George Booker
Psalms Studies - Book 1

Psalm 30

1. Structure

David’s fervent praise of God
His former “self-praise”
His renewed praise of God

But, interspersed, verses 2-5 and 7-11 describe his needed experience of discipline, correction and blessing which God brought into his life at one specific period.

2. Historical setting

The title should read: “A Psalm: a Song of the Dedication (Hebrew Hanukkah) of the House: (a Psalm) of David”. The temple was dedicated years after the death of David. Therefore this must refer to his setting up of the Tabernacle on mount Zion (v. 7) and the bringing of the Ark to its place there. The details in 2 Samuel 6 fit perfectly. There the sequence is:

The ark carried on a cart (cp. 1 Chron. 15:7), after the manner of the Philistines (1 Sam. 6:7; contrast the proper procedure outlined in Num. 4:15).
The indignation of the Lord.
David recognized the error, and gave the Ark into the care of Obed-edom (1 Chron. 13:13), a Kohathite (“Gittite” = man of Gath, i.e. in this case Gath-rimmon — a town of Kohathites: whose duty it was to carry the Ark: cp. Josh. 21:21-24 with Num. 7:9). It is plain that David did learn his lesson from the earlier mistakes (1 Chron. 15:11-15).
Why, then, wait three months before proceeding further? Because, as Psalm 30 clearly shows, judgment came on David also (vv. 2,3,8-10), so that he almost died.
Evident blessing on the house of Obed-edom ( 1 Chron. 13:14).
The godly project renewed. This time all goes well.
David dances before the Lord, girded with a linen ephod (1 Chron. 15:25-27).

3. Historical reference

Thou hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. 2 Samuel 8 describes concerted efforts by surrounding nations to smash David’s kingdom before he became too powerful.
O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. That three month’s illness (2 Sam. 6:11) which nearly ended David’s life. Was it a leprosy (cp. Psa. 38)?
Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his. The impressive procession: 2 Sam. 6:12,13; 1 Chron. 15:16-28.

Saints, because now all were most carefully sanctified: 1 Chron. 15:12.

Give thanks: 1 Chron. 16:7,8.

The remembrance of his holiness = His holy memorial, that is, the name Jehovah/Yahweh, used nine times in this psalm (Exod. 3:15). “His holy name” (RSV). Since God’s Name is holy, then any who bear that Name must be holy too (1 Pet. 1:15-17).
His anger...for a moment. 2 Samuel 6:7: the anger of the Lord kindled especially against Uzzah, but actually against David as well.

His favour, a word used often of acceptable sacrifice: 2 Sam. 6:13.

Weeping may endure for a night. Literally, as RV mg.: “may come in to lodge at evening” — precisely as happened when the Ark, now a symbol of woe and judgment, was brought into the house of Obed-edom: 2 Sam. 6:10.

But joy cometh in the morning. It needed only the next day to make evident that when God’s law was respected, the Ark was a token of rich blessing: 2 Sam. 6:11.
In my prosperity. The capture of Jerusalem, military successes, complete unification of the nation, the building of his palace, etc.

I said, I shall never be removed. Pride at work. ‘As for me, I once said....’ Here David is near to Psa. 10:6; Deut. 8:10-14. Compare Paul, near to ruin through the wide success of his preaching: 2 Cor. 12:7.
By thy favour. The glory belongs to God, not to himself.

Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong. Mount Zion had been lately conquered from the Jebusites; and the threshing floor of Araunah had been lately purchased as the only suitable site for the sanctuary (2 Sam. 24).

Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. The divine displeasure: 2 Sam. 6:7 again.
The word “saying” needs to be supplied here at the beginning. The Hebrew text not infrequently takes this for granted: e.g. 2:6; 9:12; 22:7; 39:3; 41:5; 52:6; 109:5,6; 132:2,11.

What profit is there in my blood? asks David. None whatsoever (cp. 49:7) — yet “Thou hast healed me” (v. 2), by the blood of one who is greater than I!

Shall the dust praise thee? Compare Psa. 6:4,5, and Hezekiah in Isa. 38:18,19. It was this eagerness to live to the glory of God which made David a man after God’s own heart.
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing. Very literally so! “David danced before the Lord with all his might” (2 Sam. 6:9,14).

Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness. In his joy David was “girded with a linen ephod” (2 Sam. 6:14) — the priestly garment!

4. Messianic fulfillment

With the exception of one detail (v. 6), from beginning to end this goes with remarkable ease and power.

O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. The Lord’s resurrection.
Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. The inevitable joy of believers, especially at news of their Lord’s resurrection.
His anger. Not with Jesus himself, of course. But did not the Lord lay on him the iniquity of us all (just as, possibly, the neglect in the proper ministration of the Ark was laid at David’s door as well as on Uzzah)? Consider Isa. 53:5; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24; etc.

Joy in the morning = resurrection again!
In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. In what way, and to what degree, could this be true of Jesus? Only in the same sense as in the note on v. 5. The Jews of Christ’s day were very proud of their unique standing before God: “We have Abraham to our father” (Matt. 3:12; John 8:33). But is it also possible that there was a time early in the ministry of Jesus when the exhilaration of what looked like a sweeping success became such a temptation as nearly to cause him to fall?
Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong. “This mountain” Zion (with its corrupt temple) was symbolically cast into the “sea” (Matt. 21:21; cp. Mic. 7:19). But when Jesus is enthroned on Zion — and his resurrection (v. 3) guarantees this (Psa. 2:6,7) — then his mountain will stand strong indeed (Psa. 125:1,2).
Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. I cried to thee, O Lord: and unto the Lord I made supplication. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? The prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane? Is this why he said: “Let this cup pass from me” (Matt. 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42)? Notice also the discouragement predicted in Isaiah 49.
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing. Does this explain the almost universal non-recognition of the risen Lord (Luke 24:16; John 20:14; 21:4)? — i.e. the marked contrast between the man of sorrows and the same individual still getting used to the wonderful exhilaration of having conquered death, not only for himself but also for his friends.

My sackcloth. That linen winding sheet was no better than this, and therefore was left behind in the tomb.

And girded me with gladness. The coat worn by Jesus (John 19:23,24; Matt. 27:35,36; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34) was a chiton (in Hebrew: k’toneth) — a priestly garment. Compare David’s priestly ephod.

5. Other details

For thou hast lifted me up. The Hebrew word normally means: to draw a bucket out of a well.
The pit: s.w. 28:1.
5. ‘For a moment is his anger, but a lifetime is his favour. Weeping may lodge for an evening (a mere passing traveler, on his way to another destination!: cp. idea, Jer. 14:8), but the joy of singing will arrive in the morning (with no intention ever to leave!).’ Other passages with such a dramatic change of tone: Psa. 125:5,6; John 16:20-22; 2 Cor. 4:17; Isa. 53:10,12.
Mourning....dancing. LXX s.w. Acts 8:2, and note the transformation when the great persecutor was converted!
My glory. Figuratively, my tongue or my soul: man’s special glory, above all other creatures — because of his capacity to give glory to his Creator (James 3:5-9; see Psa. 16:9; 108:1). (“Glory” of 16:9 is translated “tongue” by Peter in Acts 2:26.)
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