The Treasury of David, by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, [1869-85], at sacred-texts.com
Title - A Psalm and Song at the Dedication of the House of David; or rather, A Psalm; a Song of Dedication for the House. By David. A song of faith since the house of Jehovah, here intended, David never lived to see. A Psalm of praise, since a sore judgment had been stayed, and a great sin forgiven. From our English version it would appear that this Psalm was intended to be sung at the building of that house of cedar which David erected for himself, when he no longer had to hide himself in the Cave of Adullam, but had become a great king. If this had been the meaning, it would have been well to observe that it is right for the believer when removing, to dedicate his new abode to God. We should call together our Christian friends, and show that where we dwell, God dwells, and where we have a tent, God has an altar. But as the song refers to the temple, for which it was David's joy to lay by in store, and for the site of which he purchased in his later days the floor of Ornan, we must content ourselves with remarking the holy faith which foresaw the fulfilment of the promise made to him concerning Solomon. Faith can sing -
"Glory to thee for all the grace
I have not tasted yet."
Throughout this Psalm there are indications that David had been greatly afflicted both personally and relatively, after having, in his presumption, fancied himself secure. When God's children prosper one way, they are generally tried another, for few of us can bear unmingled prosperity. Even the joys of hope need to be mixed with the pains of experience, and the more surely so when comfort breeds carnal security and self-confidence. Nevertheless, pardon soon followed repentance, and God's mercy was glorified. The Psalm is a song, and not a complaint. Let it be read in the light of the last days of David, when he had numbered the people, and God had chastened him, and then in mercy had bidden the angel sheathe his sword. On the floor of Ornan, the poet received the inspiration which glows in this delightful ode. It is the Psalm of the numbering of the people, and of the dedication temple which commemorated the staying of the plague.
Division - In Psa 30:1, Psa 30:2, and Psa 30:3, David extols the Lord for delivering him. Psa 30:4 and Psa 30:5 he invites the saints to unite with him in celebrating divine compassion. In Psa 30:6 and Psa 30:7 he confesses the fault for which he was chastened, Psa 30:8 repeals the supplication which he offered, and concludes with commemorating his deliverance and vowing eternal praise.
Hints to Preachers
Title - House dedication, and how to arrange it.
Whole Psalm - In this ode we may see the workings of David's mind before, and under, and after, the affliction.
I. Before the affliction: Psa 30:6.
II. Under the affliction: Psa 30:7.
III. After the affliction: Psa 30:11, Psa 30:12.
- William Jay.
Psa 30:1 (first clause) - God and his people exalting each other.
Psa 30:1 (second clause) - The happiness of being preserved so as not to be the scorn of our enemies.
Psa 30:1 - The disappointments of the devil.
Psa 30:2 - The sick man, the physician, the night-bell, the medicine, and the cure; or, a covenant God a sick saint a crying heart a healing hand.
Psa 30:3 - Upbringing and preservation, two choice mercies; made the more illustrious by two terrible evils, "grave," and "pit "; traced immediately to the Lord, "thou hast."
Verse 4 - Song, a sacred service; "saints" especially called to it; divine holiness, a choice subject for it; Memory, an admirable aid in it.
Psa 30:5 - The anger of God in relation to his people.
Psa 30:5 - The night of weeping, and the morning of joy.
Psa 30:5 - "Life" in God's "favour."
Psa 30:5 - The transient nature of the believer's trouble, and the permanence of his joy.
Psa 30:6 - The peculiar dangers of "prosperity."
Psa 30:6-12 - David's prosperity had lulled him into a state of undue security: God sent him this affliction to rouse him from it. The successive frames of mind are here clearly marked; and must successively be considered as they are here presented to our view.
I. His carnal security.
II. His spiritual dereliction.
III. His fervent prayers.
IV. His speedy recovery.
V. His grateful acknowledgments.
- Charles Simeon.
Psa 30:7 (first clause) - Carnal security; its causes, dangers, and cures.
Psa 30:7 (last clause) - The gracious bemoanings of a soul in spiritual darkness.
Psa 30:8 - In connection with Psa 30:3, prayer the universal remedy.
Psa 30:9 (first clause) - Arguments with God for continued life and renewed favour.
Psa 30:9 (last clause) - The resurrection, a time in which the "dust" shall "praise" God, and "declare" his "truth."
Psa 30:10 - Two gems of prayer; short, but full and needful.
Psa 30:10 - "Lord, be thou my helper." I see many fall; I shall fall too except thou hold me up. I am weak; I am exposed to temptation. My heart is deceitful. My enemies are strong. I cannot trust in man; I dare not trust in myself. The grace I have received will not keep me without thee. "Lord, be thou my helper." In every duty; in every conflict; in every trial; in every effort to promote the Lord's cause; in every season of prosperity; in every hour we live, this short and inspired prayer is suitable. May it flow from our hearts, be often on our lips, and be answered in our experience. For if the Lord help us, there is no duty which we cannot perform; there is no foe which we cannot overcome; there is no difficulty which we cannot surmount - James Smith's Daily Remembrancer.
Psa 30:11 - Transformations. Sudden; complete; divine, "thou." personal, "for me;" gracious.
Psa 30:11 - Holy dancing open up the metaphor.
Psa 30:11 - The believer's change of raiment illustrate by life of Mordecai or Joseph; mention all the garbs the believer is made to wear, as a mourner, a beggar, a criminal, etc.
Psa 30:12 - Our "glory," and its relation to God's glory.
Psa 30:12 - The end of gracious dispensations.
Psa 30:12 - Silence - when sinful.
Psa 30:12 (last clause) - The believer's vow, and the time for making it. See the whole Psalm.
Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
"A Psalm and Song," etc. It is thought that when these two words of Psalm and Song are both put in the title of a Psalm, it is meant that the sound of instruments was to be joined with the voice when they were sung in the Temple, and that the voice went before when it is said Song and Psalm, and did come after when it is said Psalm and Song. - John Diodati.
