Bible Commentaries
Psalms 30

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-12


“This psalm was composed after recovery from a sickness which had very nearly proved fatal. The singer begins with an inscription of praise to God for His great goodness, and calls upon all who, like himself, had known the loving-kindness of Jehovah, to join him in his thanksgiving. Thence he passes (Psalms 30:6.) to a recital of his own experience, his pleading with God in his affliction, and God’s answer to his prayer. According to the inscription, the psalm was composed “at the dedication of the house.” But what house? Some would understand the dedication of the spot on which the Temple afterwards stood, and which David purchased of Araunah (2 Samuel 24:0; 1 Chronicles 21:0; 1 Chronicles 21:0). Others conjecture that by “the dedication of the house,” is meant a purification and reconsecration of David’s palace which Absalom had defiled (2 Samuel 20:3). But, perhaps, if the inscription be trustworthy, it refers to the house which David built in his new city of Zion, and the building of which he seems to have regarded as a pledge of the security and prosperity of his kingdom (2 Samuel 5:11-12). We must, however, still suppose that he had suffered just before from a sickness, about which the history is silent.”—Perowne.


I. God’s hand in sending sickness (Psalms 30:1-5). Sickness is common. No house is exempt, no age safe from its ravages. Sooner or later it comes to all. But we err, if we think it a chance, or the result of mere second causes. The psalmist saw in it the hand of God. “Thou hast lifted me up” (as a bucket from a well, Exodus 2:16; Exodus 2:19). How changed is sickness, when we recognise that it is sent of God. He does not act from caprice or passion. There is a “need be” (1 Peter 1:6). It is in love, and for our good, that He afflicts. As Jesus took the blind man whom He was about to heal “aside from the multitude” (Mark 7:33), so He takes His people, in sickness, aside from the din and bustle of the world, that in quietness and in solitude, He may speak to their hearts.

II. God’s mercy in alleviating sickness (Psalms 30:1). David felt that his case might have been far worse. As we learn from 1 Chronicles 21:12, he was offered his choice of three evils,—war, famine, or pestilence. He shrank from the first. His brave heart could not bear the shame of being driven before his foes. In his strait he left the decision with God. “Let me fall now into the hands of the Lord, for very great are His mercies.” Nor was he disappointed. Though cast down, he was not cast off; though visited with sore affliction, “God had not made his enemies to rejoice over him.” There are alleviations in every sickness. In wrath God remembers mercy. There is restraining mercy. “He stayeth His rough wind in the day of His east wind” (Isaiah 27:8; cf. Ezra 9:13; Malachi 3:17.) There is upholding mercy. Not only is life spared, and the grave deprived of its prey, but inward strength is given. Faith is confirmed; foes who watched for falls and prophesied evil are disappointed. There is comforting mercy. Books are a great help; the love of friends is a great solace. How different to be watched by the kind eyes, and to be ministered to by the gentle hands of those who love us, than to pine in solitude, or to be waited upon by strangers and hirelings! But, above all, there are the comforts of religion. Baxter said, “I have pain, there is no use arguing against sense; but I have peace, I have peace!” Samuel Rutherford said of Jesus, “His sweet presence eateth out the bitterness of sorrow.”

III. God’s loving kindness in restoring from sickness. There are many who have no sense of God’s mercies. They may have stirrings of heart and relentings so long as sickness lasts, but when it is over they go back to their old ways; they are little, if at all, altered for the better by what they have gone through. God is not in all their thoughts. But it is different with true believers. Their grateful cry is, “Thou hast healed me” (Psalms 30:2-3). Here recovery from sickness is represented—

1. As granted in answer to prayer. Mark the earnestness and faith of the supplicant. He cries to God as a child to his father. He takes hold of God’s strength, and pleads with Him as his covenant God. “O Lord my God.” Happy sickness that drives the soul to Jesus 1

2. As effected by sovereign love (Psalms 30:3). It was the Lord’s doing. Thrice does David say, “Thou hast.” And it was all of grace, and not for any deserving on his part. This thought awakens the liveliest gratitude (Psalms 116:1).

