Bible Commentaries
Psalms 30

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-12

Psalms 30:0

A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of David

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.

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.

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.

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.

11     Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing:

Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;
To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent.

12     O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.


Its Contents. For the Title vid. Introduction.19Thanksgiving for Divine deliverance from great peril of death begins the Psalm (Psalms 30:1-3), which is followed by an appeal to the congregation to praise the goodness of God, which soon changes the deserved trouble into abiding joy (Psalms 30:4-5). This has been shown in the life of the Psalmist, who mentions his false feelings of security and his boasting (Psalms 30:6), and his terror when he perceived the loss of the Divine favor, which constitutes the true basis of his power (Psalms 30:7). He then states the fact (Psalms 30:8), and the manner (Psalms 30:9-10) of his prayer and his experience of help (Psalms 30:11), in order that he may praise God without intermission, as he vows likewise to do (Psalms 30:12). Comp. P. Gerhard’s hymns: “Ich preise dich und singe,” and, “Sollt ich meinem Gott nicht singen,” with the refrain from Psa 30:520

Str. I. Psa 30:1-3. For Thou hast drawn me up.—The Hebrew word is used in Exodus 2:16; Exodus 2:19 of drawing water from a well and so is figuratively applied, Proverbs 20:5. But this is not the original idea of the word, according to Hupfeld, but is itself a particular application of the idea of drawn up, which is here rendered by all ancient translators and interpreters (so A. V. lifted me up). This does away at once with the chief point of the hypothesis of Hitzig, that the reference is to the deliverance of the prophet Jeremiah from the slimy cistern (Jeremiah 38:0). The deep place in question is manifestly stated in Psalms 30:3 [as sheol and grave, vid.Psalms 6:5; Psalms 16:9.—C. A. B.]; and since there is described there, not a great danger in general in a symbolical manner (Calv., Hengst,), or in hyperbolical expressions (De Wette, Hupf.), but the near peril of death, we cannot understand the healing Psalms 30:2, which is parallel with the drawing up, of help and salvation in general, but rather of deliverance from sickness. For the reading and the construction of Psalms 30:3 b vid. Hupfeld.—Thou hast quickened me from among those that go down to the grave. [Hupfeld: “Hell and grave are ideas usually interchanged and parallel: and מִן, from, is used at first of the place out of which he was drawn, then of the association of those who are there, from which he is taken away.”—C. A. B.]

Str. II. Psa 30:4. And praise His holy memory.—Memory is parallel with name,Exodus 3:15; Isaiah 26:8; Hosea 12:6; Psalms 97:12; Psalms 135:13, yet is not identical with it. The name makes God known, the memory brings God and our duty to Him to remembrance.

Psalms 30:5. For a moment (passeth) in His anger, a life in His favor; at even weeping turneth in (literally, passeth the night), and in the morning—shouts of joy.—The figurative character of these pregnant words is misunderstood by Hengst. and Hitzig and applied in the interest of their hypotheses, which however different in other respects, coincide in this, that they make all depend upon the duration of a single day. And it is the more remarkable when Hengstenberg denies the parallelism of the thought in Psalms 30:5 b, and translates: for His wrath brings on a (sad) moment, His favor life. At any rate, usage demands that רֶגַע should only be regarded as a designation of time. It is true that חַיִּים includes usually the material contrast with death, in accordance with its Biblical meaning; and so Geier likewise translates delectatur vita=God has pleasure in the life, and not in the death of the sinner: but this destroys the parallelism at once. But Psalms 27:4. shows that the idea of time may under certain circumstances, even in this world, appear as the only one. So likewise in Isaiah 54:7-8, an everlasting grace is contrasted with the moment of anger just as here a lifelong favor. The Vulgate has after the Sept. (which reads רֹגֶז) quoniam ira in indignatione ejus. So Roman Catholic interpreters in their expositions assert that the cause is used instead of the effect, wrath instead of punishment; particularly death.

Str. III. [Psalms 30:6. And as for me.—Perowne: “The pronoun with the conjunction thus at the beginning of a clause is always emphatic, and generally stands in opposition to something going before, either expressed or understood. Here there is a tacit opposition between the Psalmist’s present and his former experience. Now he had learnt through the lesson of suffering to trust in God. Before that suffering came, he had begun to trust in himself. ‘I seemed so strong, so secure, I began to think within myself, I shall never be moved; Thou hadst made my mountain so strong. And then Thou didst hide Thy face, and I was troubled’ ”—C. A. B.]

