Bible Commentaries

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Psalms 30


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

This psalm is a thanksgiving on the recovery from some severe affliction which had threatened imminent death. That affliction was not the treachery of false friends, nor the conspiracy of enemies, nor war, but evidently a judgment of God. It is not necessary to suppose a personal sickness, though the writer’s life and kingdom were both imperilled. (See notes on Psalms 30:2-3; Psalms 30:6-7.) The moral cause of his affliction is hinted in Psalms 30:6. It seems, therefore, safer, following competent authority, to place this psalm at the date of 2 Samuel 24:18-25. The threshingfloor of Araunah the site of the future temple of Solomon called “the house of Jehovah” in 1 Chronicles 22:1, (see note on title,) was the summit surface of Mount Moriah.

The divisions of the psalm are four: Psalms 30:1-5 contain praise for the author’s deliverance; Psalms 30:6-7, the moral cause and depth of his affliction; Psalms 30:7-10, his prayer; Psalms 30:11-12, the renewed acknowledgment of the answer of his prayer, with pledges of unceasing praise.


Psalm and song Rather, A psalm; a song of the dedication of the house of David. Or, A psalm of David; a song of the dedication, etc., or a psalm-song of the dedication, etc. The difference between the two words is uncertain and practically unimportant. Mizmor ( psalm) is a term applied only to sacred songs; while shir ( song) is applied to both sacred and secular. Mizmor-shir, or psalm-song, occurs in titles of Psalms 67, 68, 87, 92. Shir mizmor, or song and psalm, occur in Psalms 48, 66, 83, 88, 108. Shir alone, Psalms 46:0; shir and mizmor, separated, Psalms 65, 75, 76. When in the construct state they should read psalm-song.

Dedication of the house This could not be the dedication of David’s palace, (2 Samuel 5:11-12,) for no such personal affliction as that complained of here immediately preceded that event, nor is the psalm adapted to such an occasion. See introductory note. “The dedication” was that of the threshingfloor of Araunah, or Ornan, on the summit of the rock Moriah, the site and foundation of the subsequent temple of Solomon. See 1 Chronicles 21:18-30, and 2 Samuel 24:18-25

Verse 1

1. Lifted me up The word signifies to draw up, as water from a well, or a man out of a deep pit, and is used to denote any extrication from perilous conditions. See Psalms 30:3.

My foes to rejoice over me Great as David had become in war and in peace, he was never without deadly enemies who would have rejoiced at his downfall, and only waited opportunity to accomplish it. No innocence or prudence can protect a man in power and influence from envy, rivalry, and hatred, nor a godly man from persecution.

Verse 2

2. Thou hast healed me The word for “healed” often means, figuratively, to restore to prosperity, whether of a nation, (Psalms 60:2; Isaiah 6:10;) or, morally, of individuals, (Jeremiah 3:22;) or, physically, of bad waters and malarious marshes, (2 Kings 2:22; Ezekiel 47:9; Ezekiel 47:11.) David had suffered as the head of the nation, as a king and father for his people, and had been reduced to great distress and perplexity, from which he was now “healed” or restored.

Verse 3

3. Brought up… from the grave… the pit The sweeping pestilence had brought him and the nation to the grave’s mouth. See 2 Samuel 24:15-17

Verse 4

4. Ye saints Ye pious ones, ye who worship God, and have obtained his grace. In Psalms 29:1, the psalmist calls upon the angelic host to give glory to God; here he calls upon the devout worshippers on earth to sing.

Remembrance of his holiness Rather, the memorial of his holiness; that is, the great recent deliverance which he has wrought. The memorials of God’s holiness are his great works of redemption and providence. See Exodus 3:15; Psalms 97:12

Verse 5

5. Night… morning The original is very terse and beautiful. In the evening weeping shall lodge with us; in the morning rejoicing. So quickly does infinite Love hasten to our relief! “His anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life.”

Verse 6

6. In my prosperity I said Here is stated the moral cause of the personal and national affliction complained of in the psalm. From a comparison of 2 Samuel 24:1-3 with 1 Chronicles 21:1-3, it is evident that a spirit of pride, and perhaps of foreign military conquest, actuated David in taking a census of the people, and hence it was done through his generals with a detachment of soldiers, and not, as on other occasions, through the priests; certain it is, that it was highly displeasing to God, and even to Joab and the people, and punishable as being a revolt from the true spirit of the theocracy. David himself afterwards acknowledged he had “sinned greatly,” and “done very foolishly.”

Verse 7

7. By thy favour thou hast made, etc. The judgment of God upon the nation, in sweeping away 70,000 people in two days and threatening the king’s life, taught him that his mountain or government Calvin: “solid support” that on which he firmly trusted was made strong only by divine favour, not by the multitude of his hosts nor his great skill in war. Thus when we listen not to milder methods, God by judgments teaches us our entire dependence on himself. In this verse David “contrasts his former self-confidence, in which he thought himself to be immovable, with the Godward trust he has now gained in the school of affliction.” Delitzsch.

Troubled In the greatest trepidation, terror, and perplexity, as the word denotes. So weak are kings without the favour of God.

Verse 8

8. I cried to thee See his prayer, 1 Chronicles 21:17

Verse 9

9. What profit… in my blood He now repeats (Psalms 30:8-10) the argument and urgency of his prayer while in affliction. “Blood” is to be taken in the sense of bloodshed, equal to violent death, as Genesis 37:26; Genesis 37:31, and elsewhere. What gain is there in my violent death, seeing that I confess and repent my wrong?

To the pit To the grave.

Shall the dust praise thee “Dust” is an intensive advance from “pit.” For the argument involved, see note on Psalms 6:5

Verse 11

11. Dancing This is not to be taken literally. “Dancing, here, is poetical of joy, or shouts of joy thanksgiving and songs.” Hupfeld. See this usage in Jeremiah 31:4; Jeremiah 31:13; Lamentations 4:15. This sense is confirmed by the parallel word “gladness,” in next hemistich. The Hebrews, especially the women, sang responsively and danced upon great festive occasions, as in Exodus 15:0; Judges 5:0; 1 Samuel 18:6-7; 2Sa 6:14 ; 2 Samuel 6:16; but dancing was never permanently attached to their religious worship. See notes on Psalms 42:4; Psalms 149:3

Verse 12

12. My glory Equal to my soul, as the most excellent part of man. See Genesis 49:6, and note on Psalms 16:9. The result of David’s prayer and of the divine dispensation to him is, that from his soul he may praise God, and “give thanks… for ever.”

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 30". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.