Read: Psalm 30; Deuteronomy 20:5; 1 Chronicles 21:26 – 30; 22:1
Psalm 30 is titled “A Psalm of David. A Song for the dedication of the House.” There are three main theories regarding the occasion for David’s writing of Psalm 30. He may have written it to be used by Solomon at the dedication of the Temple; or he may have written it around the time that he bought the threshing floor from Ornan which became the Temple site; or he may have written it at the time he dedicated his own house, according to the custom described in Deuteronomy 20:5. Because the topic of the psalm is thanksgiving to God for restoration after a great difficulty that David perceived to be related to God’s anger, the second of these theories seems most likely. David bought the threshing floor from Ornan for the purpose of offering sacrifices of appeasement in order to avert the plague the Lord had sent in punishment for David’s taking a census. God averted His wrath, stopped the plague, and delivered David and his people. According to the Mishnah, the earliest collection of rabbinical commentaries on the Scriptures, this Psalm was sung when worshippers brought to the Temple on the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) their offerings of two loaves of bread made from the wheat harvest. No doubt the heartfelt expressions of thanksgiving that David included in the psalm led to its use on the Feast of Weeks, and as the “Song for the Day” on Hanukkah.
Think About It: From what difficulties have I experienced deliverance? Have I remembered to offer God heartfelt thanks for delivering me from troubles?
Prayer: “I extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up.”
Read: Psalm 30; Ezra 3:10 – 13
The title of Psalm 30 contains two Hebrew words, either of which, when used alone, can be translated as “song.” When used together, however, one of the words is understood as referring to the lyrics of the Psalm, and the other to the musical accompaniment. The Midrash adds the explanation that two words were used for “song” in the title of Psalm 30 because the Temple was dedicated twice – once after Solomon built it, and again, when it was rebuilt during the days of Ezra. The dedication of the Temple during Solomon’s reign was a ceremony of pure joy, but Ezra’s dedication ceremony was a mixture of joy and weeping, as the old men who remembered the glory of the Solomon’s Temple wept at the lesser glory of the latter Temple. An account of the building of Solomon’s Temple is found in 1 Kings 6 – 7. The rebuilt Temple lacked the physical beauty and material wealth of Solomon’s Temple. It also lacked spiritually significant items: the sacred fire, which was kept burning continuously, had lost its continuity; the Ark of the Covenant was gone; the Urim and Thummim, devices used to discern God’s will, were also gone, meaning that immediate access to direction from God was seemingly lost. Subjective evaluation of the past usually makes it seem rosier than the present, but even by objective standards, the glory of the rebuilt Temple was considerably diminished compared to the glory of Solomon’s Temple.
Think About It: What were some of the dangers in comparing the new Temple with the old Temple? Was everything always “just absolutely wonderful” in Solomon’s Temple (see, for example, 2 Kings 23:7)? What spiritually false conclusions might be reached from a comparison of the rebuilt Temple with Solomon’s Temple?
Prayer: Lord, grant me spiritual discernment; help me to see Your glory now!
Read: Psalm 30
While the use of Psalm 30 was for a ceremony of dedication and for thanksgiving on Pentecost, the specific topic of Psalm 30 is thanksgiving for deliverance from suffering. David mentions several different kinds of suffering in the psalm, either directly or by implication: 1) the suffering caused by enemies (v.1); 2) the suffering of sickness (v.2); 3) the threat of death (v.3, 9); 4) the experience of God’s anger (v.5); 5) the experience of a sense of separation from God (v.7); 6) the loss of prosperity and security (vv.6-7); 7) the suffering of mourning (v.11).
Think About It: How many of the kinds of suffering mentioned in Psalm 30 have I experienced? Am I experiencing any of these kinds of sufferings right now? Which kind of suffering do I feel is the worst kind?
Prayer: To You, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy.
Read: Psalm 30
If the occasion for the writing of Psalm 30 was David’s purchase of the threshing floor of Ornan, we know that the cause of David’s suffering was God’s anger because David violated the Law by taking a census of God’s people. God’s wrath is not the only reason for pain and suffering, however.
Think About It: What are the causes of suffering suggested by the following New Testament references: Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 4:17 – 5:8; 1 Corinthians 11:29 – 32; James 5:14 – 16; John 9:1 – 5; 2 Corinthians 12:7 – 10; Romans 8:19 – 23. Is it always possible to know the cause of suffering in a specific situation?
Prayer: Lord, grant me the grace to endure suffering with patience and hope.
Read: Psalm 30:1 – 3; 2 Samuel 24:10; 1 Chronicles 21:1 – 17
If 1 Chronicles 21 is indeed the context of Psalm 30, the occasion for the psalm was one of severe suffering with the threat of even worse to come. Yet even in the midst of suffering, David was hopeful: “Let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercy is very great“ (1 Chronicles 21:13). How can we maintain a hopeful and positive attitude in the face of suffering? David’s example is helpful. Although David knew his suffering was from God’s hand, he remembered that God is merciful. He didn’t blame God for his suffering, and he didn’t resent it. He recognized God’s right to judge and to discipline; he also recognized his own responsibility in provoking God’s anger.
Think About It: Compare David’s response to conviction of sin in 2 Samuel 24:10 with Adam’s response to conviction of sin in Genesis 3:10 – 11. Who does Adam try to blame for his sin? Who does David blame for his sin? When I feel convicted of sin, do I tend to be more like Adam, or like David?
Prayer: Lord, I confess that my sin is my fault, my own grievous fault, and there is no health in me.
Read: Psalm 30:5; Psalm 103:9; Isaiah 54:7 – 8; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Hebrews 12:5 – 6
Psalm 30 helps us to face painful difficulties, because it puts suffering into perspective. Even that suffering which is the result of God’s discipline is “but for a moment; His favor is for a lifetime.” Even when we suffer as a result of our own sin, the suffering doesn’t mean God does not love us. On the contrary, suffering as a result of discipline is proof of God’s love for us (Hebrews 12:5 – 6). All suffering, whatever its origin, is after all only “momentary, light affliction,” the outcome of which is “eternal glory.”
Think About It: For an example of Paul’s experiences of “momentary, light affliction” see 2 Corinthians 11:23 – 29. When I am suffering, what do I magnify in my thoughts: my pain, or God’s love and mercy? In the King James Bible, there are 453 references containing the phrase “It came to pass.” There are no references that say “It came to stay.”
Prayer: Lord, please help me to magnify your love and mercy in my thoughts.
Read: Psalm 30
Psalm 30 is above all a psalm of thanksgiving. In the psalm, David thanks God for healing (v.2); for restoring him to life (v. 3); for turning his mourning into dancing and clothing him with gladness (v. 11). David extols the Lord (v. 1); encourages His saints to praise the Lord and give thanks to His holy name (v. 4); and vows to sing God’s praise and give Him thanks forever (v. 12).
Think About It: Have I ever experienced God’s healing? Has God ever granted me new life
(2 Corinthians 5:17)? Has God ever turned my mourning into dancing? Do I sing and give praise to the Lord for the wonderful things He has done for me?
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that joy comes in the morning.