Bible Commentaries
Psalms 30

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Psalms 30:0


Thanksgiving For Deliverance From Death The Blessedness of Answered Prayer Thanksgiving For Healing A Prayer of Thanksgiving Thanksgiving After Mortal Danger
MT Intro “A Psalm; A Song at the Dedication of the House. A Psalm of David.”
Psalms 30:1-5 Psalms 30:1-3 Psalms 30:1-3 Psalms 30:1-3 Psalms 30:1-3
Psalms 30:4-7 Psalms 30:4-7 Psalms 30:4-5 Psalms 30:4-5
Psalms 30:6-9 Psalms 30:6-7 Psalms 30:6-7
Psalms 30:8-10 Psalms 30:8-10 Psalms 30:8-10 Psalms 30:8-9
Psalms 30:10-12 Psalms 30:10-12
Psalms 30:11-12 Psalms 30:11-12 Psalms 30:11-12

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


The introduction, which is in the MT, is not original (i.e., not in DSS psalms). It was obviously added later. I do not accept these introductions as inspired (see Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Biblical Difficulties, p. 243), therefore, I do not comment on them.

Verses 1-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 30:1-5 1I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my enemies rejoice over me. 2O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. 3O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit. 4Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name. 5For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.

Psalms 30:1-5 The psalmist extols and praises YHWH for deliverance from death.

Psalms 30:1 “I will extol” This verb (BDB 926, KB 1202, Polel imperfect used in a cohortative sense) has two primary meanings.

1. to exalt, extol (here of YHWH), cf. Exodus 15:2; Psalms 34:3; Psalms 99:5, Psalms 99:9; Psalms 107:32; Psalms 118:28; Psalms 145:1; Isaiah 25:1

2. to lift up (referring to praise of YHWH), cf. 2 Samuel 22:47; Psalms 18:46; Psalms 21:13; Psalms 46:10; Psalms 57:5, Psalms 57:11

This praise is given because YHWH has acted.

1. He lifted up (BDB 194, KB 222, Piel perfect) the psalmist, Psalms 30:1 (this term was used of drawing water from a well and may refer to divine rescue from the pit, cf. Psalms 30:4).

2. He did not let the psalmist's enemies rejoice (BDB 33, KB 38, Qal participle), cf. Psalms 25:2; Psalms 41:11.

3. He healed him (BDB 750, KB 1272, Qal imperfect with waw), Psalms 30:2.

4. He brought his soul up from Sheol (BDB 748, KB 828, Hiphil perfect), Psalms 30:3.

5. He has kept him alive (BDB 310, KB 309, Piel perfect), Psalms 30:3.

Psalms 30:2 “O Lord my God” This is two of the most common designations of Israel's Deity (see SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY).

1. YHWH God as Savior, the covenant-making God, cf. Genesis 2:3

2. Elohim God as creator and provider of all life on this planet, cf. Genesis 1:1

Notice how this Psalm starts with this title (Psalms 30:2) and ends with this title (Psalms 30:12). This is typical of Hebraic literary style (i.e., inclusio).


“You healed me” See Special Topic above.

Psalms 30:3 “Sheol. . .pit” These two terms (synonymous parallelism) refer to the grave or the holding place of the dead. See SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead?.

Notice that antithetical parallelism common in this Psalm. It demonstrates, in very real-to-life ways, the “two ways” of Psalms 1:0.

For a good brief discussion of “pit” see IVP, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, p. 646-647.

Psalms 30:4

NASB“godly ones” NKJV“saints” NRSV“faithful ones” TEV“faithful people”

This adjective (BDB 339) is formed from the noun hesed (BDB 338), which denoted covenant loyalty. See SPECIAL TOPIC: LOVINGKINDNESS (HESED).

1. On God's part; He is faithful to His covenant promises.

2. On the faithful follower's part; he/she must be obedient and steadfast to their covenant obligations.

It becomes a common title in the Psalms for faithful covenant followers (i.e., Psalms 4:3 and many more). Several translations (TEV, NJB) see Psalms 30:4-5 as a separate strophe imploring faithful followers to join in the praise of YHWH (see paragraph divisions on the front page of this Psalm).

In this context they are called to

1. sing praise BDB 274, KB 273, Piel imperative

2. give thanks BDB 392, KB 389, Hiphil imperative

NASB, NRSV, JPSOA“name” NKJV“remembrance” TEV“remember” NJB“unforgettable”

The MT has the noun “remembrance” or “memorial” (BDB 271, cf. Hosea 12:5). Here it refers to YHWH's gracious character and powerful acts on behalf of His people (cf. Psalms 6:5; Psalms 30:5; Psalms 97:12; Psalms 102:12; Psalms 111:4; Psalms 145:7). The Hebrew concept of “name” is here, but not the word. Both occur in parallel in Psalms 135:13 and Isaiah 26:8. Also notice the focus on “memorial-name” in Exodus 3:15.

Psalms 30:5 This verse has captured the wonder of grace to fallen humanity (antithetical parallel). This is a fallen world but YHWH would not allow the broken fellowship of Eden to be permanent. There are consequences to sin and rebellion but by His grace, mediated through a faithful follower's faith (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9), there is forgiveness and restoration (cf. Psalms 103:8-14; Isaiah 54:7-8)! The only permanent consequence is unbelief. It is the unpardonable sin (see Special Topic: The Unpardonable Sin).

The first two lines of Psalms 30:5 have no verbs. The tense structure emphasizes the theological point

“For a moment His anger

For a lifetime His favour!”

The AB (p. 182) suggests that “lifetime” (BDB 213) means “eternal life,” based on Psalms 21:4. However, Psalms 91:16 is the normal OT usage of this word, which refers to this life.

