Imagine that in the last years of your life, you are given the opportunity to write down what you have learned about God and to have your words read aloud in a worship gathering.
What would you write?
David wrote Psalm 30 sometime in his last years. He intended his words to be sung at the future dedication of the temple in Jerusalem. God had promised that David’s son would be the one to build the temple.
David would not witness that day, but he made extensive preparations for it. For years, David gathered materials and resources that would be needed to build the temple. He drafted building plans and organized priests into groups to serve as judges, worship leaders, and construction supervisors for the temple. And he wrote Psalm 30 to remind Israel of the faithfulness of God, whom they would worship at the temple.
Looking back at his life, what did David write about God?
God is worthy of worship.
I will exalt you, O LORD… (v. 1a)
David directs his praise the LORD, the covenant keeping God. He exalts the LORD as worthy of worship.
I will exalt you, O LORD,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me. (v. 1)
In his lifetime, David was hunted by King Saul, attacked by enemy nations, and maligned by lies from many foes. God rescued him time and time again, giving him victory over his enemies, rescuing him out the depths of despair.
O LORD my God, I called to you for help
and you healed me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the grave;
you spared me from going down into the pit. (v. 2-3)
When David endured a life-threatening illness, God answered his prayers and restored his life with healing power.
God’s favor lasts longer than His anger.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime. (v. 5)
More than once, David experienced God’s anger in response to his sinful actions. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed in battle. In arrogance, David took a census of his armies to measure his own strength instead of relying on God’s. But when David looked at his whole life, he measured God’s anger as a moment, God’s favor as a lifetime.
God hears our prayers.
To you, O LORD, I called;
to the LORD I cried for mercy:
“What gain is there in my destruction,
in my going down into the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me;
O LORD, be my help.” (v. 8-10)
Throughout his days, David called out to God. He asked for help and mercy so that he could continue to praise God for His faithfulness.
God turns grief into joy.
Weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning. (v. 5b)
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy (v. 11)
David was intimately acquainted with grief. He experienced the intense grief of death: the death of his best friend, the death of an infant son, the death of an adult child. He also endured the bitter grief of rebellion as more than one son rejected his counsel and turned against him.
And yet, when David looked back at his life, he came to a remarkable conclusion.
Grief is temporary.
David knew what it was like to put on the sackcloth of mourning, to wail in pain at the loss of someone he deeply loved. In time, he experienced a gift from God, a gracious exchange. David gave God his garments of grief, and God clothed him with joy. God heard David’s wailing and gave him reasons to dance again.
David said grief was not a permanent resident, but an overnight guest: gone in the morning, replaced by joy.
It is important to remember that David wrote these words on the other side of grief, not in the middle of it. David’s words give hope, but not a guarantee of a quick resolution. Grief keeps its own time.
Since this psalm is David’s reflection on a lifetime of God’s faithfulness,
we don’t know how long David’s seasons of grief lasted. We simply know that when David measured his moments, joy overcame grief because of God’s mercy.
We too can look back and see that God’s faithfulness is proven over time. Like David, we will be attacked by enemies and will experience God’s rescue. We will sin and receive the consequences of our actions, but we will also witness God’s loving favor. We will know the depths of grief, but we will also dance with joy.
With the help of the psalms, we too will be able to see our lives as a story of God’s faithful love.
David’s words were written as a testimony to the faithfulness and mercy of God and as an invitation to join in praise to the LORD. These words were sung by thousands at the dedication of the temple, and have been sung by many millions from that day until now.
Let’s join the singing today.
Sing to the LORD, you saints of his;
praise his holy name. (v. 4)
[You have done all of this so] that my heart may sing to you
and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. (v. 12)
Father, thank you for your faithful love. Thank you for this testimony from David that reminds me that you rescue, you heal, you show favor, and you turn grief into joy. Help me see your faithfulness in all of my days, the good and the bad. You are worthy of my worship. I praise you today and will give thanks forever. Amen.