Psalm 41:

Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor!
The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.
The Lord protects them
and keeps them alive.
He gives them prosperity in the land
and rescues them from their enemies.
The Lord nurses them when they are sick
and restores them to health.

David, facing one of his regular times of hardship, starts this prayer by reminding himself that he’d found that serving God brought practical benefits in this present life. When we read this today, we sometimes think, “He’s trying to butter God up, so he can get what he wants.” However, I really think David was encouraging himself to have enough confidence so that he would continue to ask for God’s intervention in the situation.

“O Lord,” I prayed, “have mercy on me.
Heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
But my enemies say nothing but evil about me.
“How soon will he die and be forgotten?” they ask.
They visit me as if they were my friends,
but all the while they gather gossip,
and when they leave, they spread it everywhere.
All who hate me whisper about me,
imagining the worst.
“He has some fatal disease,” they say.
“He will never get out of that bed!”

Here, David begins by admitting his own failings, progressing to show how his foes have violated his trust and God’s as well. These people are rejoicing as they see his suffering. They think, “It won’t be much longer until he is gone.”

Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely,
the one who shared my food, has turned against me.

This is the verse that foreshadowed Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. It is an example of just how intensely David feels about these former friends turning against him.

Lord, have mercy on me.
Make me well again, so I can pay them back!
I know you are pleased with me,
for you have not let my enemies triumph over me.
You have preserved my life because I am innocent;
you have brought me into your presence forever.

Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
who lives from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and amen!

After all of this, David finally gets down to his request—save me from this situation (sickness, in David’s case) and raise me up—and then finishes by giving God the honor he deserves.

This may not be exactly a model to be followed, but it is an example of the kind of honesty before God that characterizes a true Christian life. Many times when we are confronted with our misconduct, we react by saying, “I did not [insert misdeed here]! I did not do it.”

News flash: life, especially eternal life is not politics, where all you have to do is convince a few people not to cast you aside despite your continued misbehavior. There is a report card day, a time when all of the delays and dodging will be repaid. Surely, it is better to admit your wrongdoing and to stop doing it any more, than it is to conceal it and continue doing it.

Likewise, you may need a confidence-builder similar to David’s. I do not think there is anything wrong with realizing that and acting upon it. In fact, I believe that it is probably better to start out using such tools, until you know that they are not needed.

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