The Righteous One’s Song of Dedication

a brief study of Psalm 30, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 29 Dec 2006

Psalm 30 has a rather descriptive title to indicate to us the occasion it was written: “A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of David.”

But what exactly is this house of David? Many commentators such as JA Alexander and Andrew Bonar hold that it refers to the dedication of the threshing floor of Ornan on Mount Moriah. The occasion, they surmise was David’s numbering of the troops, which incurred God’s wrath. God sent a plague against the people in his wrath, but the plague stopped at the threshing floor of Ornan where David prepared to offer a sacrifice unto the Lord. When the Lord answered David by fire, David in astonishment, exclaimed: “This is the house of the LORD God” (1 Chr 22:1).

This view fits very well with the content the psalm, especially, verses 6-7—

6 And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. 7 LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.

The problem with this view, however, is that the title of this psalm speaks of the ‘house of David’ not ‘the house of the LORD.’

Other commentators, such as Calvin, hold that this psalm is about the dedication of the house of David (1 Chr 15:1; 17:1). In this case, this psalm is about how God finally gave David rest after being pursued vehemently by Saul for many years, and then facing the conflicts of a divided kingdom for another 7 years.

The problem with this view is that the term ‘house of David’ occurs 24 other times in the Old Testament, but it is never used to describe the palace of David. It is always used to describe the dynasty or kingly line of David. For example in 2 Samuel 3:1 we read about the conflict that David faced while he was ruling in Hebron in these terms:

“Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.”

I would submit to you, then, that the ‘house of David’ in the title of this psalm refers to the kingly line and family of David.

This is consistent with the words of David’s prayer recorded in 1 Chronicles 17:24—

“Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified for ever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and let the house of David thy servant be established before thee.”

Psalm 30 could very well have been written for the same occasion as when David said this prayer. David was consecrating his house to the service of the Lord.

Now, this is significant because when we understand the ‘house of David’ in this sense, we know that it includes not just the biological descendents of David, but all who are spiritually united to Christ the Greater David. After all, the house or lineage of David is but a type of the Church which is united to Christ the King of kings. Thus Zechariah, referring to the ministry of the Lord, says:

“In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness” (Zech 13:1).

With this in mind, it is not difficult for us to see that Psalm 30, which David wrote in the Spirit of Christ, on the occasion of his dedication of his dynasty to the Lord, is ultimately about the dedication or consecration of the Church of Christ.

Indeed, it is not difficult to see how the words of this psalm could have been taken in the lips of Christ our Lord upon His resurrection from the dead, where upon, He dedicates His people (His house) unto the Father. This is how we will look at this psalm this evening.

This psalm has 4 parts.

a. Expression of Gratitude to the LORD (v. 1-3)

b. Exhortation to Praise the LORD (v. 4-5)

c. Reflection Upon the LORD’s Mercy (v. 6-10).

d. Exhilaration upon the LORD’s Deliverance (v. 11-12)

1. Expression of Gratitude to the LORD

1 I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. 2 O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. 3 O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

The Lord Jesus, the Greater David went to the Cross for our sin. As part of His punishment due to our sins, He had to bear the insults and abuses of the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles. Indeed, they would put Him to death through a sham judicial process that saw Him condemned to die despite being pronounced innocent.

Our Lord laid His life down in order that we may have life. He died that we might die to death. But the Father would not allow Him to remain in the grave, for He was perfectly righteous.

“O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave” (v. 3).

Our Lord cried unto the Father (v. 2). He prayed with sweat like drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. No doubt, He did not only ask to be delivered from the bitter cup if it were possible. No doubt He prayed to be delivered from death when His atonement was completed. Our Lord was never presumptuous.

The Father heard His prayer. He lifted Him up from the grave. His enemies could not triumph over Him. So our Lord begins this psalm with an expression of gratitude:

1 I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.

So, beloved brethren and children, we must over and over again express our gratitude unto the LORD. And this is exactly what our Lord teaches us to do in the next section of this psalm:

2. Exhortation to Praise the LORD

4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. 5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

As our Lord gave thanks to the Father after His wrath was over-passed, so let us, beloved saints of God, sing joyfully unto Him with thanksgiving.

Let us remember His holiness and justice by which He must deal with sin. He dealt with our Lord for our sin in order that we might be imputed with His righteousness that we might have fellowship with Him.

But He would deal also with our sin by chastising us. He will not punish us as our sin deserves because He has already punished Christ our Lord. But He will chastise us in love. He will chastise us so that we may be holy as He is holy. God’s chastisement always serves to sanctify us, cultivating patience and teaching us to trust in Him.

But this chastisement, as with the Lord’s punishment for our sin, will last but for a moment. “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Even if the Lord brings us through a lifetime of chastisement, the joy that comes in the morning lasts all eternity. Then shall we acknowledge that our weeping endured but for a night!

But it is a fact that God does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. Therefore, in times of trials, let us turn our eyes unto the Lord with faith knowing that He will only chastise us as much as sufficient.

