There are three ways of reading a Psalm, particularly a Messianic psalm like Psalm 41: (1) you can read it in it’s historical Old Testament context, (i.e., the author’s perspective); (2) you can read it through the lens of the New Testament authors (i.e., Christ’s perspective in a Messianic psalm); or (3) you can read it from a personal perspective—like God is speaking directly to you, or you are praying this psalm to God. A good study of any psalm will apply all three of these perspectives together, as I have tried to do so far in our study of the Psalms. However, I thought we could use Psalm 41 as an example of the three different perspectives one can have when reading the Psalm.
We began on Friday by looking at Psalm 41 from David’s Perspective. Today, we will read it through the lens of the New Testament perspective, particularly as it applies to Jesus Christ. Tomorrow, we will conclude our study of Psalm 41 by reading it through the personal perspective, as a private devotion with the Lord.
Before you read this Psalm, please remember that many of its verses are quoted in the New Testament and applied to Jesus Christ. As you read Psalm 41, try to read it from the perspective of Christ Himself speaking these words.
It is not hard for us to imagine Christ speaking the word “blessed.” We feel like we are back in the Beatitudes and being told that God will protect those who protect the poor (1-3). However, when we get to verse 4, and try to imagine Jesus saying “heal me, for I have sinned against you,” we run into a little bit of trouble.
Jesus never sinned. He could never say this to God. Yet, when we look at His passion, we are reminded that He took our sin upon His shoulders. It is while our Lord hung on the cross that He experienced this separation from God and desperately wanted the Lord’s mercy. Instead of mercy, God poured out His wrath upon His son, leading Christ to cry out “my God, why have you forsaken me?”
As the psalm continues, we see Christ’s enemies surround him at the foot of the cross (5). They have plotted and planned for his death for years, and now they will finally see him suffer (6-7), though they do not realize that He is suffering for their sins. In their arrogance, they seal His tomb and boast that “he will not rise again from where he lies” (8). They are so confident of their schemes because they had Judas, “my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread,” betray his Lord (9). Now Jesus is dead and buried. They believe they have won.
But God was gracious to Jesus! He literally raised Him up from the grave (10). The resurrection of Christ proved that God accepted His sacrifice on behalf of our sins; that God has delighted in what Christ has done and will now raise His name above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. No enemy will shout in triumph over Christ (11). After ascending into heaven, Jesus will sit in the presence of the Father forever (12).
Surely, everything that Jesus has done was for the glory of God, leading Him to conclude with David, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.”
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