What does Psalm chapter 41 mean?The collection of Psalms is sometimes divided into five "books," with the first including everything from Psalm 1 through Psalm 41. This passage was probably inspired by the attempted rebellion of David's son, Absalom (2 Samuel 15—18). Themes of slander, plotting, danger, and betrayal are compared to confidence in God's healing, protective ability.
David begins by stating that God will provide protection for those who care for the disadvantaged. The Hebrew term translated as "poor" here includes more than just those lacking resources. David sees himself as one of these righteous people (2 Samuel 9:3–13). He connects this to God's ability to heal, then confesses his sin and asks for God's "healing." This leads into the following passage, where the early verses establish David's reasons to trust that the Lord will be with him in a demanding situation (Psalm 41:1–4).
In David's case, enemies were plotting and scheming for his death. In fact, they wanted to take his throne, kill him, and erase his legacy. One of the conspirators was his own trusted advisor, Ahithophel (2 Samuel 16:23), who strongly sought to see David killed (2 Samuel 17:1–3, 14). During the Last Supper, Jesus refers to David's comment about a betraying friend, applying the idea to Judas (John 13:18). Yet David still expresses confidence in God's protection (Psalm 41:5–10).
The psalm ends with David's clear expectation: that the Lord will give him victory over his enemies, rather than letting him die. He praises God for having a "forever" relationship, ending the psalm with a blessing of praise to God (Psalm 41:11–13).