Blessed are those who have regard for the sick
The opening verses of this passage alert us to the Psalmist’s intent. Psalm 41:1-3 says:
Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in the land—
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness.
This week we are to consider what it means to seek the Lord by asking what God commands. The first command is clear: we must have regard for those who are “weak.” Who are the weak? In verse 3 they are identified as those “on their sickbed” and those who confined to their bed because they are ill.
If these are the folks whom God counts among the blessed of the land and ones that God delivers and protects, I cannot think of a clearer mandate to think about those in our state who don’t have health insurance. If these are the folks whom God regards, then shouldn’t we, as God’s people, also hold them in high regard to make sure they have their medical needs taken care of.
I also want to be clear that this passage is not an excuse for those of us who are able to forsake the sick, because God is taking care of them. God’s care for the sick does not give us an excuse for inaction; God’s care for the sick is an example that we are to follow. God making us aware of vulnerable people is our reason to follow our Lord more faithfully. In fact, I might be so bold as to say that the “enemies” that the Psalmist refers to might be the ones who disregard the poor. They are the ones looking with malice and speaking falsely against those who consider the sick. The Psalmist even says that some former friends have taken a position on the wrong side of the argument.
The Psalmist closes with a prayer for mercy and a praise of God acknowledging that God’s care for us will be everlasting. On this Lenten Monday, will you take a moment to consider those around you who are sick and who need care? How have you not given them over to the desire of their foes and ensured that they are adequately cared for? Are you involved in the Lord’s work to protect and preserve those who are most sick in our society?
May our collective answer be an unequivocal yes!
Rev David Gilmore, Senior Pastor, Centennial United Methodist Church