Verse 12, the last verse of Book 1 of the Psalter, is a final outbreak of praise. Significantly, it is how each of the five books end. Books 1, 2 and 3 end with the phrase "Amen and Amen." Book 4 ends with the words "Let all the people say, Amen! Praise the LORD" (or "Hallelujah"). Book 5 ends with a double "Praise the LORD.”

The worst thing of all was that David has been betrayed by his close friend (v. 9). This may have happened more than once in David's life and no doubt did. But the situation in the psalm is adequately accounted for or at least well illustrated by the betrayal of Ahithophel, David's trusted counselor, at the time of Absalom's rebellion (2 Sam. 16:15-17:23).

His enemies were hoping for his death (v.4). It is hard for us to imagine such ill will on the part of anyone toward David, because we have such a good impression of him from the account of his life given in the Old Testament. But David did have enemies. At the beginning of his reign he had enemies from the family and house of King Saul, his predecessor. Later, even his own son Absalom turned against him, and when Absalom did that there were many in the palace and army who followed him.

The composition begins with the word “blessed”. There are two ways the blessing can be taken. It can be understood as an encouragement to show compassion for the weak or as an objective statement implying that the speaker is one who did so and was therefore cared for by God.1 No doubt it is both. As the rest of the psalm will make clear, David was in the position of being a weak person due to his illness, and he wanted people to show mercy to himself and those like him, which his enemies were not doing.

Psalm 40 ended with the confession that the psalmist was "poor and needy" (v. 17). Psalm 41 picks up at this point with a promise of blessing for the one who has regard for just such needy people. "Weak" is the word used. And that is what the psalmist is! He is in an extremely low point in life. He is sick, slandered by malicious enemies, surrounded by false friends, even betrayed by one of his close friends, whom he trusted. Besides, he is aware, as we should all be, that he is a sinner and therefore not without guilt of his own. These conditions have been preying on his mind and have distressed him.