Just an added thought about “anger” in this context. The OT saw a linkage between sin and sickness (cf. James 5:13-18). Jesus seems to modify this view in John 9:1-12. If God judged us in light of our sin we would all be sick and dying. The wonderful truth is we deserve “anger” but we get mercy, grace, and love! We, however, are not all healed (see SPECIAL TOPIC: IS HEALING GOD'S PLAN FOR EVERY AGE?)! Yet He is with us in our sufferings (cf. Romans 8:18-25; 2 Corinthians 4:17).

“His anger” This root (BDB 60) is related to “nose” (i.e., red face) or “snort” (unspoken but vocal sign of human emotion). See SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD DESCRIBED AS HUMAN (ANTHROPOMORPHISM).


Verses 6-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 30:6-9 6Now as for me, I said in my prosperity, “I will never be moved.” 7O Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain to stand strong; You hid Your face, I was dismayed. 8To You, O Lord, I called, And to the Lord I made supplication: 9”What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your faithfulness?

Psalms 30:6-9 This strophe seems to reflect the fulfillment of the covenant promises of Leviticus 26:0 and Deuteronomy 28:0. YHWH wanted to prosper His people to show the world His character. The psalmist, as a faithful follower, is asserting what YHWH did for him.

1. prospered him

2. gave him stability (i.e., “I will never be moved”)

3. made him strong (i.e., figure of a mountain; LXX has “my majesty”)

4. answered his prayers

5. protected him from death so he could praise YHWH's faithfulness (BDB 54)

The AB (p. 182) sees this strophe as a warning against the sin of overconfidence. The UBS Handbook (p. 282) sees it as his past inappropriate experience. However, I prefer the Leviticus 26:0 and Deuteronomy 28:0 confidence. The Handbook asserts that this Psalm, like Psalms 29:0, is a chiastic pattern. If this is true then the middle of the chiasm should be the main truth. But note the middle would be Psalms 30:6, which both the UBS Handbook and AB say is an inappropriate experience. You cannot have it both ways!

Psalms 30:7b It is unsure how Psalms 30:7b fits with Psalms 30:7a,c. The two verbs (perfects) describe a settled condition.

1. You hid Your face BDB 711, KB 771, Hiphil perfect, “face,” refers to personal presence, he felt YHWH had left him, was not available, did not hear his prayers.

2. I was (BDB 224, KB 243, Qal perfect) dismayed BDB 96, KB 111, Niphal participle. This term means “disturbed,” “dismayed,” or “terrified,” cf. Job 4:5; Job 23:15; Psalms 6:2-3; Psalms 83:17; Psalms 90:7; Psalms 104:29; Isaiah 13:8; Isaiah 21:3; Jeremiah 51:32; Ezekiel 26:18.

The JPSOA sees Psalms 30:7b in contrast to Psalms 30:8, YHWH made the psalmist “firm as a mighty mountain,” but if/when He hid His face, it brought “terror.” Therefore, he called out to YHWH in prayer (Psalms 30:8). Prosperity alone, even covenant prosperity (cf. Leviticus 26:0; Deuteronomy 28:0) is not enough! We need God! We need to feel His presence and pleasure! We were created (cf. Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 3:8) for fellowship with God. Nothing, nothing else can meet this need!

Psalms 30:9 There are two rhetorical questions which, in context, expect a “no” reply.

“dust” This (BDB 779) is a figurative expression for death (cf. Psalms 22:15, Psalms 22:29; Isaiah 26:19; Isaiah 29:4) or Sheol/pit. Humans were made of clay/dust (cf. Genesis 2:7) and to dust we return at death (cf. Genesis 3:19).

“will dust praise You?” In the OT death was a conscious, but silent, existence (cf. Psalms 6:5; Psalms 88:11-12; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Isaiah 38:18-19).

“Your faithfulness” This is “amen” (BDB 54); see SPECIAL TOPIC: Believe, Trust, Faith, and Faithfulness in the Old Testament (אמן).

YHWH is faithful (BDB 54) and loyal (BDB 338) to His covenant. He is the One who does not change (cf. Malachi 3:6; Psalms 102:27; James 1:17; also note Hebrews 13:8). Our hope, as faithful followers, is in the unchanging, merciful character of YHWH.

Verses 10-12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 30:10-12 10” Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me; O Lord, be my helper.” 11You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, 12That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Psalms 30:10-12 This strophe starts out with three prayer requests (imperatives).

1. hear BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative

2. be gracious BDB 335, KB 334, Qal imperative

3. be my helper (BDB 740, KB 810) BDB 224, KB 243, Qal imperative

Notice what YHWH's response caused in the psalmist.

1. turned him from mourning into dancing

2. loosed his sackcloth and girded him with gladness (“gladness” is a poetic way of contrasting sackcloth, i.e., festival garments)

3. caused him to sing praises and he will not be silent

4. caused him to give thanks forever

Psalms 30:11 “sackcloth” This was worn as a sign of mourning.


Psalms 30:12 “that my soul may sing praise to You” The “my soul” is literally “glory” (BDB 458). The same consonants also mean “liver.” The UBS Text Project (p. 209) suggests it could be understood as

1. referring to the psalmist himself (i.e., inner most beingliver) by the term (LXX, NKJV, NRSV, TEV, JPSOA)

2. a vocative, “O Glory,” referring to YHWH


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Does God heal all faithful followers?

22. Explain why Psalms 30:5 is such an important verse.

3. Is Psalms 30:6 a positive or negative statement?

4. How are Psalms 30:9 and 12 related?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 30". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". 2021.