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Psalm 30

Thanksgiving for Recovery from Grave Illness

A Psalm. A Song at the dedication of the temple. Of David.


I will extol you, O L ord, for you have drawn me up,

and did not let my foes rejoice over me.


O L ord my God, I cried to you for help,

and you have healed me.


O L ord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,

restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.



Sing praises to the L ord, O you his faithful ones,

and give thanks to his holy name.


For his anger is but for a moment;

his favor is for a lifetime.

Weeping may linger for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.



As for me, I said in my prosperity,

“I shall never be moved.”


By your favor, O L ord,

you had established me as a strong mountain;

you hid your face;

I was dismayed.



To you, O L ord, I cried,

and to the L ord I made supplication:


“What profit is there in my death,

if I go down to the Pit?

Will the dust praise you?

Will it tell of your faithfulness?


Hear, O L ord, and be gracious to me!

O L ord, be my helper!”



You have turned my mourning into dancing;

you have taken off my sackcloth

and clothed me with joy,


so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.

O L ord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

1. I will extol thee, O Jehovah! As David had been brought, as it were, from the grave to the life-giving air, he promises to extol the name of God. It is God who lifts us up with his own hand when we have been plunged into a profound gulf; and therefore it is our duty, on our part, to sing his praises with our tongues. By the foes who, he says, obtained no matter of rejoicing over him, we may understand both domestic and foreign enemies. Although wicked and evil disposed persons flattered him with servile adulation, they at the same time cherished secret hatred against him, and were ready to insult him as soon as an opportunity should occur. In the second verse, he concludes that he was preserved by the favor of God, alleging in proof of this, that when he was at the very point of death he directed his supplications to God alone, and that he immediately felt that he had not done so in vain. When God hears our prayers, it is a proof which enables us to conclude with certainty that he is the author of our salvation, and of the deliverance which we obtain. As the Hebrew word רפא, rapha, signifies to heal, interpreters have been led, from this consideration, to restrict it to sickness. But as it is certain, that it sometimes signifies to restore, or to set up again, and is moreover applied to an altar or a house when they are said to be repaired or rebuilt, it may properly enough mean here any deliverance. The life of man is in danger in many other ways than merely from disease; and we know that it is a form of speech which occurs every where in the Psalms, to say that David was restored to life whenever the Lord delivered him from any grievous and extreme danger. For the sake of amplification, accordingly, he immediately adds, Thou hast brought up my soul from the grave He reckoned that he could not sufficiently express in words the magnitude of the favor which God had conferred upon him, unless he compared the darkness of that period to a grave and pit, into which he had been forced to throw himself hastily, to protect his life by hiding, until the flame of insurrection was quenched. As one restored to life, therefore, he proclaims that he had been marvellously delivered from present death, as if he had been restored to life after he had been dead. And assuredly, it appears from sacred history, how completely he was overwhelmed with despair on every side.

Psalm 30:4-5

4. Sing unto Jehovah, O ye who are his meek ones! and acknowledge the memorial of his holiness. 624624     “Ou chantez afin qu’il soit memoire.” — Fr. marg. “Or sing, that he may be remembered.” 5. For his anger is only for a moment 625625     Literally, “There is but a moment in his anger;” and this is also the literal rendering of the Hebrew. but life 626626     “C’est, un long temps.” — Note, Fr. marg. “That is, a long time.” is in his favor; weeping will lodge in the evening, and rejoicing shall come in the morning.


4. Sing unto Jehovah. The better to testify his gratitude, David calls upon all the saints to join with him in singing the praises of God; and under one class he describes the whole body. As he had been preserved beyond all expectation, and by this instance had been instructed concerning God’s continual and infinite goodness towards all the godly, he breaks forth into this exhortation, in which he includes the general deliverance of the whole church as well as his own. He rehearses not only what God had been to himself, but also how bountifully and promptly he is accustomed to assist his people. In short, confirmed by one particular instance he turns his thoughts to the general truth. The meaning of the Hebrew term חסידים, chasidim, which we have translated meekness, by which David often describes the faithful, has been already shown in the sixteenth Psalm. Their heavenly adoption ought to excite them to the exercise of beneficence, that they may imitate their Father’s disposition,

“who maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,” (Matthew 5:45.)