3. As designed for the holiest ends (Psalms 30:4; Psalms 30:6). If he had been brought back, as from the brink of the grave, and his strength restored, it was that he might consecrate himself anew to God, and serve Him with greater love and steadfastness (Psalms 119:67): “Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept Thy word” (cf. Isaiah 38:17-19; Hebrews 12:7-11; 1 Peter 5:10).

Jeremy Taylor says that “God who in mercy and wisdom governs the world, would never have suffered so many sadnesses, and have sent them especially to the most virtuous and the wisest men, but that He intends they should be the seminary of thought, the nursery of virtue, the exercise of wisdom, the trial of patience, the venturing for a crown, and the gate of glory.”


(Psalms 30:4-5.)

I. The Singers. “Ye saints of His.” “Beloved,” more literally, “who have obtained mercy of Him.”—Perowne. “His gracious ones.”—Alexander. “His pious ones.”—Murphy. “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.”—Spurgeon.

II The Song. Consider:

1. The Theme (Psalms 30:4). “His holiness.” “His holy name,” literally, “His holy memorial,” with reference, no doubt, to the passage in Exodus 3:15 : “This is My name for ever, and this is My memorial to all generations.” “God’s name is His revelation of Himself in all His various attributes of love, wisdom, power, holiness, truth, and righteousness. God’s memorial is that great history of redemption which was, so to speak, the setting up of a monument to His glory, on which all these attributes were inscribed.”—Perowne.

2. The Spirit. Devoutness. “Unto the Lord.” Sociality. “Ye saints.” Gratitude. “Give thanks.” Gratitude is a free and joyous affection. It has been well called the memory of the heart.

“ ‘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.”—Spurgeon.

3. The occasion (Psalms 30:5., cf. 1 Chronicles 21:15). The plague that followed the sin of numbering the people had brought David very low, but the voice that said “It is enough,” lifted him and his up again. The night of death, like that of Egypt, had filled the land with weeping, but the morning of mercy ushered in a day of gratitude and joy for the forgiven king and his people (Psalms 30:5). “A reason why God’s saints should praise Him, because He manifests Himself to them in love, not in wrath, or if in wrath, but for a moment. Love rules over all. The literal rendering of the verse is: ‘For, in His anger is (but) a moment, in His favour a life; in the evening, weeping may come in to pass the night; but with the morning (there is) a shout of joy.’ The parallelism is carefully preserved in each member, ‘anger, favour;’ ‘a moment, a life;’ ‘evening, morning;’ ‘weeping, joy.’ We must not repeat the verb ‘pass the night’ with the second clause. Weeping is described in the first under the image of a wayfarer who comes in at evening to lodge for the night. The suddenness and surprise of gladness, on the other hand, in the morning, are beautifully represented by the simple לַבּקָר דִפָה ‘at dawn, a shout of joy,’ without a verb. Just as the sun in Eastern lands, without any long prelude of twilight to announce his coming, leaps in, as it were, in a moment, above the horizon, so does the light of God’s love dispel in a moment the long night and darkness of sorrow. See the beautiful parallel (Isaiah 54:7-8)”.—Perowne.


(Psalms 30:6-12.)

I. Prosperity and presumption (Psalms 30:6). The pronoun is emphatic. “And as for me.” “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.’ ”—Perowne. “Prosperity,—the Hebrew word includes the idea of prosperity, and of that self-confidence which it produces.”—Alexander (cf. Deuteronomy 8:11-18; Deuteronomy 32:15; Hosea 13:6; 2 Chronicles 32:25). In itself “prosperity” is not evil but good. It is promised to the righteous (Psalms 1:3). It is a token of God’s favour (Genesis 26:12-13). But it needs much faith and humility to prevent its becoming a snare. It often leads to pride, self-indulgence, and forgetfulness of God. Thus what is good is perverted to bad uses.