At the dedication of it חגבּת חבית. The original word חגך signifies initiari, ἐγκαινίζειν rei novae primam usurpationera. So Cocceius, to initiate, or the first use that is made of anything. It was common, when any person had finished a house and entered into it, to celebrate it with great rejoicing, and keep a festival, to which his friends were invited, and to perform some religious ceremonies, to secure the protection of heaven. Thus, when the second temple was finished, the Priests and Levites, and the rest of the captivity, kept the dedication of the house of God with joy, and offered numerous sacrifices. Ezr 6:16. We read in the New Testament (Joh 10:22), of the feast of the dedication appointed by Judas Maceabaeus, in memory of the purification and restoration of the temple of Jerusalem, after it had been defiled and almost laid in ruins by Antiochus Epiphanes; and celebrated annually, to the time of its destruction by Titus, by solemn sacrifices, music, songs, and hymns, to the praises of God, and feasts, and everything that could give the people pleasure, for eight days successively. Josephus Ant i xii. @a7 7. Judas ordained, that "the days of the dedication should be kept in their season, from year to year, with mirth and gladness." 1 Mac. 4:59. And that this was customary, even amongst private persons, to keep a kind of religious festival, upon their first entrance into a new house, appears from the order of God (Deu 20:5), that no person who had built a new house should be forced into the army, "if he had not dedicated the house," i.e., taken possession of it according to the usual ceremonies practised on such occasions; a custom this that hath more or less prevailed amongst all nations. Thus the Romans dedicated their temples, their theatres, their statues, and their palaces and houses. Suet. Octav c xliii. @a7 13; c xxxi. @a7 9. - Samuel Chandler.
The present Psalm is the only one that is called a shir, or song, in the first book of the Psalms, i.e., Psalms 1-41. The word שׁיד shir is found in the titles of Psalms 45, Psa 46:1-11, Psa 48:1-14, 65-68, Psa 75:1-10, 83, Psa 87:1-7, 88, Psa 92:1-15, Psa 108:1-13, 120-124. Psalm 18 is entitled, "a shirah (or song) of deliverance from his enemies," and the present shir may be coupled with it. - Christopher Wordsworth.
As by offering the first fruits to God they acknowledged that they received the increase of the whole year from him, in like manner, by consecrating their houses to God, they declared that they were God's tenants, confessing that they were strangers, and that it was he who lodged, and gave them a habitation there. If a levy for war, therefore, took place, this was a just cause of exemption, when any one alleged that he had not yet dedicated his house. Besides, they were at the same time admonished by this ceremony, that every one enjoyed his house aright and regularly, only when he so regulated it that it was as it were a sanctuary of God, and that true piety and the pure worship of God reigned in it. The types of the law have now ceased, but we must still keep to the doctrine of Paul, that whatsoever things God appoints for our use are still "sanctified by the word of God and prayer." Ti1 4:4, Ti1 4:5. - John Calvin.
Calmet supposes it to have been made by David on the dedication of the place which he built on the threshing-floor of Araunah, after the grievous plague which had so nearly desolated the kingdom. Sa2 24:25; Ch1 21:26. All the parts of the Psalm agree to this: and they agree to this so well, and to no other hypothesis, that I feel myself justified in modelling the comment on this principle alone. - Adam Clarke.
In the following verses I have endeavoured to give the spirit of the Psalm, and to preserve the frequent antitheses.
I will exalt thee, Lord of hosts,
For thou'st exalted me;
Since thou hast silenced Satan's boasts,
I'll therefore boast in thee.
My sins had brought me near the grave,
The grave of black despair;
I look'd but there was none to save,
Till I look'd up in prayer.
In answer to my piteous cries.
From hell's dark brink I'm brought:
My Jesus saw me from the skies,
And swift salvation wrought.
All through the night I wept full sore,
But morning brought relief;
That hand, which broke my bones before,
Then broke my bonds of grief.
My mourning he to dancing turns,
For sackcloth joy he gives,
A moment, Lord, thine anger burns,
But long thy favour lives.
Sing with me then, ye favoured men,
Who long have known his grace;
With thanks recall the seasons when
Ye also sought his face.
"I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up." I will lift thee up, for thou hast lifted me up. - Adam Clarke.
"Thou hast lifted me up." דלּיתגי. The verb is used, in its original meaning, to denote the reciprocating motion of the buckets of a well, one descending as the other rises, and vice versa; and is here applied with admirable propriety, to point out the various reciprocations and changes of David's fortunes, as described in this Psalm, as to prosperity and adversity; and particularly that gracious reverse of his afflicted condition which he now celebrates, God having raised him up to great honour and prosperity; for having built his palace, he "perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel's sake." Sa2 5:12. - Samuel Chandler.
"Thou hast healed me." תדפּאגי. The verb is used, either for the healing of bodily disorders (Psa 103:3), or to denote the happy alteration of any person's affairs, either in private or public life, by the removal of any kind of distress, personal or national. Psa 107:20; Isa 19:22. So in the place before us: "Thou hast healed me," means, Thou hast brought me out of my distresses, hast restored my health, and rendered me safe and prosperous. Under Saul, he was frequently in the most imminent danger of his life, out of which God wonderfully brought him, which he strongly expresses by saying, "Thou hast brought up mg soul from Hades: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit." I thought myself lost, and that nothing could prevent my destruction, and can scarce help looking on the deliverance thou hast vouchsafed me otherwise than as a kind of restoration from the dead: Thou hast revived me, or recovered me to life, from amongst those who go down to the pit; according to the literal rendering of the latter clause. - Samuel Chandler.
"Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his." If it were to sing of another thing, I should require the whole quire of God's creatures to join in the singing; but now that it is to sing of God's "holiness," what should profane voices do in the concert? None but "saints" are fit to sing of "holiness," and specially of God's holiness; but most specially with songs of holiness. - Sir Richard Baker.
"Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his." As God requires outward and inward worship, so a spiritual frame for inward worship may be forwarded by the outward composure. Gazing drowsiness hinders the activity of the soul, but the contrary temper furthers and helps it. Singing calls up the soul into such a posture, and doth, as it were, awaken it: it is a lively rousing up of the heart. Singing God's praise is a work of the most meditation of any we perform in public. It keeps the heart longest upon the thing spoken. Prayer and hearing pass quick from one sentence to another; this sticks long upon it. Meditation must follow after hearing the word, and praying with the minister - for new sentences, still succeeding, give not liberty, in the instant, well to muse and consider upon what is spoken: but in this you pray and meditate. God hath so ordered this duty, that, while we are employed in it, we feed and chew the cud together. "Higgaion," or "Meditation," is set upon some passages of the Psalms, as Psa 9:16. The same may be writ up the whole duty, and all parts of it; namely, "Meditation." Set before you one in the posture to sing to the best advantage: eyes lifted to heaven, denote his desire that his heart may be there too; he hath before him a line or verse of prayer, mourning, praise, mention of God's works; how fairly now may his heart spread itself in meditation on the thing, while he is singing it over! Our singing is measured in deliberate time not more for music than meditation. He that seeks not, finds not, this advantage in singing Psalms - hath not yet learned what it means. - John Lightfoot, 1602-1675.
"His anger." Seeing God is often angry with his own servants, what cause have those of you who fear him, to bless him that he is not angry with you, and that you do not feel his displeasure! He sets up others as his mark against which he shoots his arrows; you hear others groaning for his departure, and yet your hearts are not saddened as theirs are; your eyes can look up towards heaven with hope, whilst theirs are clouded with a veil of sorrow; he speaks roughly to them, but comfortable words to you; he seems to set himself against them as his enemies, whilst he deals with you as a loving friend; you see a reviving smile in his face and they can discern nothing there but one continued and dreadful frown. O admire, and for ever wonder at the sovereign, distinguishing grace of God. Are you that are at ease better than many of his people that are now thrown into a fiery furnace? Have you less dross than they? Have they sinned, think you, at a higher rate than you have ever done? He is angry with them for their lukewarmness, for their backsliding; and have your hearts always burned with love? Have your feet always kept his way and not declined? Have you never wandered? Have you never turned aside to the right hand or to the left? Surely you have; and therefore, what a mercy is it, that he is not angry with you as well as with them.... Do not presume for all this; for though he is not angry yet with you, he may be so. This was the fault of David: "In my prosperity 1 said, I shall never be moved;" but it immediately follows, "Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled." The sun shines now upon you, the candle of the Lord does refresh your tabernacle; but you may meet with many storms, and clouds, and darkness before you come to your journey's end. The disciples were once greatly pleased with the glory of the transfiguration; and during the delightful interview between Christ, and Moses, and Elias, they thought themselves as in heaven; but a cloud came and obscured the preceding glory, and then the poor men were afraid. It is true the anger of God endureth but for a moment; but even that moment is very sad, and terrible beyond expression. Weeping endureth for "a night;" but it may be a very bitter and doleful night for all this. It is a night like that of the Egyptians: when they arose they saw all their first-born slain, and there was a hideous, universal cry and mourning throughout all the land. So this night of the anger of the Lord may destroy all our comforts, and make the first-born of our strength, the confidence and pleasure of our hopes to give up the ghost. - Timothy Rogers.
"In his favour is life." - Let us see wherein the weight of the blessing and cursing of sheep and goats doth lie. It is not the gift of eternal life that is our happiness in heaven; but as David saith, "in his favour is life." If a damned soul should be admitted to the fruition of all the pleasures of eternal life without the favour of God, heaven would be hell to him. It is not the dark and horrid house of woe that maketh a soul miserable in hell, but God's displeasure, ite maledicti. If an elect soul should be cast thither, and retain the favour of God, hell would be an heaven to him, and his joy could not all the devils of hell take from him; his night would be turned into day. - Edward Marbury.
As an apprentice holds out in hard labour and (it may be) bad usage for seven years together or more, and in all that time is serviceable to his master without any murmuring or repining, because he sees that the time wears away, and that his bondage will not last always, but he shall be set at large and made a freeman in the conclusion: thus should everyone that groaneth under the burden of any cross or affliction whatsoever, bridle his affections, possess his soul in patience, and cease from all murmuring and repining whatsoever, considering well with himself, that the rod of the wicked shall not always rest upon the lot of the righteous; that weeping may abide at evening, but joy cometh in the morning; and that troubles will have an end, and not continue for ever. - John Spencer.
How often have we experienced the literal truth of that verse, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning!" How heavily does any trouble weigh on us at night! Our wearied nerve and brain seem unable to bear up under the pressure. Our pulse throbs, and the fevered restless body refuses to help in the work of endurance. Miserable and helpless we feel; and passionately weep under the force of the unresisted attack. At last sleep comes. Trouble, temptation, whatever it be that strives to overcome us, takes the one step too far which overleaps its mark, and by sheer force drives our poor humanity beyond the present reach of further trial. After such a night of struggle, and the heavy sleep of exhaustion, we awake with a vague sense of trouble. Our thoughts gather, and we wonder over our own violence, as the memory of it returns upon us. What was it that seemed so hopeless - so dark? Why were we so helpless and despairing? Things do not look so now - sad indeed still, but endurable - hard, but no longer impossible - bad enough perhaps, but we despair no more. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." And so, when life with its struggles and toils and sins, bringing us perpetual conflict, ends at last in the fierce struggle of death, then God "giveth his beloved sleep." They sleep in Jesus, and awake to the joy of a morning which shall know no wane - the morning of joy. The Sun of Righteousness is beaming on them. Light is now on all their ways. And they can only wonder when they recall the despair and darkness and toil, and violence of their earthly life, and say, as they have often said on earth, "Weeping has endured only for the night, and now it is morning, and joy has come!" And our sorrows, our doubts, our difficulties, our long looks forward, with despair of enduring strength for so long a night of trial - Where are they? Shall we not feel as is so beautifully described in the words of one of our hymns -
"When in our Father's happy land
We meet our own once more,
Then we shall scarcely understand
Why we have wept before."
