). The parallel line, which has a generalizing tone, favors the latter. At the same time, though the psalmist uses a generalizing style here, he clearly has himself primarily in view.

6 tn The prefixed verbal forms are taken as jussives in the translation because the jussive is clearly used in the final line of the verse, suggesting that this is a prayer. The psalmist stops to pronounce a prayer of blessing on the godly individual envisioned in v. 1. Of course, he actually has himself primarily in view. He mixes confidence (vv. 1, 3) with petition (v. 2) because he stands in the interval between the word of assurance and the actual intervention by God.

7 tc The translation follows the consonantal Hebrew text (Kethib), which has a Pual (passive) prefixed form, regarded here as a jussive. The Pual of the verb אָשַׁר (’ashar) also appears in Prov 3:18. The marginal reading (Qere) assumes a vav (ו) consecutive and Pual perfect. Some, with the support of the LXX, change the verb to a Piel (active) form with an objective pronominal suffix, “and may he bless him,” or “and he will bless him” (cf. NIV).

8 tn The negative particle אַל (’al) before the prefixed verbal form indicates the verb is a jussive and the statement a prayer. Those who want to take v. 2 as a statement of confidence suggest emending the negative particle to לֹא (lo’), which is used with the imperfect. See the earlier note on the verbal forms in line one of this verse. According to GKC 322 §109.e, this is a case where the jussive is used rhetorically to “express that something cannot or should not happen.” In this case one might translate, “you will not turn him over to his enemies,” and take the preceding verbal forms as indicative in mood.

9 tn Heb “do not give him over to the desire of his enemies” (see Ps 27:12).

10 tn The prefixed verbal form could be taken as jussive, continuing the prayer of v. 2, but the parallel line in v. 3b employs the perfect, suggesting that the psalmist is again speaking in the indicative mood (see v. 1b). The imperfect can be understood as future or as generalizing (see v. 1).

11 tn Heb “all his bed you turn in his illness.” The perfect is used here in a generalizing sense (see v. 1) or in a rhetorical manner to emphasize that the healing is as good as done.

12 sn In vv. 4-10 the psalmist recites the prayer of petition and lament he offered to the Lord.



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