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Psalm 41[a]

For the music director, a psalm of David.

41 How blessed[b] is the one who treats the poor properly.[c]
When trouble comes,[d] may[e] the Lord deliver him.[f]
May the Lord protect him and save his life.[g]
May he be blessed[h] in the land.
Do not turn him over[i] to his enemies.[j]
The Lord supports[k] him on his sickbed;
you have healed him from his illness.[l]

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  1. Psalm 41:1 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. Psalm 41:1 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. Psalm 41:1 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. Psalm 41:1 tn Heb “in the day of trouble” (see Ps 27:5).
  5. Psalm 41:1 tn The prefixed verb יְמַלְּטֵהוּ (yemalletehu) has the form of the pronominal suffix typical of the jussive not the imperfect (יְמַלְּטֶנּוּ, yemalletennu). The jussive form continues throughout the next verse. The principle that begins v. 1 is the basis for the petition in vv. 1b-2. Verse 3 transitions to a statement of confidence and testimony.
  6. Psalm 41:1 tn That is, the one who has been kind to the poor.
  7. Psalm 41:2 tn The prefixed verbal forms are taken as jussives in the translation because of the form of the pronominal suffix (-ehu rather than -ennu) and because the jussive is clearly used in the final line of the verse.
  8. Psalm 41:2 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 (ʾashar) 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).
  9. Psalm 41:2 tn The negative particle אַל (ʾal) 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 (loʾ), 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. However, none of the examples offered in GKC for this use of the jussive are compelling.
  10. Psalm 41:2 tn Heb “do not give him over to the desire of his enemies” (see Ps 27:12).
  11. Psalm 41:3 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).
  12. Psalm 41:3 tn Heb “all his bed you have changed in his illness.” The perfect verb may indicate a testimony of what God has done in the past as part of the statement of confidence.