The Blessedness of Considering the Case of the Poor
Psalm 41:1-13
Blessed is he that considers the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.…

There is an evident want of congeniality between the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of the Christian. Now, so long as this wisdom has for its object some secular advantage, I yield it an unqualified reverence. If in private life a man be wise in the management of his farm, or his fortune, or his family; or if in public life he have wisdom to steer an empire through all its difficulties, and to carry it to aggrandizement and renown — the respect which I feel for such wisdom as this is most cordial and entire, and supported by the universal acknowledgment of all whom I call to attend to it. Let me now suppose that this wisdom has changed its object — that the man whom I am representing go exemplify this respectable attribute, instead of being wise for time, is wise for eternity — that he labours by the faith and sanctification of the Gospel for unperishable honours — what becomes of your respect for him now? Are there not some of you who are quite sensible that this respect is greatly impaired, since the wisdom of the man has taken so unaccountable a change in its object and in its direction? Men do not respect a wisdom which they-do not comprehend. They may love the innocence of a decidedly religious character, but they do not much, if at all, venerate its wisdom. The things of the Spirit of God are foolishness to the natural man. And all that has now been said of wisdom is applicable, with almost no variation, to another attribute of the human character, and which I would call "lovely." I mean — benevolence. But that which the world admires, and that which is truly Christian, are vastly different. The benevolence of the world — with its poetical sentiment — the Christian may not understand; that of the Christian, with its self-denial and enduring of "hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ," the world does not understand. It is positively nauseated by the poetical amateur. And the contrast does not stop here. The benevolence of the Gospel is not only at antipodes with that of the visionary sons and daughters of poetry, but it even varies in some of its most distinguishing features from the experimental benevolence of real and familiar life. The fantastic benevolence of poetry is now indeed pretty well exploded; and in the more popular works of the age there is a benevolence of a far truer and more substantial kind substituted in its place — the benevolence which you meet with among men of business and observation — the benevolence which bustles and finds employment among the most public and ordinary scenes; and which seeks for objects, not where the flower blows loveliest, and the stream, with its gentle murmurs, falls sweetest on the ear; but finds them in its every-day walks, goes in quest of them through the heart of the great city, and is not afraid to meet them in its most putrid lanes and loathsome receptacles. Now, it must be acknowledged that this benevolence is of a far more respectable kind than poetic sensibility, which is of no use because it admits of no application. Yet I am not afraid to say, that, respectable as it is, it does not come up to the benevolence of the Christian; and is at variance, in some of its most capital ingredients, with the morality of the Gospel. For time, and the accommodations of time, form all its subject, and all its exercise, lit labours, and often with success, to provide for its object a warm and a well-sheltered tenement; but it looks not beyond the few little years when the earthly house of this tabernacle shall be dissolved, when the soul shall be driven from its perishable tenement, and the only benevolence it will need will be that of those who have directed it heavenwards. The one minds earthly things, the other has its conversation in heaven. That which is the chief motive in the heart of the worldly philanthropist are but mere accessories in the heart of the Christian. All will applaud the benevolence of a Howard, but only the Christian will feel enthusiasm for the apostleship of Paul, who in the sublimer sense accomplished the liberty of the captive and brought them that sat in darkness out of the prison house. And hence it is that notwithstanding missionary zeal has ever been the pioneer for civilization, yet because the missionary labours for the eternal salvation of the heathen, the cry of fanaticism is raised against them, and they are regarded by men of the world with prejudice and disgust. Therefore we are to note the way in which the Bible enjoins us to consider the poor. Our text does not say, Commiserate the poor, for if it said only this it would leave them to the precarious provision of mere impulsive sympathy. Feeling is but a faint and fluctuating security. Fancy may mislead it. The sober realities of life may disgust it. Disappointment may extinguish it. Ingratitude may embitter it. Deceit, with its counterfeit representations, may allure it to the wrong object. The Bible, then, instead of leaving the relief of the poor to the mere instinct of sympathy, makes it a subject for consideration — Blessed is he that considereth the poor — a grave and prosaic exercise I do allow, and which makes no figure in those high-wrought descriptions, where the exquisite tale of benevolence is made up of all the sensibilities of tenderness on the one hand, and of all the ecstasies of gratitude on the other. But the poor have souls and need to be saved, and all benevolence, however necessary and praiseworthy, that ignores this deepest need, is but partial and incomplete.

(T. Chalmers, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.} Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

WEB: Blessed is he who considers the poor. Yahweh will deliver him in the day of evil.

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