Mary B. M. Duncan, 1825-1865.
"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Their mourning shall last but till morning. God will turn their winter's night into a summer's day, their sighing into singing, their grief into gladness, their mourning into music, their bitter into sweet, their wilderness into a paradise. The life of a Christian is filled up with interchanges of sickness and health, weakness and strength, want and wealth, disgrace and honour, crosses, and comforts, miseries and mercies, joys and sorrows, mirth and mourning; all honey would harm us, all wormwood would undo us; a composition of both is the best way in the world to keep our souls in a healthy constitution. It is best and most for the health of the soul that the south wind of mercy, and the north wind of adversity, do both blow upon it; and though every wind that blows shall blow good to the saints, yet certainly their sins die most, and their graces thrive best, when they are under the drying, nipping north wind of calamity, as well as under the warm, cherishing south wind of mercy and prosperity. - Thomas Brooks.
"Joy cometh in the morning." The godly man's joy "cometh in the morning," when the wicked man's goeth; for to him "the morning is even as the shadow of death." Job 24:17. He is not only afraid of reproof and punishment, but he grieves and suffers sufficiently, though nobody should know of his actions, for the impair and loss, and misspence of his strength and his time and his money. - Zachary Bogan.
In the second half of the verse, "weeping" is personified, and represented by the figure of a wanderer, who leaves in the morning the lodging, into which he had entered the preceding evening. After him another guest arrives, namely, "joy." - E. W. Hengstenberg.
The princely prophet says plainly, "heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." As the two angels that came to Lot lodged with him for a night, and when they had despatched their errand, went away in the morning; so afflictions, which are the angels or the messengers of God. God sendeth afflictions to do an errand unto us; to tell us we forget God, we forget ourselves, we are too proud, too self-conceited, and such like; and when they have said as they were bid, then presently they are gone. - Thomas Playfere.
When a man's heart is set upon the creatures, there being thorns in them all, therefore if he will grasp too much of them, or too hard, he shall find it. God's children are trained up so to it, that God will not let them go away with a sin; if they be too adulterously affected, they shall find a cross in such a thing. You may observe this in the Psa 30:1-12; there you may see the circle God goes in with his children. David has many afflictions, as appeareth by the Psa 30:5 : I cried, and then God returned to me, and joy came. What did David then? "I said, I shall never be moved:" his heart grew wanton, but God would not let him go away so: "God turned away his face, and I was troubled." At the Psa 30:7he is, you see, in trouble again: well, David cries again, at,the Psa 30:8 and Psa 30:10, and then God turned his mourning into joy again. And this to be his dealing you shall find in all the Scriptures; but because we find this his dealing set so close together in this Psalm, therefore I name it. - John Preston, D.D. (1587-1628), in "The Golden Scepter held forth to the Humble."
"In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved." Our entering upon a special service for God, or receiving a special favour from God, are two solemn seasons which Satan makes use of for temptation.... We are apt to get proud, careless, and confident, after or upon such employments and favours; even as men are apt to sleep or surfeit upon a full meal, or to forget themselves when they are advanced to honour. Job's great peace and plenty made him, as he confesseth, so confident, that he concluded he should "die in his nest." Job 29:18. David enjoying the favour of God in a more than ordinary measure, though he was more acquainted with vicissitudes and changes than most of men, grows secure in his apprehension that he "Should never be moved;" but he acknowledgeth his mistake, and leaves it upon record as an experience necessary for others to take warning by, that when he became warm under the beams of God's countenance, then he was apt to fall into security; and this it seems was usual with him in all such cases - when he was most secure he was nearest some trouble or disquiet. "Thou didst hide thy face" - and then to be sure the devil will show him his - "and I was troubled." Enjoyments beget confidence; confidence brings forth carelessness; carelessness makes God withdraw, and gives opportunity to Satan to work unseen. And thus, as armies after victory growing secure, are oft surprised; so are we oft after our spiritual advancements thrown down. - Richard Gilpin.
"In my prosperity." בּשׁלוי The word denotes peace and tranquility, arising from an affluent, prosperous condition. When God had settled him quietly on the throne, he thought all his troubles were over, and that he should enjoy uninterrupted happiness; and that God "had made his mountain so strong, as that it should never be moved;" i.e., placed him as secure from all danger as though he had taken refuge upon an inaccessible mountain; or made his prosperity firm, and subject to no more alteration, than a mountain is liable to be removed out of its place; or, raised him to an eminent degree of honour and prosperity; a mountain, by its height, being a very natural representation of a very superior condition, remarkable for power, affluence, and dignity. He had taken the fortress of Mount Sion, which was properly his mountain, as he had fixed on it for his dwelling. It was strong by nature, and rendered almost impregnable by the fortifications he had added to it. This he regarded as the effect of God's favour to him, and promised himself that his peace and happiness for the future should be as undisturbed and unshaken as Mount Sion itself. - Samuel Chandler.
"In my prosperity." Prosperity is more pleasant than profitable to us. Though in show it look like a fair summer, yet it is indeed a wasting winter, and spendeth all the fruit we have reaped in the harvest of sanctified affliction. We are never in greater danger than in the sunshine of prosperity. To be always indulged of God, and never to taste of trouble, is rather a token of God's neglect than of his tender love. - William Struther.