Psalms 30:7. Hadst Thou appointed strength to my mountain.—The Vulgate has instead of “to my mountain” decori meo after the Sept. τῷ κάλλει μου, which presupposes the reading חֲדָרִי So likewise the Syriac. The Chald. has: Thou hast placed me on strong mountains, which Hupfeld prefers, and it is certainly better than the interpretation of others: on my strong mountain. The Hebrew verb העמיד with the accusative of the thing and dative of the person leads, however, to the idea of appoint=give, comp. 2 Chronicles 33:8, with 2 Kings 21:8. The mountain is not so much a symbol of dignity and greatness, as either of security and of success, or of dominion, especially of the Davidic kingdom (2 Samuel 6:9; 2 Samuel 6:12; Micah 4:8).—[Thou didst hide Thy face, I was frightened.—For an explanation of God’s hiding His face vid.Psalms 13:1. The A. V. “troubled” is too weak.—C. A. B.]

Str. IV. Psalms 30:9. What profit by my blood, by my going down to the grave? can dust praise Thee? can it declare Thy truth?—The mention of blood does not lead necessarily to the idea of a violent death, for the soul is in the blood. [Compare the argument in Psalms 6:5, also Psalms 88:10; Psalms 88:12 and in Hezekiah’s words Isaiah 38:18-19, which is manifestly based on David’s words. Delitzsch: “His prayer for a prolongation of life was not for the sake of earthly possessions and enjoyment, but for the honor of God. He feared death as the end of the praise of God. For on the other side of the grave no more Psalms would be sung. Psalms 6:5. Hades was not overcome in the Old Testament, the heavens not yet opened. In heaven were the בני אלים (Psalms 29:0. sons of Gods), but not yet the blessed בני אדם (sons of Adam),”21—C. A. B.]

Str. V. Psalms 30:11. Thou hast turned my lamenting into dancing for me, didst undo my sackcloth and gird me with joy.—[Hupfeld: “Dancing (dances performed by women accompanied by songs and music at the celebration of a victory as Exodus 15:20; Judges 11:34 : 1 Samuel 18:6, or at religious feasts Exodus 32:19, Judges 21:21) is here poetical of joy or shouts of joy, thanksgiving and songs, as Jeremiah 31:4; Jeremiah 31:13; Lamentations 5:15.”—vid. Smith’s Dict. of the Bible, art. “Dance.”—C. A. B.]. Sackcloth is the hairy, tight garment of sorrow and penitence, which was worn on the naked body, sometimes girded on with a cord and sometimes not. The girdles were mostly colored and served at the same time as ornaments, and were often embroidered and partially adorned with costly ornaments. Hence the expression “gird” does not merely pass over into a figurative meaning as of girding with strength,Psalms 18:32, but is used at once in the sense of adorn, only that the fundamental meaning ever shines through, as Psalms 65:12 : the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.

Psalms 30:12. In order that glory may celebrate Thee.—Most interpreters take כבוד here as referring to soul. The only difficulty is the absence of the suffix, for in this connection the reference can only be to the soul of the Psalmist and there is no example of an ellipsis of the suffix (Geier, Rosenm.). And so Hupfeld supplies it at once in the text, which thus becomes like the words of Psalms 108:1. Kimchi thinks of the immortal soul in the eternal life as contrasted with the dust, Psalms 30:9, which he explains of the corpse and not of the grave. But without regard to this false contrast, the article could not fail, if the soul as such was to be designated. Many others depart from the context and take the abstract for concrete=the noble (Chald.) or indeed; every man who has a wise soul (Aben Ezra). The Syriac has not regarded this word at all as the subject, but as the object: therefore will I sing praise to Thee. But this is against the construction, which is restored by the interpretation: glory=praise, renown, hymn, sings to Thee (Maurer, Olsh., De Wette). In the song of Hezekiah (Isaiah 38:0.) the last two verses of this Psalm are re-echoed together with many passages from the Book of Job. [Perowne: The sackcloth of his humiliation God had taken off from him, and had clothed him with the garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3). How should he do otherwise than praise God for ever for His goodness.”—C. A. B.]


1. There is sufficient reason in the exhibitions of grace, helpings and deliverances which God richly bestows upon men, to praise Him continually and thank Him daily. “For as God lifts us by His hand on high from the depths into which we have fallen, so it is again our obligation to lift up our hearts and mouths to His praise” (Calvin). Would that the depth of our feelings might correspond with the depths of misery from which we were drawn up, and the earnestness of our praise and thankfulness with the greatness of our obligation, since we could not even with our highest thankfulness attain to the greatness of God.

