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PSALM 41

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in the land—
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness.

I said, “Have mercy on me, Lord;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die and his name perish?”
When one of them comes to see me,
he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
then he goes out and spreads it around.

All my enemies whisper together against me;
they imagine the worst for me, saying,
“A vile disease has afflicted him;
he will never get up from the place where he lies.”
Even my close friend,
someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
has turned against me.

10 But may you have mercy on me, Lord;
raise me up, that I may repay them.
11 I know that you are pleased with me,
for my enemy does not triumph over me.
12 Because of my integrity you uphold me
and set me in your presence forever.

13 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.

 

Picture the scene. Jesus knows that the hour of his death is upon him (John 13:1). He takes off his outer clothing, places a towel around his waist, then kneels before his disciples. One by one he washes the feet of his friends: Peter, James, John, Judas… every one of the twelve. Getting the muck of their feet all over him. As he finishes, he asks if they know what he’s done for them. If they understand his love. Of course, none of them really understand his love just yet. But one of them has something very unloving on his mind. And Jesus knows it.

Jesus, “very troubled in spirit” says next, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me” (John 13:21). The other disciples ask “Who?” And Jesus answers, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot (John 13:26). In the lead up to that declaration, Jesus had quoted from verse 9 of our Psalm: “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’” (John 13:18).

Many times in the Psalms we see God’s King encircled by enemies. But how much more bitter is it when one of those enemies was once a friend. Judas, who shared bread, shared meals, shared life with Jesus, will soon share his location with others, enabling his arrest. But in what Jesus says next, it’s clear just how alone Jesus will soon be. It’s not that one friend betrays and the other eleven stay faithful. They all fall away. So Jesus goes to the cross alone, accompanied only by the muck of dirty feet and the muck of filthy souls. Do you understand what God’s true king has done for you?

The references in this psalm to illness are very pertinent to our current circumstances.  The assurance that the Lord is with his people on a sick bed are also a great comfort.  Through the media, the prospect of a lonely death confronts us all every day.  However, those who rest in Jesus are never alone and the ultimate victory of eternal life through him is assured.

Head: What have you learnt about Jesus from Psalm 41? What have you learnt about yourself?

Heart: How does it make you feel that Jesus went to the cross covered with the filth of your sin?

Hands: The disciples who fell away because they didn’t yet understand the cross, went on to live bold lives for Jesus once they did. As you live in the light of the cross, what bold steps can you take today to make it clear that Jesus is your king?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that Jesus is the King who washes feet. Thank you that Jesus is the King who washes souls. Thank you that, deserted by all, he carried the filth of my sin to the cross and nailed it there. Please help me to truly understand what Jesus has done for me. Help me to be bold for him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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