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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

Psalms 30



Verse 5

Psalms 30:5

The things of this Psalm are of continual interest. They do not belong to any one time or any one type of experience. Some of the notes in it are suitable to home and family, and individuals through all the years of their history. Eminently so is this fifth verse, which tells us of the bitter and the sweet, the dark and the light, which run, in various distribution, along human lives.

I. The underlying doctrine of the text is the great doctrine or fact that "God is love," that love runs through all, rules over all, explains all. The literal translation is this: "For in His anger is but a moment. In His favour is life. In the evening weeping may come in to pass the night, but with the morning there is a shout of joy."

II. Here, however, it may be objected that all this does not give us much help for our dark times, because it only speaks of the rapid and constant changes which come as life goes on. This, we know, it may be said, but is not this part of the trial? What we want is a decisive change for the better, that shall continue, and of this the passage does not seem to assure us. Yes, it does. It lies deep in the very terms that are used. (1) "Anger" is a strong but transient emotion. Favour is a calm, continuous, steady sentiment. (2) Take two other contrasted terms—"a moment," a "life." The anger is a thing of a moment; the favour is a thing that will live through life, and not die in death.

III. It is the design of the passage to teach us that one of these is more than the other, that the favour is more than the anger, the morning of joy more than the night of weeping. There is a balance of good in the world, using the word "good" in the lowest sense. Men are busy, men are happy, far more happy, at least, than miserable. Some few are miserable utterly; all are more or less unhappy at times and for a little. The dark time is for a moment. The brighter times stretch on, and flow into each other, and go far to fill up the life.

A. Raleigh, The Way to the City, p. 79.

References: Psalms 30:5.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 134; R. D. B. Rawnsley, Sermons in Country Churches, 1st series, p. 118, and 3rd series, p. 120; J. E. Vaux, Sermon Notes, 1st series, p. 66. Psalms 30:6.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 70.

Verses 6-8

Psalms 30:6-8

The words of the text describe three states which are, or have been, or will be all ours.

I. The first state is thus described: "In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Lord, by Thy favour Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong." We are in prosperity, and we say within ourselves that we shall never be moved. Our common temper is to calculate on our comforts continuing; we act just as if they were sure to do so; we give ourselves up to the things around us; our hearts are hardened, and we think not of God nor of His judgments.

II. The second state which the Psalmist describes will surely be ours; God will hide His face from us, and we shall be troubled. It is but too possible to lose our earthly good things, and yet gain no hope of heavenly things. It may be that our hearts will be hardened, that we shall have no desire to turn to God, though our earthly idols may be broken. Then God's face is indeed hidden, and for ever.

III. But the Psalmist goes on to say, "I cried to Thee, O Lord, and unto the Lord I made supplication." God had not so hidden His face from him as to refuse his prayers, or to make him unwilling to utter them. His troubles, whatever was their nature, were a wholesome chastening to him, and no more; they did but awaken him in time from his proud security. But the point to be observed is that we cannot reckon on troubles having this wholesome effect. The sorrow, indeed, is sure to come; but there is a sorrow which worketh death as well as a sorrow which leadeth to repentance.

T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 250.

References: Psalms 30:6-8.—Archbishop Thomson, Lincoln's Inn Sermons, p. 310. Psalms 30:9-12.—S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, 1st series, vol. i., p. 289.

Verse 11-12

Psalms 30:11-12

I. The text describes certain changes in the lives and experience of godly men. Sackcloth was the attire of the leper, the ascetic, the penitent, and the mourner, sometimes, too, of the prophets of God. Sackcloth represents a condition of affliction. Beautiful raiment was worn on festive and joyous occasions. Here the joy which the wearing of such attire would betoken is used to represent the raiment itself, and the raiment is employed to represent prosperity. There is in human life and experience the turning of mourning into dancing, the putting off of sackcloth and girding with gladness. They whose life has been redeemed from destruction will understand this.

II. The text points to God as the Author of these changes. (1) Mourning and sackcloth are contrary to the nature of God. (2) They are contrary to the disposition of God. (3) There is nothing in the Divine nature answering to temper in man, by which the nature and disposition of God are made to sympathise with mourning and sackcloth. (4) God has the right and the power to turn our mourning into dancing.

III. The text speaks of praise as the end and object of these changes. Praise is higher than prayer. It is Divine. There is nothing in the Divine consciousness which corresponds to our prayers; but in God's self-appreciation there is that which is in harmony with our praises. While God's creatures praise Him, they are unfallen; and in the degree that the spirit of praise is restored in them their redemption is being wrought out.

S. Martin, Comfort in Trouble, p. 37.

Verse 12

Psalms 30:12

I. The first reason for the Easter joy is the triumph and satisfaction enjoyed by our Lord Himself. We sympathise reverently with the awful sorrow of our adorable Lord and Friend; and thus we enter, in some far-off way, into the sense of triumph, unspeakable and sublime, which follows beyond it. It is His joy which inspires ours; it turns our heaviness into joy, and puts off our sorrow, and girds us with gladness.

II. Easter joy is inspired by the sense of confidence with which Christ's resurrection from the dead invigorates our grasp of Christian truth. The understanding, be sure, has its joy, no less than the heart; and a keen sense of intellectual joy is experienced when we succeed in resting truth, or any part of it, on a secure basis. Akin to the joy of students and workers is the satisfaction of a Christian when he steadily dwells on the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord's resurrection is a foundation on which all truth in the Christian creed—that is, distinctively Christian, and not merely theistic—really rests. It is beside the empty tomb of the risen Jesus that Christian faith feels itself on the hard rock of fact; here we break through the tyranny of matter and sense, and rise with Christ into the immaterial world. Here we put a term to the enervating alternation of guesses and doubts which prevails elsewhere, and we reach the frontier of the absolutely certain.

III. We may hope to meet our friends, not as formless, unrecognisable shades, but with the features, the expressions, which they wore on earth. Christ's resurrection is the model as well as the warrant of our own. Nay, more, "all men shall rise with their bodies." And if they whom we call the dead know anything of what is passing here on earth, then we may believe that the Easter festival is for them too, in whatever measure, an occasion of rejoicing, and that the happiness of the Church on earth is responded to from beyond the veil.

H. P. Liddon, Easter Sermons, vol. i., p. 196.

Reference: Psalms 31:4.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 234.


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Psalms 30:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

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