2. The Divine grace and help are wonderfully exhibited to every individual, yet it is not something singular and special; therefore the favored one has confidence in the entire congregation, that they will gladly follow his appeal to unite in the song of praise and thanksgiving which he lifts up to God. The one bounty reminds us likewise of others, the particular help of the general salvation, the present deliverance of previous exhibitions of grace shown to other men, so that the pious remembrance of God’s holy Being, as it is made known in His Providence in history, is awakened and sustained and the holy memory of Jehovah forms the subject of the songs of praise of the congregation.

3. It is worthy of particular consideration that whilst we richly deserve the wrath of God and must experience its frightful effects likewise in those sufferings in which we receive the taste of the punishments of our sins, yet the delivering favor of God which giveth life turns directly to the sinner when he is awakened from his security, and is terrified on account of his sins, and is brought in humility to the knowledge of his true condition and implores the grace of God. Thus we perceive that not wrath, but love is the essential disposition of God, and that He has both of these dispositions in Himself. “Alles Ding währt seine zeit, Gottes Lieb’ in Ewigkeit.” (P. Gerhardt.

4. Even pious people have to keep before them the dangers of prosperity and be warned by the example of David, in order that they may not be betrayed in times of prosperity to hurtful confidence in self, and false feelings of security and then descend from their imaginary height, strength and abundance, and lose more than they ever thought it possible to lose. But the security of fools ruins them (Proverbs 1:32; comp. Deuteronomy 8:11-18; Deuteronomy 32:15; Hosea 13:6). Yet he who has been brought by sufferings to reflection, by falls to awakening and thereby to terror, self-knowledge, prayer, gains not only true help and a new grace and attains to fresh and joyous thankfulness, but gains likewise beyond self, to tell others his history in humble and thankful joy, that they may be warned, instructed and consoled. “David previously fast asleep, suddenly begins to cry out in terror to the Lord. For as iron, when it has become rusty by long disuse, cannot be again used until it is heated again in the fire and beaten with the hammer, so when once carnal security has prevailed, no one can quickly equip themselves for prayer, unless previously beaten and properly prepared by the cross” (Calvin).

5. God in the deliverance of those who seek Him in penitence, declares not only His goodness and His faithfulness, but likewise His truth, which is to be transmitted from father to son (Isaiah 38:19), from generation to generation (Psalms 22:31). Accordingly it is incumbent upon God and is in the interest of God not to be robbed of those servants who have pleasure in never ceasing to praise Him, and who in imploring for the preservation of their life have directed themselves not to earthly things, but to God’s glory and the efficiency of His service with heart, mind and thoughts, in the assurance that this can be accomplished by them only on earth and in this life, so long as death, the world below and hell have not been vanquished.


Our songs of praise and thanksgiving cannot be drawn too deep, nor ascend too high, nor be spread too far, nor last too long.—No misery is so deep that we cannot be drawn out of it by God, but no height is so great that we cannot be cast down from it.—It is not God’s fault if His anger last longer than a moment.—When suffering or joy turns in to us, we do well to inquire whether God has sent us these guests.—It is not indifferent how long we may weep or shout for joy, but more depends upon what they are about, for God determines their duration in accordance with it.—We know not how many moments remain to us in this short, life, therefore it is important, that we should always be found as servants of God, in order that we may be ready through God’s favor to give account at any moment, and that we may praise forever His gracious help in bodily and spiritual things.—In the congregation of God are heard not only the songs of sorrow and of praise of its members, but there may be heard there likewise their penitential prayers and confessions of faith.—The experiences of believers should minister to the salvation of others, therefore they are told and written by them.—To the preaching of the truth of God belongs the preaching of His wrath against the sinner as well as the message of His grace towards the penitent and the narration of His love towards those seeking salvation.—We can have no better wish, than to experience God’s grace our lives long, declare God’s truth daily, praise God’s name forever.