It is rare to receive much of this world, and not as the prodigal to go afar off; 'tis hard to keep close to God in prosperity, when we have much of this world to live upon and content ourselves with; to live upon God, and make him our content and stay, as if we had no other life nor livelihood but in him; we are very apt in such a case to contract a carnal frame, let go our hold of God, discustom ourselves to the exercise of faith, abate and estrange our affections from God. See how it was with David: "I said, I shall never be moved, thou hast made my mountain so strong." I solaced myself on these outward accommodations, as if I needed no other support, strength, or content, and there were no fear of a change; no care now to make God my constant joy and stay, and reckon upon God only for my portion, and that I must follow him with a cross, and be conformed to my Saviour, in being crucified to the world. What comes of this? "Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled;" namely, because he had too much indulged a life of sense. Children that are held up by their nurses' hand, and mind not to feel their feet and ground when the nurses let them go, they fall, as if they had no feet or ground to stand upon. Or thus: we are like children, who, playing in the golden sunshine, and following their sport, stray so far from their father's house, that night coming upon them ere they are aware, they are as it were lost, and full of fears, not knowing how to recover home. The world steals away our hearts from God, gives so few opportunities for the exercise of the life of faith, and such advantages to a life of sense, wears off the sense of our dependence on God, and need thereof, so that when we are put to it by affliction, we are ready to miscarry ere we can recover our weapon or hold. Faith is our cordial (Psa 27:13); now if it be not at hand (as in health, when we have no need of it, it use to be) we may faint ere we recover the use of it. - Elias Pledger's Sermon in "The Morning Exercises," 1677.
"Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled." What soul can be deserted and not be afflicted? Certainly his absence cannot but be lamented with greatest grief, whose presence the soul prizeth above all earthly joy; when the evidence of salvation is obscured, the light of God's countenance darkened, the comforts of the Spirit detained, then the heavens appear not so clear, the promises taste not so sweet, the ordinances prove not so lively, yea, the clouds which hang over the soul gather blackness, doubts arise, fears overflow, terrors increase, troubles enlarge, and the soul becomes languishingly afflicted, even with all variety of disquietments. - Robert Mossom.
"Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled." A believer puts on the sackcloth of contrition, for having put off the garment of perfection. As the sugar-loaf is dissolved, and weeps itself way, when dipped in wine; so do our hearts melt under a sense of divine love. - William Secker.
Psa 30:7 (last clause)
No verse can more plainly teach us that glorious and comforting truth on which the mediaeval writers especially love to dwell, that it is the looking, or not looking, of God upon his creature, that forms the happiness or the misery of that creature; that those secret springs of joy which sometimes seem to rise up of themselves, and with which a stranger intermeddleth not, are nothing but God's direct and immediate looking on us; while the sorrow for which we cannot assign any especial cause - call it melancholy, or low spirits, or by whatever other name - is nothing but his turning away his face from us. - John Mason Neale.
Psa 30:7 (last clause)
Is spiritual desertion and the hiding of God's face matter of affliction, and casting down to believers? Yes, yes; it quails their hearts, nothing can comfort them. "Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled." Outward afflictions do but break the skin, this touches the quick; they like rain fall only upon the tiles, this soaks into the house; but Christ brings to believers substantial matter of consolation against the troubles of desertion: he himself was deserted of God for a time, that they might not be deserted for ever. - John Flavel.
Psa 30:7 (last clause)
If God be thy portion, then there is no loss in all the world that lies so hard and so heavy upon thee as the loss of thy God. There is no loss under heaven that doth so affect and afflict a man that hath God for his portion, as the loss of his God. David met with many a loss, but no loss made so sad and so great a breach upon his spirit as the loss of the face of God, the loss of the favour of God: "In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled." The Hebrew word בּחל bahal signifies to be greatly troubled, to be sorely terrified, as you may see in that Sa1 28:21, "And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled." Here is the same Hebrew word bahal. Saul was so terrified, affrighted, and disanimated with the dreadful news that the devil in Samuel's likeness told him, that his very vital spirits so failed him, that he fell into a deadly swoon. And it was even so with David upon God's hiding of his fade. David was like a withered flower that had lost all its sap, life, and rigour, when God had wrapped himself up in a cloud. The life of some creatures lieth in the light and warmth of the sun; and so doth the life of the saints lie in the light and warmth of God's countenance. And, as in an eclipse of the sun, there is a drooping in the whole frame of nature, so when God hides his face, gracious souls cannot but droop and languish, and bow down themselves before him. Many insensible creatures, some by opening and shutting, as marigolds and tulips, others by bowing and inclining the head, as the solsequy and mallow-flowers, are so sensible of the presence and absence of the sun, that there seems to be such a sympathy between the sun and them, that if the sun be gone or clouded, they wrap up themselves or hang down their heads, as being unwilling to be seen by any eye but his that fills them: and just thus it was with David when God had hid his face in a cloud. - Thomas Brooks.
"I cried to thee, O Lord; and unto the Lord I made supplication." Bernard, under a fiction, proposeth a fable well worthy our beholding: therein the kings of Babylon and Jerusalem, signifying the state of the world and the church, always warring together; in which encounter, at length it fell out, that one of the soldiers of Jerusalem was fled to the castle of Justice. Siege laid to the castle, and a multitude of enemies entrenched round about it, Fear gave over all hope, but Prudence ministered her comfort. "Dost thou not know," saith she, "that our king is the King of glory; the Lord strong and mighty, even the Lord mighty in battle? Let us therefore despatch a messenger that may inform him of our necessities." Fear replieth, "But who is able to break through? Darkness is upon the face of the earth, and our walls are begirt with a watchful troop of armed men, and we, utterly inexpert of the way into so far a country." Whereupon Justice is consulted. "Be of good cheer," saith Justice, "I have a messenger of especial trust, well known to the king and his court, Prayer by name, who knoweth to address herself by ways unknown in the stillest silence of the night, till she cometh to the secrets and chamber of the King himself." Forthwith she goeth, and findeth the gates shut, knocketh amain, "Open, ye gates of righteousness, and be ye opened, ye everlasting doors, that I may come in and tell the King of Jerusalem how our case standeth." Doubtless the trustiest and effectuallest messenger we have to send is Prayer. If we send up merits, the stars in heaven will disdain it, that we which dwell at the footstool of God dare to presume so far, when the purest creatures in heaven are impure in his sight. If we send up fear and distrustfulness, the length of the way will tire them out. They are as heavy and lumpish as gads of iron; they will sink to the ground before they come halfway to the throne of salvation. If we send up blasphemies and curses, all the creatures betwixt heaven and earth will band themselves against us. The sun and the moon will rain down blood; the fire, hot burning coals; the air, thunderbolts upon our heads. Prayer, I say again, is the surest ambassador; which neither the tediousness of the way, nor difficulties of the passage, can hinder from her purpose; quick of speed, faithful for trustiness, happy for success, able to mount above the eagles of the sky, into the heaven of heavens, and as a chariot of fire bearing us aloft into the presence of God to seek his assistance. - John King.