“In prosperity conscience is a pope that gives dispensations to the heart.”—Samuel Rutherford.

“When men are made spiritually faint by dealing in and with the world, Satan sets on them, as Amalek did on the faint and weak of the people that came out of Egypt.”—Owen.

“Little knows

Any, but God alone, to value right
The good before him, but perverts best things

To worst alone, or to their meanest use.”


II. Presumption and chastisement (Psalms 30:7). God’s love is shown in divers ways. He treats His children according to their special requirements, but His ends are ever the same. Prosperity, when it leads to presumption, is a sore evil. It needs sharp treatment. Speaking is not enough (Jeremiah 22:2). Another method must be adopted. “Thou didst hide Thy face.” There is no greater affliction than this. The loss of health and prosperity is bad, the estrangement of friends is worse, but the withdrawal of God, as if in anger, is worst of all. The light of God’s face is salvation (Psalms 44:3). Zion’s strength was nothing, all the glory of Israel was gone if God departed. No wonder the psalmist says “I was troubled,” “ ‘agitated,’ ‘terrified,’ ‘perplexed.’ ”—Alexander.

Let us thank God for chastisement. It is for our good. We presume upon our health, and God sends sickness. We presume upon our friends, and God takes them from us. We presume upon our reputation and worldly goods, and God lets us be put to shame. We presume upon our frames and feelings in religion, and God suffers us to be tried with doubts and to walk in darkness. So in many ways, God teaches us humility, and shuts us up to Himself as the supreme and abiding good.
“Certainly virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed: for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.”—Bacon.

III. Chastisement and prayer (Psalms 30:8-10). “Is any among you afflicted, let him pray.” The two things are naturally connected.

Consider David’s prayer.

1. It is earnest (Psalms 30:8). “I cried unto the Lord.” His whole soul went out in a cry (cf. 1 Chronicles 21:16-17).

2. It is argumentative (Psalms 30:9). Like Job, he reasons with the Almighty (Job 23:4; cf. Isaiah 33:18-19). “What profit is in my blood;” in my death. “Shall the dust praise Thee?” “To thank God for His mercy, and to show the truth of His grace, form the chief end for which He leaves His people here for a season. The dust cannot do this, and the spirit is not here.”—Murphy.

3. It is disinterested. He does not seek prolonged life for his own sake, but in order to serve and praise God. He felt that his life would be more useful than his death (cf. Philippians 1:23-25).

It is a blessed thing when Enastisement thus leads the soul to cast itself on God, and to acquiesce in His will.

“Nearer my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee,
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me.”

IV. Prayer and deliverance (Psalms 30:11). His prayer has been answered. Here he acknowledges the greatness of his deliverance.

1. It was the Lord’s doing. “Thou hast,” &c. “Turned” (cf. John 16:20), not “exchanged for,” but “turned into.”

2. It was complete. “Beating the breast was a token of mourning. Dancing was an expression of pious joy (2 Samuel 6:14). So sackcloth was the garb of mourning (1 Chronicles 21:16). ‘Girded me with gladness.’ New garments are the wonted symbol of salvation” (Isaiah 61:3).—Murphy. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me” (Psalms 1:5).

V. Deliverance and praise (Psalms 30:12). “The sackcloth of his humiliation God had taken away off him, and had clothed him with the garment of praise. How should he do otherwise than praise God for ever for His goodness.”—Perowne. “To the end that my glory may sing praise to Thee.” The soul is the noblest part, the glory of man, and God’s deliverances are worthy of the highest efforts of the soul, in gratitude and praise. How often have God’s saints realised the truth of all these things in their experience (Psalms 103:3; Psalms 116:1). When we bow our hearts to God as our Father in Heaven, and say Thy will be done, we can confidently end with the triumphant song “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever.”

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 30". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.