Man of God in Distress

As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me;
Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”
(Psa.41:4)

Distress and agony visits everyone and stays for longer with some. One’s knowledge and experience of God will come to his rescue at such times. For a Christian it is a part of his training for his future reigning in God’s glory. David was a man who went through this experience in spite of his being anointed as King of Israel to succeed Saul. His Psalms are mostly the reflections of his relationship with God.

The books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles paint the backdrop of many of these Psalms. Psalm 41 reveals the agonizing prayer of the man of God. The context probably was the rebellion of his son Absalom and the betrayal of his trusted friend Ahithophel (2Sam.15:2-6; 16:23). David had been in mental agony as well as physical pain. The guilt of his being slack in fulfilling his duties was eating on him. In such distress he knew there was only one place to confide-the presence of the merciful God. If at all David has any confidence, it is in the character of his God.

Principle of receiving and showing mercy

David starts at the right point-the nature and character of God. He tells God his understanding about God’s nature. God shows mercy to them that are merciful towards the helpless. In other words, you give mercy and receive mercy. However, David is not relying on his virtues here. Instead, he is leaning simply on the mercy of God, admitting his unworthiness and sinfulness. He is pleading for spiritual healing before he can experience physical healing.

Principle of having and losing friends

A powerful man has a lot of friends. But they all desert him as he loses his power. Worldly friends are a commercial lot. They are there as long as opportunities for profit are there. Opportunistic relationships are not built on true love but on flattery and hypocrisy. Such friends turn enemies swapping sides for better benefits. They visit you in your sickness with malicious intentions, to demoralize you, to aggravate your condition and to spread gossip with the information they have gathered. As David narrates, it is a painful experience to go through. The only solace for a child of God is the presence of God, from where he she can draw strength.

It is natural to become bitter and revengeful. Eventually one becomes physically indisposed. David felt guilty that he had neglected his daily responsibilities, thus allowing his rebellious son to take undue advantage of the situation. So he prayed for spiritual and physical healing. He is duty bound to discipline his enemies for their rebellion against God’s anointed. However, the focus is on David’s humility in acknowledging his sinfulness and utter helplessness without God.

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