"What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit?" Implying that he would willingly die, if he could thereby do any real service to God, or his country. Phi 2:17. But he saw not what good could be done by his dying in the bed of sickness, as might be if he had died in the bed of honour. Lord, saith he, wilt thou sell one of "thine own people for nought, and not increase thy wealth by the price?" Psa 44:12. - Matthew Henry.
"What profit is there in my blood," etc. The little gain that the Lord would have by denying his people in the mercies they request, may also be used as a plea in prayer. David beggeth his own life of God, using this plea, "What profit is there in my blood?" So did the captive church plead (Psa 44:12); "Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price." So then, poor saints of God when they come and tell the Lord in their prayers that indeed he may condemn, or confound, or cut or cast them off; he may continue to frown upon them; he may deny such-and-such requests of theirs, for such-and-such just causes in them; but what will he gain thereby? He may gain many praises, etc., by hearing them, and helping them; but what good will it do him to see them oppressed by the enemies of their souls? or what delight would it be to him to see them sighing and sinking, and fainting under sad pressures, etc.? this is an allowed and a very successful kind of pleading. - Thomas Cobbel.
"Shall the dust praise thee?" Can any number be sufficient to praise thee? Can there ever be mouths enough to declare thy truth? And may not I make one - a sinful one I know - but yet one in the number, if thou be pleased to spare me from descending into the pit? - Sir Richard Baker.
Prayer that is likely to prevail with God must be argumentative. God loves to have us plead with him and overcome him with arguments in prayer. - Thomas Watson.
"Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness." This might be true of David, delivered from his calamity; it was true of Christ, arising from the tomb, to die no more; it is true of the penitent, exchanging his sackcloth for the garments of salvation; and it will be verified in us all, at the last day, when we shall put off the dishonours of the grave, to shine in glory everlasting. - George Horne.
"Thou hast turned." I do so like the ups and downs in the Psalms. - Adelaide Newton.
"Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness." I say with the apostle, "Overcome evil with good," sorrow with joy. Joy is the true remedy for sorrow. It never had, never could have any other. We must always give the soul that weeps reason to rejoice; all other consolation is utterly useless. - Alexander Rudolph Vinet, D.D., 1797-1847.
"Thou hast girded me with gladness." My "sackcloth" was but a loose garment about me, which might easily be put off at pleasure, but my "gladness" is girt about me, to be fast and sure, and cannot leave me though it would; at least none shall be able to take it from me. - Sir Richard Baker.
Even as the Chaldeans formerly measured their natural day differently from the Israelites; they put the day first and the night after; but the Israelites, on the contrary, according to the order that was observed in the creation; for in the beginning darkness was upon the face of the deep, and of every one of the six days it is said, "The evening and the morning were the first day," etc. So the times of the world and of the church are differently disposed; for the world begins hers by the day of temporal prosperity, and finishes it by a night of darkness and anguish that is eternal; but the church, on the contrary, begins hers by the night of adversity, which she suffers for awhile, and ends them by a day of consolation which she shall have for ever. The prophet in this Psalm begins with the anger of God, but ends with his favour: as of old, when they entered into the tabernacle they did at first see unpleasant things, as the knives of the sacrifices, the blood of victims, the fire that burned upon the altar, which consumed the offerings; but when they passed a little farther there was the holy place, the candlestick of gold, the shew-bread, and the altar of gold on which they offered perfumes; and in fine, there was the holy of holies, and the ark of the covenant, and the mercy-seat and the cherubims, which was called the face of God. - Timothy Rogers.
"I will give thanks." What is praise? The rent we owe to God; and the larger the farm the greater the rent should be. - G, S. Bowes, 1863.
1 I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.
2 O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.
3 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.
"I will extol thee." I will have high and honourable conceptions of thee, and give them utterance in my best music. Others may forget thee, murmur at thee, despise thee, blaspheme thee, but "I will extol thee," for I have been favoured above all others. I will extol thy name, thy character, thine attributes, thy mercy to me, thy great forbearance to my people; but, especially will I speak well of thyself; "I will extol thee," O Jehovah, this shall be my cheerful and constant employ. "For thou hast lifted me up." Here is an antithesis, "I will exalt thee, for thou hast exalted me." I would render according to the benefit received. The Psalmist's praise was reasonable. He had a reason to give for the praise that was in his heart. He had been drawn up like a prisoner from a dungeon, like Joseph out of the pit, and therefore he loved his deliverer. Grace has uplifted us from the pit of hell, from the ditch of sin, from the Slough of Despond, from the bed of sickness, from the bondage of doubts and fears: have we no song to offer for all this? How high has our Lord lifted us? Lifted us up into the children's place, to be adopted into the family; lifted us up into union with Christ, "to sit together with him in heavenly places." Lift high the name of our God, for he has lifted us above the stars. "And hast not made my foes to rejoice over me." This was the judgment which David most feared out of the three evils; he said, let me fall into the hand of the Lord, and not into the hand of man. Terrible indeed were our lot if we were delivered over to the will of our enemies. Blessed be the Lord, we have been preserved from so dire a fate. The devil and all our spiritual enemies have not been permitted to rejoice over us; for we have been saved from the fowler's snare. Our evil companions, who prophesied that we should go back to our old sins, are disappointed. Those who watched for our halting, and would fain say, "Aha! Aha! So would we have it!" have watched in vain until now. O happy they whom the Lord keeps so consistent in character that the lynx eyes of the world can see no real fault in them. Is this our case? let us ascribe all the glory to him who has sustained us in our integrity.