Starke: It is a great benefit, when God prolongs a man’s life until he turns to God in righteousness.—God’s usual way is to cause a constant saving interchange of sorrow and of joy, in order that we may not sink under the burden.—In good days we should think of the uncertainty of success and of our own weakness, and not put our trust in ourselves and be presumptuous.—Children of the world seek to banish their sorrow by earthly pleasures of every kind, but the children of light know that all comes from the hand of the Lord; hence they wait patiently until the Lord Himself shall turn their sorrow into joy.—Osiander: When we are in trouble, carnal security soon falls to the ground and we tremble and shudder for it.—Selnekker: The guilt is man’s, the punishment comes from God. But God delights in the life of man and has not ordained any man to death, but would that all men should turn and live.—Arndt: We have here an earnest warning from the example of the dear David, that we should fear God in good days, and not be secure and rely upon temporal things.—Tholuck: To confess that God is righteous in His chastisements is very difficult for men, but David was always ready to confess this after his failures.—Stiller: This Psalm gives comfort in the sufferings of life, and says first of all, from whom they come, then how long they will endure, and finally what profit they will have.—Guenther: Every one ascends high and has ascended, who lets himself be guided in the way of the Lord.—He who always fares well quickly forgets God, and forgets likewise his poor soul; he then neglects to struggle, he regards himself as safe, even the gracious countenance of God shining upon him in continued success, he too easily takes for God’s good pleasure in his holiness.—Thym: The pious sufferer on the bed of severe sickness: 1) knows thoroughly the weakness of his nature; 2) feels therein the chastisement of the holy God; 3) turns to the Physician who ever helps.

[Matth. Henry: The more imminent our dangers have been, the more eminent our deliverances have been, the more comfortable to ourselves, and the more illustrious proofs of the power and goodness of God A life from the dead ought to be spent in extolling the God of our life.—No one of all God’s perfections carries in it more terror to the wicked nor more comfort to the godly, than His holiness.—Our happiness is bound up in God’s favor; if we have that we have enough, whatever else we want. It is the life of the soul, it is spiritual life, the earnest of life eternal.—Barnes: If we are to offer prayer for the salvation of our children, neighbors, or friends, it is to be done in this world; if we are to admonish and warn the wicked, it is to be done here; if we are to do anything by personal effort for the spread of the Gospel, it is to be done before we die. Whatever we may do in heaven, these things are not to be done there; for when we close our eyes in death, our personal efforts for the salvation of men will cease forever.—Spurgeon: 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.—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.—Heavenly heart-music is an ascending thing, like the pillars of smoke which rose from the altar of incense.—We die like withered flowers when the Lord frowns, but His sweet smile revives us as the dews refresh the fields. His favor not only sweetens and cheers life, but it is life itself, the very essence of life. Who would know life, let him seek the favor of the Lord.—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 to-day shall be highly elevated to-morrow; while those who are now aloft shall soon grind the earth.—The next best thing to basking in the light of God’s countenance is to be thoroughly unhappy when that bliss is denied us.—C. A. B.]


[19][The genitive “of David” does hot belong to “the house” but to “A Psalm.” Riehm is probably correct in regarding the שׁיר־חֲנכַֻּת חַכַּיִת as a later liturgical addition to the Title, showing that it was to be used at the feast of Dedication, which was instituted by Judas Maccabeus in 165 B. C. to commemorate the purification of the Temple from its desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes. שִיר is not used in the Title of any other Psalm of the first book. The Psalm would then have a general reference to David’s recovery from sickness corresponding with Psalms 16:0 and there is no reference to a house of his own or to the temple in the Psalm. But it might very properly be used at the feast of Dedication in subsequent times when once fixed by the circumstances of the Maccabean period. If however the Title is to be regarded as entirely original the house is not the house of David, whether at its reconsecration from the defilement of Absalom (2 Samuel 20:3), Calvin, Cocc. Geier, et al., or the rebuilding of the citadel of Zion which David regarded as the pledge of the greatness of his empire (Delitzsch, Moll, Perowne et al.), which is better; but to the house of God. And then it does not refer to the temple of Solomon (Chald., Rabbins. Hupf., et al.), but to the dedication of the threshing floor of Araunah (2 Samuel 24:20, sq.) after the three days’ plague (Rosenm., Venema, Hengst, Keil, Tholuck, Alexander, et al.).—C. A. B.]

[20][Delitzsch: “The call to praise God which in Psalms 29:0 goes forth to the angels above, in Psalms 30:0 is directed to the pious here below.”—C. A. B.]

[21][Perowne; “The truth seems to be, that whilst the Faith of the Old Testament saints in God was strong and childlike, their Hope of Immortality was at best dim and wavering, brightening perhaps for a moment, when the heart was rejoicing in God as its portion, and then again almost dying away.”—C. A. B.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 30". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.