Summary: "Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).
A JOYFUL TESTIMONY
The junior members of the drama group were playing the part of carol singers in the musical play Toad of Toad Hall. I can still remember hearing their sweet voices singing just one line: “Joy shall be yours in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). I did not know the Lord then, but for me this is one of many evidences that the Lord was already graciously planting His Word inside me, even in the midst of a rebellious youth.
Like so many of the Psalms, this is a song of reversals. King David is drawing us through the ebbs and flows of the life of faith, through pain and loss - and death itself (Psalm 30:3) – to the place where we can give thanks and praise to the LORD “forever” (Psalm 30:12). There is a strong suggestion of Resurrection: both that of Jesus (Psalm 30:5), and our own (Psalm 30:11).
The initiative is with the LORD throughout (cf. Isaiah 54:7-8). However, that does not excuse us from the life of prayer: in fact, it encourages us to more diligent prayer, and greater faith in prayer (cf. James 5:16). If God has delivered me up to this point, then why should I allow my knees to droop and my hands to hang down (cf. Hebrews 12:12)?
In the midst of his prayer David takes time out to exhort others to join him in praise and thanksgiving (Psalm 30:4). It is with this that the Psalmist begins (Psalm 30:1), and ends (Psalm 30:12). Furthermore, the “And in my prosperity I said…” (Psalm 30:6) also brings in the element of confession, – which is not unlike the ‘But as for me…’ of Psalm 73:2.
The superscription of the Psalm suggests that this was a song from the dedication of the house of David. It reflects a time when David was “secure in his mountain” (Psalm 30:7; cf. 2 Samuel 5:10-12). However, the danger comes when we become self-sufficient and self-reliant, trusting in past experience and present resource rather than in the LORD Himself.
The Psalm itself falls into five parts.
1. David praises the LORD for lifting him up (Psalm 30:1) from the grave, and from the gates of death (Psalm 30:3). This has confounded his enemies (Psalm 30:1), bringing honour to the LORD. In his plight David cried to the LORD his God, and the LORD healed him (Psalm 30:2).
2. David exhorts the congregation to sing praise to the LORD, and to give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name (Psalm 30:4; cf. Psalm 29:2). Although Jesus twice warns us against too simplistic a view about the relationship between sin and suffering (Luke 13:1-5; John 9:1-3), the Psalmist is in no doubt that what he got he deserved: it was God’s anger that did this (Psalm 30:5; cf. Isaiah 38:15). Yet God’s anger is brief, and His favour is life-giving, lifelong, and eternal (Psalm 30:5).
3. David outlines the instance of backsliding that he feels led to this stern chastisement from the LORD. First, he found himself relying upon what God had given, rather than upon the LORD Himself (Psalm 30:6). Secondly, he became presumptuous, mistaking self-sufficiency for trust (Psalm 30:7). Suddenly he lost his sense of the presence of the LORD, and it seemed as if all his props were gone!
4. Yet David did the right thing: he “cried to the LORD” (Psalm 30:8) and prayed for mercy (Psalm 30:10). In fact, the Psalmist pleaded with the LORD, and argued that it would be against God’s own glory for Him to allow David to go down prematurely to the pit of death (Psalm 30:9; cf. Isaiah 38:18-19). Jesus did, in due time, go into ‘the heart of the earth’ (Matthew 12:40), but He on our behalf prevailed over death, and for those who follow Him, ‘death has lost its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55).
5. Thus we are brought full circle to the praises with which we began. David yet again wonders at the reversal he has experienced (Psalm 30:11), and commits himself anew to a life of praise and thanksgiving (Psalm 30:12).
May we never forget all that the LORD has done for us, and may we never cease to give Him the praise due to His name. Now, and always, and throughout eternity.