Morning joy, Psalm 30

How often pain or grief overwhelms us during the long dark of the night! Yet the rising sun reminds us of God’s loving care, restores our confidence in him, and renews our joy.

Identified as a “song at the dedication of the temple,” this psalm of David melds personal piety with corporate praise.

David begins by praising God for deliverance and healing:

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up
    and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you have healed me.
O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
    you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit (Psalm 30:1-3, ESV).

He immediately encourages others to join him in praising God:

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
    and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment,
    and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning (4-5, ESV).

It often seems in this life, filled with struggle and sorrow, that adversity lasts far longer than our fleeting moments of joy. But David reminds us that God’s favor trumps trouble, even in this life. We may weep through the night, but the rising Son restores our joy.

If we never had any struggles, would we ever learn to depend on God? David became overly confident in his prosperity—until God hid his face.

As for me, I said in my prosperity,
    “I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O Lord,
    you made my mountain stand strong;
you hid your face;
    I was dismayed (6-7, ESV).

Note that David didn’t boast in himself; he viewed his steadfast position as a gift of God’s favor. How different from Nebuchadnezzar, who boasted from his palace rooftop, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30)! He paid for that boast by becoming a grass-eating beast. In contrast to Nebuchadnezzar’s self-promotion, David has ascribed glory to God as the source of his prosperity. But David was presumptuous; he assumed that he would never be shaken.

When trouble struck and David felt himself totter on the grave’s brink, he cried to God (8-10, ESV):

To you, O Lord, I cry,
    and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death,
    if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
    O Lord, be my helper!”

God heard David’s cry. He reversed David’s emotional clothing (11-12, ESV):

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
    you have loosed my sackcloth
    and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

When David’s joy is restored, he doesn’t record this breakthrough in a personal journal. God’s purpose in restoration is praise. David can’t contain his joy. He will thank God now and forever.

Do you feel as if life is more sorrow than song? Do moments of joy seem rare glimmers of light in your dark night? God promises more than joy in heaven, where there will be no night. He promises to turn your mourning into dancing, to remove your sackcloth and clothe you with gladness. And he promises it now, during this lifetime, where weeping lasts only a night, but the Son rises and brings morning joy.

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