Day 14: Thursday, 21 March
Psalm 30: 6-end
6 When I felt secure, I said,
‘I shall never be shaken.’
7 Lord, when you favoured me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
8 To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
9 ‘What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.’
11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you for ever.
The writer reflects on how God’s favour can be lost (or at least that God’s favour is his alone to bestow) when we fall away from God. Perhaps he has some past sin in mind as he writes. He appears to be suggesting that God has moved away from this servant, but that is the outcome of this servant’s first turning away from God. While my act of turning away from God will cause sorrow in heavenly places, or my disobedience cause anger to smoulder, when it is God himself who hides his face from me, I will find myself in a far worse place. This realisation is echoed in Jesus’ parable where the son comes at last to his senses and decides to go back to his father: how much better is life as a hired servant in my father’s house than where I am at the moment!
In verse 9 the writer tries to pitch an argument to God as to why He should save him from death. He suggests to God that if He were to consign him to death (the pit) then he wouldn’t be much use to God down there! He is, however, wise enough not to rely on that as a deal-breaker, and pleads for God’s mercy.
The final two verses bring back the positivity of the psalm’s opening. The natural outflow of knowing God’s love and favour is praise, continuous and lasting praise.
How much of this psalm matches your experience of God?
Which would you prefer – a sense of God’s smouldering displeasure, or nothing at all?
Father God, lift me from the depths when I am in despair, but also topple my perch when I think I am successful in myself. Turn my sorrow into dancing that I may praise you as long as I live. Amen.
He Lifted me up from the deep miry clay. He planted my feet on the King’s Highway. And this is the reason why I sing and I shout, My Jesus came down, down, down and lifted me up.
A more upbeat rendition.
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.