Day 13: Wednesday, 20 March
Psalm 30: 1-5
A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.
1 I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favour lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
While the psalmist exhorts us to sing praise to God, the overwhelming theme is thanksgiving. The opening verses are a deep personal statement from David concerning God’s protection and preservation of him in what appears to be serious life-threatening illness. To this David also adds his thanks that his enemies do not get to gloat over him, thus preserving, too, his status and by extension, that of Israel, among the nations.
Verse 5 is worthy of committing to heart for rapid retrieval when the need arises. God is totally unbalanced in his treatment of us. He is righteous; He is just; He is holy; but above all of these he places his love. He is righteousness crowned with love, justice infused with love, holiness swarming with love. When we incur his anger, it is both slow in coming and quick to dissipate. We do not have to spend days in sackcloth and ashes to prove our repentance because repentance is the key that releases God’s forgiveness.
Has anyone ever said to you, “It’s not fair – you have God on your side”? If not, then perhaps you need to seek his favour, or even wonder why you’re a Christian! God’s favour is ours as a gift of our sonship. It may be one of the least invoked gifts of God. God wants us to prosper in all sorts of ways, beyond the ability of our own intellect or skill of themselves, God-given though they may be, to bring about success. On the see-saw of life, God will upset the balance in my favour. This could result, for instance, in improved relationships, better life chances, superior outcomes, even longer life (and the small matter of eternity at the end of it). In human terms this is not equal, but Christians do not live the life the world lives. God favoured his people Israel in many ways. It can be argued that God’s favour is still working its way through generations of Jews in business, finance, entertainment and other areas.
The second half of verse 5 can be read two ways – in one sense it sounds like a whole new truth about sorrow and joy in aspects of life, and we know that human life gives us plenty of sorrow. We might feel a little aggrieved when the psalmist suggests that sorrow is short-lived, because that isn’t necessarily the case. Sadness can last for a long time. It can also last in a healthy way (recalling the love a deceased parent lavished on you) or an unhealthy way (failing to be reconciled to the death of a loved one). There is little comfort in being told how you should feel. After all, many of the Psalms are expressions and outbursts of the writer’s feelings!
A very common pattern found in Psalms is what I might call, saying the same thing again, but using different words. Expressing the same thought or truth in two different ways can help to broaden its meaning and allow us to latch on to it more securely. If we see the two halves of verse 5 as complimentary views of the same truth then the meaning of the second half is all about the short-lived sorrow we feel when God is angry with us, which lasts but a night, and the continuing joy of God’s favour discovered in the new day.
Have you ever been in a situation like that described in the opening verses? Where did God feature in it?
Do you still feel there are dark clouds of God’s anger or displeasure overhead?
In what aspects of your life do you need to experience God’s favour?
Father God, you are with me in the brightest times, when I should praise you the most, and in the darkest times, when I need you most. Let me know your continuing presence in my life – your protection, your healing, your favour. Amen
Sackcloth and ashes.
Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version (Anglicised Edition) Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, a Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. "NIV" is a registered trademark of Biblica – UK trademark number 1448790.