Psalms 30 Commentary

Psalm 30 The danger of self-confidence

Feelings expressed in this psalm may have arisen from David’s personal experience, but they also reflect Israel’s experience during events leading up to the dedication of the temple (see heading to the psalm). Enemies may try to destroy, but no matter how bad the situation appears, it is never hopeless. There may be troubles, but God’s deliverance will follow as surely as day follows night (1-5).

Recalling the experience, the psalmist outlines some lessons it taught him. Prosperity and security had led to self-confidence, and God’s shattering intervention was necessary to remind him that his security depended solely on God’s grace (6-7). Being brought near to death he cried out, asking what would God gain by killing him. If he was dead, how could he then praise God and serve him (8-10)? Now that God has rescued him, sadness is replaced by joyful celebration, and anxiety is replaced by humble thanksgiving (11-12).

God’s desire for praise

Often in the Psalms there are statements where God himself is the one who is urging people to praise him. The psalmists, realizing how much God desires worship, use it as a reason to persuade him to save them from their troubles. If he allows them to die, they will no longer be able to bring him the praise he seeks (e.g. Ps 30:9).

It may seem at first that God is like a vain, self-centred person who demands that others be continually telling him how great he is. However, a closer look at the matter will show that this is not the case. In one of the psalms where God urges people to praise him (Ps 50:14,23), he also makes it clear that in no way is he in need of people’s religious contributions (Ps 50:12-13). God has no selfish craving for people’s attention.

Whatever people enjoy, whether it be nature, art, friend or lover, their enjoyment increases when they talk about it and praise it to others. When they are able to praise the object of enjoyment directly to itself (as in the case of a lover), their enjoyment increases further. Likewise as people praise God, their enjoyment of him is increased. Or, to put it another way, God gives more of himself to people as they worship him. Their acts of praise and worship become not only offerings to God, but also the means by


which God offers himself to them. By calling upon people to praise him, God is inviting them to enjoy him to the full.

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