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The 30th Psalm
This book condenses Spurgeon's great work on David's Psalms. Spurgeon's Treasury is the most authoritative study of the Psalms ever. It contains “some of the greatest and grandest words of comfort and inspiration that have ever been penned."
Spurgeon delivered his first sermon at sixteen and became a pastor the following year. Soon he was preaching to more than ten thousand people at each service. His long ministry in London resulted in sixty-three volumes of published sermons.
"When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." With these words, in The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave powerful voice to the millions of Christians who believe personal sacrifice is an essential component of faith. Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor and theologian, was an exemplar of sacrificial faith: he opposed the Nazis from the first and was eventually imprisoned in Buchenwald and hung by the Gestapo in 1945.
A Psalm; a Song at the Dedication of the House
I will extol You, O LORD, for you have lifted me up,
and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.
O LORD, You have brought up my soul up from the grave;
You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His,
and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment, His favour is for a lifetime;
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
Now as for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”
O LORD, by Your favour You have made my mountain to stand strong.
You hid Your face, and I was dismayed.
To You, O LORD, I called, and to the LORD I made supplication:
“What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your faithfulness?
Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me; LORD, be my helper!”
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness;
To the end that my soul may sing praise to You, and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
This is a psalm of David, written at the ‘dedication of the House’. The House here speaks of the House of God, the Temple.
There is a reference here to sackcloth. We remember the verse in 1 Chron 21:16. ‘David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, with his drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, covered with sackcloth, fell on their faces.’
And David said to God, ‘Is it not I who commanded to count the people? Indeed, I am the one who has sinned and done very wickedly, but these sheep, what have they done? O LORD my God, please let Your hand be against me and my father’s household, but not against Your people that they should be plagued.’ 1 Chron 21:17. David repents of his pride in numbering Israel. The story is told in 1 Chron 21 and 2 Samuel 24. David, numbers his warriors. Note 1 Chron 21:5, 6: ‘Joab gave the number of the census of all the people to David. And all Israel were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword; and Judah was 470,000 men who drew the sword. But Joab did not number Levi and Benjamin among them, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab.
It seems David was filled with pride. David, in his prosperity, said, “I shall never be moved.” We remember the words in Psalm 10:6 where the wicked man says to himself, “I shall not be moved.” And this is because ‘his ways prosper at all times’, Ps 10:5. By the grace of God, David had come into a large and great kingdom. The LORD had fought his battles, and he had won great victories over all his enemies, especially the Philistines.
But prosperity leads to pride, and David had forgotten that it was only by the grace of God that he had become a great king. He thought that it was because of His great army that he had won all his victories. Even an unspiritual man like Joab could see through to the pride of David. He protested against the census, but the king’s word prevailed.
Pride is the root cause of all evil. And pride is what led to the downfall of Lucifer the archangel, who became Satan the adversary against God. Hence it is written: ‘Satan…moved David to number Israel.’ What does the LORD say in Zech 4:6? ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts (armies). The original Hebrew for ‘Not by might and power’ is ‘Not by a mighty army!’
David was brought to the threshing-floor. The angel of the LORD commanded that David should go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 1 Chron 21:18. It is on the threshing-floor that the wheat is threshed, and the grain is separated from the chaff. There is nothing that man can boast about. And in God’s eyes to boast about our merits, our wisdom, our strength, our achievements, is naught but pride and foolishness and chaff, chaff, chaff!
Not enough to say that Christ died for me, but I must recognize that there is ‘nothing good in me’. And if I must boast, I will boast only in the Lord! 1 Cor 1:31.
The house of God is built upon such an experience. God builds His house with broken and crucified believers. Listen to Psalm 147:2, 3. ‘The LORD builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds.’
Listen to what the LORD says in Zephaniah 3:11,12. ‘I will remove from your midst your proud, exulting ones, and you will never again be haughty on My holy mountain. But I will leave among you a humble and lowly people, and they will take refuge in the name of the LORD.’
O that we may be brought to the end of ourselves, even as David was brought to the threshing-floor! How subtle and devious and deep-rooted is the sin of pride and self-righteousness in believers!
Explanation of the Psalm
David praise the LORD for three-fold victory over his enemies, over sickness and over death and the grave. In New Testament terms, this is the victory of Calvary. The Lord Jesus Christ has won for us victory over sin, Satan and death. ‘By His stripes we are healed.’
Verse 5 reminds us of Isaiah 54: 7, 8. ‘For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,’ says the LORD your Redeemer. This is the inward experience of the cross, ‘the dark night of the soul’, that every true child of God must go through before he comes to know the Lord in a truly deep and intimate way. David himself says, in verse 7b, ‘You hid Your face, and I was dismayed.’
The women of Galilee must have wept bitterly when our Lord was crucified, and with mournful faces they must have come to the tomb early that Sunday morning. But truly, after the dark and miserable night, joy did come in the morning! What radiant sunshine, happiness and victory came with the resurrection.
‘You made my mountain to stand strong.’ A mountain in the Bible stands for a kingdom. David’s kingdom was firmly established. But even though victory had been won over outward foes, the enemy within had to be overcome. And that inward victory is possible only when we cling to the Cross in total humility and brokenness.
David’s prayer is recorded in verses 8-10. He cries out for grace and help, even as we too must cry out for ‘grace to help in time of need’, Heb 4:16. The LORD is faithful; He will never leave us, nor forsake us, Heb 13:5b. And truly He brought David out of the pit of self-destruction, for the greatest enemy we have is our own Self.
The psalm ends on a delightful note of praise. ‘You have turned for me my mourning into dancing.’ We remember how David danced before the LORD. ‘You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.’ O yes, the Lord is faithful. After the long and dark night, there is light and gladness, joy and melody. And God will wipe away all tears from our eyes.
© Roland N Oliver/Pratonix