"O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me." David sent up prayers for himself and for his people when visited with the pestilence. He went at once to headquarters, and not roundabout to fallible means. God is the best physician, even for our bodily infirmities. We do very wickedly and foolishly when we forget God. It was a sin in Asa that he trusted to physicians and not to God. If we must have a physician, let it be so, but still let us go to our God first of all; and, above all, remember that there can be no power to heal in medicine of itself; the healing energy must flow from the divine hand. If our watch is out of order, we take it to the watchmaker; if body or soul be in an evil plight, let us resort to him who created them, and has unfailing skill to put them in right condition. As for our spiritual diseases, nothing can heal these evils but the touch of the Lord Christ if we do but touch the hem of his garment, we shall be made whole, while if we embrace all other physicians in our arms, they can do us no service. "O Lord my God." Observe the covenant name which faith uses - "my God." Thrice happy is he who can claim the Lord himself to be his portion. Note how David's faith ascends the scale; he sang "O Lord" in the first verse, but it is "O Lord my God," in the second. Heavenly heart-music is an ascending thing, like the pillars of smoke which rose from the altar of incense. "I cried unto thee." I could hardly pray, but I cried; I poured out my soul as a little child pours out its desires. I cried to my God: I knew to whom to cry; I did not cry to my friends, or to any arm of flesh. Hence the sure and satisfactory result - "Thou hast healed me." I know it. I am sure of it. I have the evidence of spiritual health within me now: glory be to thy name! Every humble suppliant with God who seeks release from the disease of sin, shall speed as well as the Psalmist did, but those who will not so much as seek a cure, need not wonder if their wounds putrefy and their soul dies.
"O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave." Mark, it is not, "I hope so;" but it is, "Thou hast; thou hast; thou hast" - three times over. David is quite sure, beyond a doubt, that God has done great things for him, whereof he is exceeding glad. He had descended to the brink of the sepulchre, and yet was restored to tell of the forbearance of God; nor was this all, he owned that nothing but grace had kept him from the lowest hell, and this made him doubly thankful. To be spared from the grave is much: to be delivered from the pit is more; hence there is growing cause for praise, since both deliverances are alone traceable to the glorious right hand of the Lord, who is the only preserver of life, and the only Redeemer of our souls from hell.
4 Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
"Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his." "Join my song; assist me to express my gratitude." He felt that he could not praise God enough himself, and therefore he would enlist the hearts of others. "Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his." David would not fill his choir with reprobates, but with sanctified persons, who could sing from their hearts. He calls to you, ye people of God, because ye are saints: and if sinners are wickedly silent, let your holiness constrain you to sing. You are his saints - chosen, blood-bought, called, and set apart for God sanctified on purpose that You should offer the daily sacrifice of praise. Abound ye in this heavenly duty. "Sing unto the Lord." It is a pleasing exercise; it is a profitable engagement. Do not need to be stirred up so often to so pleasant a service. "And give thanks." Let your songs be grateful songs, in which the Lord's mercies shall live again in joyful remembrance. The very remembrance of the past should tune our harps, even if present joys be lacking. "At the remembrance of his holiness." Holiness is an attribute which inspires the deepest awe, and demands a reverent mind; but still give thanks at the remembrance of it. "Holy, holy, holy!" is the song of seraphim and cherubim; let us join it not dolefully, as though we trembled at the holiness of God, but cheerfully, as humbly rejoicing in it.
"For his anger endureth but a moment." David here alludes to those dispensations of God's providence which are the chastisement ordered in his paternal government towards his erring children, such as the plague which fell upon Jerusalem for David's sins; these are but short judgments, and they are removed as soon as real penitence sues for pardon and presents the great and acceptable sacrifice. What a mercy is this, for if the Lord's wrath smoked for a long season, flesh would utterly fail before him. God puts up his rod with great readiness as soon as its work is done; he is slow to anger and swift to end it. If his temporary and fatherly anger be so severe that it had need be short, what must be the terror of eternal wrath exercised by the Judge towards his adversaries? "In his favour is life." As soon as the Lord looked favourably upon David, the city lived, and the king's heart lived too. We die like withered flowers when the Lord frowns, but his sweet smile revives us as the dews refresh the fields. His favour not only sweetens and cheers life, but it is life itself, the very essence of life. Who would know life, let him seek the favour of the Lord. "Weeping may endure for a night:" but nights are not for ever. Even in the dreary winter the day-star lights his lamp. It seems fit that in our nights the dews of grief should fall. When the Bridegroom's absence makes it dark within, it is meet that the widowed soul should pine for a renewed sight of the Well-beloved. "But joy cometh in the morning." When the Sun of Righteousness comes, we wipe our eyes, and joy chases out intruding sorrow. Who would not be joyful that knows Jesus? The first beams of the morning bring us comfort when Jesus is the day-dawn, and all believers know it to be so. Mourning only lasts till morning: when the night is gone the gloom shall vanish. This is adduced as a reason for saintly singing, and forcible reason it is; short nights and merry days call for the psaltery and harp.
6 And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.
7 Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.
