Be Gracious To Me – Psalm 41

Our Lenten series this year will focus on Psalm 41. No Old Testament saint attests to God’s grace quite like King David. Raised from the sheepfold to the throne of the house of Israel; raised again (and again, and again) from sin: pride, murder, adultery, and despising of God; lifted clear of the snare of the wicked (Psalm 119:110), of the pit (Psalm 30:3), of the very gates of death (Psalm 9:13); with no merit or worthiness in    himself, David was continually raised up by God’s grace and favor.

How has God’s grace raised you? If you haven’t been set on a royal throne or made ruler over a great   people, maybe you’ve seen improvements in your finances or employment. Or perhaps family strife has been quieted. Or maybe a compassionate helper or valuable ally has entered the picture at just the right moment. Have you shaken off a bad illness, a bad habit, or a bad influence? If so, rejoice and thank God for His grace.

But if you feel like you’re sinking instead of rising, what then? Is there any comfort for the saint of God who looks around to find that “the waters have come up to my neck” (Psalm 69:1)? David knows that saint’s fortunes because they are his as well:

In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him;
the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
he is called blessed in the land;
You do not give him up to the will of his enemies. (Psalm 41:1–2)

In the Lord there is hope. Therefore, do not look for hope in your experiences or your emotions, which will portray for you the same bleak scene that David captures in Psalm 41: “My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die, and his name perish?”” (v. 5) “When one comes to see me, he utters empty words, while His heart gathers iniquity.” (v. 6) “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” (v. 9)

Faith offers a better vision: despite all that binds and bruises and bleeds you, God will raise you up. He has raised you already. In Holy Baptism, God has “raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). If you are in Christ, how can you sink? How can you fall?

Lent is a good time to meditate on David’s ordeals and your secure position in Christ. Psalm 41 provides a good guide to your meditation. If the laments of Psalm 41 call to mind your numerous difficulties and need for deliverance, they depict even more clearly the work by which your deliverance has been won.

David “prophesied about the grace that was to be yours” and “searched and inquired carefully” concerning your salvation (1 Peter 1:10). And that salvation is this: the Son of David, by grace, “might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).

Because you are in Christ, you share in all things with Him, even the prophetic Word. David’s vision in Psalm 41 has become your reality in Christ. In the day of trouble, the Lord delivers you; the Lord protects you and keeps you alive; you are called blessed in the land (see Psalm 41:1–2). As surely as the Lenten journey ascends to the victory of Easter, you shall be raised up.

~ Paster Mehl