Lifting Up Those Who Are Down.
“Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.”– Psalm 41:1 NLT
At first glance, this Psalm seems a bit disjointed. He starts out talking about the poor and how God blesses those who show them kindness. The next thing David is confessing his sin and crying out for mercy because of the apparent consequences of that sin. His problem seems to have nothing to do with poverty or need, but is due to his own willful sin. But if you look closer at the word translated “poor” in verse one, you find out that it can also be translated “one who is low or weak.” It is from a root word that means “something hanging low.” It refers to something or someone languishing, being weak or powerless. So David is not necessarily talking about poverty as it relates to finances, but he is talking about spiritual and emotional poverty, and he is speaking from experience.
David is suffering because of sin. He has confessed that sin to God, but he is still experiencing the consequences of whatever it is he has done. He has close acquaintances who come to visit him in his pain and suffering, but who gossip about him when they leave and wish him nothing but ill-will. They look at his condition and, rather than encourage him, they try to figure out what it is is wrong with him, why he has done to deserve something so bad, and debate when he is going to die. David knows he has done nothing to deserve this kind of treatment from his friends. If you recall, back in Psalm 35, David said that when his enemies were sick, he grieved for them. He even prayed and fasted for them, feeling sadness for their condition, “as though they were my friends or family” (Psalm 35:14 NLT). But now that David is down and out, his “friends” have become his enemies. So David is left to seek mercy from God.
But what a reminder to those of us who claim to be Christ-followers that we are to have the same heart He had. We are to love like He loved. Jesus said of Himself, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come” (Luke 4:18-19 NLT). We are to carry on that ministry to the down and out today. The Proverbs of Solomon remind us that our words carry weight. They are powerful and can accomplish good or bring about evil in the lives of others. “The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain” (Proverbs 10:11). “The words of the godly encourage many” (Proverbs 10:21). Solomon also warns that “with their words, the godless destroy their friends” (Proverbs 11:9). “Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing” (Proverbs 12:18).
We are the hands, the feet, and the mouthpieces for Christ here on this earth. We are to have a heart for the lowly and all those who are languishing, whether it is because of their own sin or the sinful condition of the world in which we live. There are those who are languishing in financial poverty, but there are also those who are suffering in emotional and spiritual poverty. We are to bring them words of encouragement and healing. We are to show them mercy and grace. We are to love them with both words and actions. David knew that to do so was a rewarding experience. To do so was to live a life that was pleasing to God. God rewards those who care for and encourage the down and out. He repays them in kind. He “rescues them when they are in trouble” (Psalm 41:1 NLT).
Father, give me a heart for the down and out. Help me to see them all around me. It is easy to see the financially poor, but the spiritually and emotionally impoverished are all around me and they tend to hide their condition well. Don’t let me be like David’s friends, who because of their treatment of him in his time of need, were no better than enemies to him. May I be a true friend to those in need, providing words of encouragement and actions that back up what I say. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men