The composition begins with the word “blessed”. There are two ways the blessing can be taken. It can be understood as an encouragement to show compassion for the weak or as an objective statement implying that the speaker is one who did so and was therefore cared for by God.1 No doubt it is both. As the rest of the psalm will make clear, David was in the position of being a weak person due to his illness, and he wanted people to show mercy to himself and those like him, which his enemies were not doing.

Psalm 40 ended with the confession that the psalmist was "poor and needy" (v. 17). Psalm 41 picks up at this point with a promise of blessing for the one who has regard for just such needy people. "Weak" is the word used. And that is what the psalmist is! He is in an extremely low point in life. He is sick, slandered by malicious enemies, surrounded by false friends, even betrayed by one of his close friends, whom he trusted. Besides, he is aware, as we should all be, that he is a sinner and therefore not without guilt of his own. These conditions have been preying on his mind and have distressed him.

This brings us to the last of the four categories of those to whom the promises were made, as I presented them. It brings us to the human race at large and particularly to ourselves. The issue is: Have you accepted the fulfillment of God's promise of a Savior who came to deliver you from your sins? Have you put your trust in him?

Yet there was another reality to that first Christmas that I also want you to see. Chiefly, it was the fulfillment of God's promises made to Joseph and Mary, Israel and the entire human race, to you and me. But it was also the acceptance and belief in those promises by those God called. Without that acceptance, the conception and birth of Jesus might well have occurred, but it would have gone unnoticed, unobserved. And it certainly would not have resulted in the accounts of that first Christmas as we know them.

The promise to Israel. The first Christmas was also a fulfillment of God's promise to Israel. We must not forget that. Mary and Joseph were ones to whom God's final promises were made. But long before those promises were given, God had begun to prepare the Jewish nation by many promises of a Messiah who should come.