Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Psalms 41:8

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him - בו יצוק בליעל דבר debar beliyaal yatsuk bo, a thing, word, or pestilence of Belial, is poured out upon him. His disease is of no common sort; it is a diabolical malady.

He shall rise up no more - His disease is incurable without a miracle; and he is too much hated of God to have one wrought for him. Some apply this to the death and resurrection of Christ; he lieth - he is dead and buried; he shall never rise again from the dead.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

An evil disease - Margin, “a thing of Belial.” The Hebrew is literally “a word of Belial.” This has been very variously understood and interpreted. The Septuagint renders it: λόγον παράνομον logon paranomon - wicked word; “a wicked determination” (Thompson); that is, they formed a wicked purpose against him, to wit, by saying that he was now confined to his bed, and could not rise again. The Latin Vulgate renders it in a similar manner: Verbum iniquitum constituerunt adversum me. Luther: “They have formed a wicked device (Bubenstuck) against me;” they behave in a knavish or wicked manner. DeWette, “Destruction (Verderben) or punishnnent (Strafe) is poured upon him.” The term rendered “disease” means properly “word” or “thing;” and Prof. Alexander renders it, “A word of Belial is poured upon him.” The word rendered “evil, Belial,” means literally “without use” - בליעל belı̂ya‛al - from בלי belı̂y “not or without,” and יעל ya‛al “use or profit.”

Then it means worthlessness, wickedness, destruction; and hence, in connection with man, denotes one who is wicked, worthless, abandoned. It is difficult to determine its meaning here. The connection Psalm 41:3 would seem to suggest the idea adopted by our translators; the words themselves would seem rather to convey the idea of some reproach, or harsh saying - some vain, wicked, malicious words that were uttered against him. That there was disease in the case, and that the psalm was composed in view of it, and of the treatment which the author experienced from those who had been his professed friends when suffering under it, seems to me to be manifest from Psalm 41:1, Psalm 41:3-4, Psalm 41:8; but it is probable that the reference in this expression is not to the disease, but to the words or the conduct of his calumniators. It is evident from the pronoun him - the third person - that this refers, as our translators have indicated by the words they say to something that they said in regard to him; something which they affirmed as the result of their observations on his condition, Psalm 41:6-7. The true idea, therefore, I think is this: “They say - that is, those who came to see me said - A ‹word of evil‘ - “a sentence of evil or destruction” - is poured upon him. He is suffering under such a ‹word of destruction;‘ or, such a word (that is, sentence) as will involve his destruction, by way of punishment for his sins; therefore all is over with him, and he must die. He can hope to rise no more.” This would express the idea that they regarded his death as certain, for he seemed to be under a sentence which made that sure.

Cleaveth fast unto him - Or rather, “is poured upon him.” The word used here - צוּק tsûq - means:

(1) to be narrow, straitened, compressed; and then

(2) to pour out - as metal is poured out Job 28:2, or as words are poured out in prayer Isaiah 26:16.

Here it would seem to mean that such a sentence was poured upon him, or that he had become submerged or swallowed up under it. It was like the pouring out of a torrent on him, overwhelming him with floods of water, so that he could not hope to escape, or to rise again.

And now that he lieth, he shall rise up no more - There is no hope for him; no prospect that he will ever get up again. They felt that they might indulge their remarks, therefore, freely, as he would not be able to take revenge on them, and their expectations and hopes were about to be accomplished by his death. Compare Psalm 41:5. As a part of his sufferings, all this was aggravated by the fact that they regarded those sufferings as full proof of his guilt; that he could not reply to their accusations; and that be was about to die under that imputation.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
We complain, and justly, of the want of sincerity, and that there is scarcely any true friendship to be found among men; but the former days were no better. One particularly, in whom David had reposed great confidence, took part with his enemies. And let us not think it strange, if we receive evil from those we suppose to be friends. Have not we ourselves thus broken our words toward God? We eat of his bread daily, yet lift up the heel against him. But though we may not take pleasure in the fall of our enemies, we may take pleasure in the making vain their designs. When we can discern the Lord's favour in any mercy, personal or public, that doubles it. If the grace of God did not take constant care of us, we should not be upheld. But let us, while on earth, give heartfelt assent to those praises which the redeemed on earth and in heaven render to their God and Saviour.