Karma – what goes around comes around! The writer of Psalm 41 is looking back at a time of distress and remarking how God delivered him from this situation. “Blessed is he who considers the poor! The Lord delivers him in the day of trouble.” (1) It’s a reminder that, “blessed are the merciful, for they shall attain mercy,” or “as we sow, so shall we reap,” or put into common parlance, what goes around comes around. If we are considerate of others, then others will be considerate of us, or more important, God will consider us. Compassion warrants compassion in return.
The trials of the writer were many. As proof of what God has done he shares his story. In verses 4-10 we hear the lament of the psalmist while in this time of trial. He is sick, in bed, and those around him were far from compassionate. Instead they were waiting for him to die, “When will he die, and his name perish?” (5b)
One person in particular who came to visit prattled on perhaps offering platitudes that provided no comfort, “he utters empty words” (6). And even worse, he gathers misinformation to spread once he left, “his heart gathers mischief; when he goes out, he tells it abroad.” (6) Words of warning to all who might visit the sick of what not to do!
The unkindest blow of all came from a friend who betrayed him, “Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” (9) The same words Jesus used in reference to Judas. In the midst of sickness and betrayal, he turned to the Lord who heard his plea for help, “But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence for ever.” (12)
The word poor in the first verse might also be translated as weak. It is a reminder not only that we need to have special concern for those who are poor among us, but also the weak and vulnerable.
My mother, at age 84, has become increasingly forgetful. I find myself losing patience as I have to repeat the same reminders over and over again. But perhaps it’s not her I’m most impatient with but myself as I find myself having more and more “senior moments.” I hate to think that someday, that forgetful person will be me, but I hope that if that happens, others will be patient with me. I remind myself to be considerate not only of my mom, but of the person I might someday become. What goes around, comes around. I may someday be that person sick in bed and in need of kind words.
Psalm 41 ends with a doxology, words of praise, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen!” (13), ending not only the psalm, but the first section of the book of the Psalms.
If we live lives of integrity showing compassion to those who are vulnerable and poor, we will be blessed and in turn have reasons for blessing our God.
Have you had any experiences similar to those of the writer of this psalm? Have you ever been sick and received no support from friends or family? How did God support you through this time?