So beloved brethren, if you are going through a period of darkness and confusion—whether it is due to an illness, a job-lost, a broken relationship, or depression,—remember to turn your eyes to the Lord in faith believing that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

What a joy it will be when the brightness of God’s countenance and favour shine on you again!

When that happens, let us not forget to sing, and sing cheerfully with grace in our heart, giving thanks at the remembrance of His holiness and His patience toward us.

And let us also remember the Lord’s mercy in our trial. Indeed, let us meditate on the purpose for which He sends us the trial as we reflect on His mercy toward us.

3. Reflection Upon
the LORD’s Mercy

6 And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. 7 LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.

When everything is well with us, we may indeed be very confident that we will never be moved—God will not allow us to be moved. By the LORD’s favour we are made to stand strong as a mountain (v. 7).

But as soon as God hides His face, then we are troubled. It is human to be troubled when God hides His face. Our Lord was likewise troubled. Before the Garden of Gethsemane, our Lord did not appear to be much troubled by the trial that was about to come upon Him. But as the dark hour approached and the thought of His Father hiding His face loomed, He was greatly troubled in His heart.

Our Lord was fully human.

So too we may expect to be troubled when God hides His face from us. But that is part of our sanctification: for such troubles drive us onto our knees that we might seek the LORD in prayer even as David, and our Lord did:

8 I cried to thee, “O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication. 9 What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? 10 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.”

Now, we must not misunderstand that the Lord is saying that His blood has no value. That would be heretical! What He is saying here (in view of what He has already said in verse 3) is that if He remains under power of death, His death would be of no profit. To paraphrase, He would be saying: “What profit would there be in my blood [death] if I should go down to the pit and remain there? Shall it declare thy truth that thou art a just and holy God? And that thy Son is given that thy house may praise thee and fellowship with thee for all eternity?” For this reason, the apostle Paul teaches us that Christ is raised for our justification (Rom 4:25) and that the Resurrection is essential to the gospel (1 Cor 15:14-17).

The Lord prayed with an eye on the praise and glory of the Father, and the Father heard His prayer. Shall He not hear our cries for deliverance too if we learn to imitate His Son?

4. Exhilaration upon the
LORD’s Deliverance

11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; 12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

As long as the Lord was bearing our sin, He was mourning. He mourned when His friends forsook Him. He mourned when the Father turned His face from Him. He mourned when He gave up the ghost.

Weeping may endure but for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

As the experience of God’s wrath turned into an experience of His love, so our Lord’s mourning turned into rejoicing.

Indeed, He would not be the only one who would be rejoicing. For all who are united to Him would be praising God with Him using His word.

This is the glory of Christ. The glory of Christ is the Church. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Eph 3:21).

The whole purpose of our Lord’s suffering and resurrection is so that His church might praise Him and not be silent. Christ has dedicated His church to be an instrument of praise and thanksgiving unto God for all eternity.

David was inspired by the Spirit of Christ to write this psalm on the occasion of the dedication of his house unto the Lord. But it is a song which our Lord must have sung or meditated on as He consecrated His Church unto His Father to be an instrument of praise and thanksgiving for all eternity.

We shall thank and praise God in union with our Lord. We shall praise and thank Him in a way that no angel can, for the angels never experienced sin and forgiveness and restoration as we did.


Beloved brethren and children, what is this psalm to you?

May I remind you of three thoughts from this psalm as we conclude.

· First, let us remember that the Father’s wrath endures but for a moment. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Therefore, if you are going through a dark patch in your life, do not despair. Joy is around the corner. The fact that you do not see it does not mean it is not there. As the Father delivered our elder brother, Christ our Lord, so He will deliver you. God has promised. In a moment, your affliction will be over and you shall be able to rejoice unhindered. Only believe.

· Secondly, let us remember this psalm, to use it. Have you been delivered from a season of trial and darkness? This psalm is a very appropriate psalm to us. We are told that in 1559 John Calvin was sick and unable to preach for 8 months. At the end of the period, when he was restored, he returned to the pulpit and one of the psalms that he led the people to sing was Psalm 30. Let us remember to use this psalm too at times of restoration that we may dedicate our lives afresh to the LORD.

· Finally, let us remember that the church is the glory of Christ. Let us therefore pray for the church. Let us pray for one another. And let us, as members of the church seek always the glory of Christ rather than our own glory or our own ambitions and benefits. Let us shine forth for Christ by loving Him and loving one another in the truth.

But let us remember especially that as the glory of Christ, we have been dedicated by our Lord to be the instrument of praise for all eternity.

Shall we not therefore begin today to praise and thank the Lord daily and especially when we gather together as the body of Christ? Let us do so with joy (v. 5). It is affront to God to sing such a joyful song with a mournful tone or with deadness in the heart. In this, we have not done well, beloved brethren. Let us seek the Lord’s grace to sing unto Him cheerfully. May the Lord help us! Amen.

— JJ Lim