Consider the Poor (Ps 41)
“Blessed is the one who considers the poor!”
We want to read it as a how to guide, as though it were saying, “here’s how to be blessed: consider the poor.” This idea is reinforced by the general way that religions around the world work. They say, “this is what you must do in order for God to accept you.” And it is not hard to read that idea into the words that we often find on the pages of Scripture.
But this misconstrues the Psalm altogether. The key is in understanding the word, “consider.” It doesn’t necessarily mean go help the poor, though that is a good thing to do and could very well be a down-the-line result. But what you do for the poor is not the point of the word. Rather, we are to learn from the poor. It comes from the Hebrew word, שָׂכַל, which means to “show oneself attentive to” or to “understand” the poor. That changes everything in terms of understanding this Psalm. What do we learn? We learn that the poor are recipients of the Lord’s favor.