"In my prosperity." When all his foes were quiet, and his rebellious son dead and buried, then was the time of peril. Many a vessel founders in a calm. No temptation is so bad as tranquility. "I said, I shall never be moved." Ah! David, you said more than was wise to say, or even to think, for God has founded the world upon the floods, to show us what a poor, mutable, movable, inconstant world it is. Unhappy he who builds upon it! He builds himself a dungeon for his hopes. Instead of conceiving that we shall never be moved, we ought to remember that we shall very soon be moved altogether. Nothing is abiding beneath the moon. Because I happen to be prosperous today, I must not fancy that I shall be in my high estate tomorrow. As in a wheel, the uppermost spokes descend to the bottom in due course, so is it with mortal conditions. There is a constant revolution; many who are in the dust today shall be highly elevated tomorrow; while those who are now aloft shall soon grind the earth. Prosperity had evidently turned the Psalmist's head, or he would not have been so self-confident. He stood by grace, and yet forgot himself, and so met with a fall. Reader, is there not much of the same proud stuff in all our hearts? let us beware lest the fumes of intoxicating success get into our brains and make fools of us also.
"Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong." He ascribed his prosperity to the Lord's favour - so far good, it is well to own the hand of the Lord in all our stability and wealth. But observe that the good in a good man is not unmingled good, for this was alloyed with carnal security. His state he compares to a mountain, a molehill would have been nearer - we never think too little of ourselves. He boasted that his mountain stood strong, and yet he had before, in Psa 29:1-11, spoken of Sirion and Lebanon as moving like young unicorns. Was David's state more firm than Lebanon? Ah, vain conceit, too common to us sill How soon the bubble bursts when God's people get conceit into their heads, and fancy that they are to enjoy immutability beneath the stars, and constancy upon this whirling orb. How touchingly and teachingly God corrected his servant's mistake: "Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled." There was no need to come to blows, a hidden face was enough. This proves, first, that David was a genuine saint, for no hiding of God's face on earth would trouble a sinner; and, secondly, that the joy of the saint is dependent upon the presence of his Lord. No mountain, however firm, can yield us rest when our communion with God is broken, and his face is concealed. However, in such a case, it is well to be troubled. The next best thing to basking in the light of God's countenance, is to be thoroughly unhappy when that bliss is denied us.
"Lord, let me weep for nought for sin!
And after none but thee!
And then I would - O that I might,
A constant weeper be!"
8 I cried to thee, O Lord; and unto the Lord I made supplication.
9 What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?
10 Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me: Lord, be thou my helper.
"I cried to thee, O Lord." Prayer is the unfailing resource of God's people. If they are driven to their wits' end, they may still go to the mercy-seat. When an earthquake makes our mountain tremble, the throne of grace still stands firm, and we may come to it. Let us never forget to pray, and let us never doubt the success of prayer. The hand which wounds can heal: let us turn to him who smites us, and he will be entreated of us. Prayer is better solace than Cain's building a city, or Saul's seeking for music. Mirth and carnal amusements are a sorry prescription for a mind distracted and despairing: prayer will succeed where all else fails.
In this verse we learn the form and method of David's prayer. It was an argument with God, an urging of reasons, a pleading of his cause. It was not a statement of doctrinal opinions, nor a narration of experience, much less a sly hit at other people under pretence of praying to God, although all these things and worse have been substituted for holy supplication at certain prayer-meetings. He wrestled with the angel of the covenant with vehement pleadings, and therefore he prevailed. Head and heart, judgment and affections, memory and intellect were all at work to spread the case aright before the Lord of love. "What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit?" Wilt thou not lose a songster from thy choir, and one who loves to magnify thee? "Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?" Will there not be one witness the less to thy faithfulness and veracity? Spare, then, thy poor unworthy one for thine own name sake!
"Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me." A short and comprehensive petition, available at all seasons, let us use it full often. It is the publican's prayer; be it ours. If God hears prayer, it is a great act of mercy; our petitions do not merit a reply. "Lord, be thou my helper." Another compact, expressive, ever fitting prayer. It is suitable to hundreds of the cases of the Lord's people; it is well becoming in the minister when he is going to preach, to the sufferer upon the bed of pain, to the toiler in the field of service, to the believer under temptation, to the man of God under adversity; when God helps, difficulties vanish. He is the help of his people, a very present help in trouble. The two brief petitions of this verse are commended as ejaculations to believers full of business, denied to those longer seasons of devotion which are the rare privilege of those whose days are spent in retirement.
11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness.
12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thank unto thee for ever.
Observe the contrast, God takes away the mourning of his people; and what does he give them instead of it? Quiet and peace? Ay, and a great deal more than that. "Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing." He makes their hearts to dance at the sound of his name. He takes off their sackcloth. That is good. What a delight to be rid of the habiliments of woe! But what then? He clothes us. And how? With some common dress? Nay, but with that royal vestment which is the array of glorified spirits in heaven. "Thou hast girded me with gladness." This is better than to wear garments of silk or cloth of gold, bedight with embroidery and bespangled with gems. Many a poor man wears this heavenly apparel wrapped around his heart, though fustian and corduroy are his only outward garb; and such a man needs not envy the emperor in all his pomp. Glory be to thee, O God, if, by a sense of full forgiveness and present justification, thou hast enriched my spiritual nature, and filled me with all the fulness of God.
"To the end" - namely, with this view and intent - "that my glory" - that is, my tongue or my soul - "may sing praise to thee, and not be silent." It would be a shameful crime, if, after receiving God's mercies, we should forget to praise him. God would not have our tongues lie idle while so many themes for gratitude are spread on every hand. He would have no dumb children in the house. They are all to sing in heaven, and therefore they should all sing on earth. Let us sing with the poet: -
"I would begin the music here,
And so my soul should rise:
Oh for some heavenly notes to bear
My passions to the skies."
"O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever."
"I'll praise him in life; I'll praise him in death;
I'll praise him as long as he lendeth me breath;
Anti say when the death-dew lies cold on my brow.
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now."