There is nothing in which men resemble God more truly than in doing good to others. The memorial of his holiness, in the second clause of the verse, may refer to the tabernacle; as if David had exhorted all the children of God to go before the ark of the covenant, which was the memorial of God’s presence. The Hebrew letter 627627     לזכר, lezeker, at the memorial. ל, lamed, often denotes a place. I readily subscribe, however, to their opinion, who think that memorial signifies the same thing as name; for God has assuredly rendered himself worthy of remembrance by his works, which are a bright representation of his glory, the sight of which should stir us up to praise him.

5. For his anger is only for a moment. It is beyond all controversy that life is opposed here to for a moment, and consequently signifies long continuance, or the constant progress of time from day to day. David thus intimates that if God at any time chastise his people, he not only mitigates the rigour of their punishment, but is immediately appeased, and moderates his anger; whereas he prolongs his kindness and favor for a long time. And, as I have already observed, he chose rather to couch his discourse in general terms, than to speak particularly of himself, that the godly might all perceive that this continued manifestation of God’s favor belongs to them. We are hereby taught, however, with how much meekness of spirit, and with what prompt obedience he submitted his back to God’s rod. We know that from the very first bloom of youth, during almost his whole life, he was so tried by a multiplied accumulation of afflictions, that he might have been accounted miserable and wretched above all other men; yet in celebrating the goodness of God, he acknowledges that he had been lightly afflicted only for a short period, and as it were in passing. Now, what inspired him with so great meekness and equanimity of mind was, that he put a greater value upon God’s benefits, and submitted himself more quietly to the endurance of the cross, than the world is accustomed to do. If we are prosperous, we devour God’s blessings without feeling that they are his, or, at least, we indolently allow them to slip away; but if any thing sorrowful or adverse befall us, we immediately complain of his severity, as if he had never dealt kindly and mercifully with us. In short, our own fretfulness and impatience under affliction makes every minute an age; while, on the other hand, our repining and ingratitude lead us to imagine that God’s favor, however long it may be exercised towards us, is but for a moment. It is our own perversity, therefore, in reality, which hinders us from perceiving that God’s anger is but of short duration, While his favor is continued towards us during the whole course of our life. Nor does God in vain so often declare that he is merciful and gracious to a thousand generations, long-suffering, slow to anger, and ready to forgive. And as what he says by the prophet Isaiah has a special reference to the kingdom of Christ, it must be daily fulfilled,

“For a small moment have I afflicted thee, but with everlasting mercies will I gather thee,” (Isaiah 54:7.)

Our condition in this world, I confess, involves us in such wretchedness, and we are harassed by such a variety of afflictions, that scarcely a day passes without some trouble or grief. Moreover, amid so many uncertain events, we cannot be otherwise than full of daily anxiety and fear. Whithersoever, therefore, men turn themselves, a labyrinth of evils surrounds them. But however much God may terrify and humble his faithful servants, with manifold signs of his displeasure, he always be-sprinkles them with the sweetness of his favor to moderate and assuage their grief. If they weigh, therefore his anger and his favor in an equal balance, they will always find it verified, that while the former is but for a moment, the latter continues to the end of life; nay, it goes beyond it, for it were a grievous mistake to confine the favor of God within the boundaries of this transitory life. And it is unquestionably certain, 628628     “Et de faict, c’est un poinct tout resolu.” — Fr. that none but those whose minds have been raised above the world by a taste of heavenly life really experience this perpetual and uninterrupted manifestation of the divine favor, which enables them to bear their chastisements with cheerfulness. Paul, accordingly, that he may inspire us with invincible patience, refers to this in 2 Corinthians 4:17,

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.”

In the meantime, it is to be observed that God never inflicts such heavy and continued chastisements on his people, without frequently mitigating them, and sweetening their bitterness with some consolation. Whoever, therefore, directs his mind to meditation upon the heavenly life, will never faint under his afflictions, however long continued; and, comparing them with the exceeding great and manifold favors of God towards him, he will put such honor on the latter as to judge that God’s goodness, in his estimation, outweighs his displeasure a hundred-fold. In the second clause, David repeats the same thing figuratively: Weeping will lodge in the evening, and rejoicing shall come in the morning He does not simply mean, that the affliction would be only for one night, but that if the darkness of adversity should fall upon the people of God, as it were, in the evening, or at the setting of the sun, light would soon after arise upon them, to comfort their sorrow-stricken spirits. The amount of David’s instruction is, that were we not too headstrong, we would acknowledge that the Lord, even when he appears to overwhelm us for a time with the darkness of affliction, always seasonably ministers matter of joy, just as the morning arises after the night.

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