Theme: Serious Sickness and Renewed Health
From this week’s lessons we learn of God’s power and mercy to heal, and what we need to do in response.
Scripture: Psalm 30:1-12
Verse 1 contains a very nice image for what happened, for when David says “you lifted me out of the depths” he chooses a verb which was used of drawing a bucket up out of a well. He is saying that it is as if God reached down and pulled him up out of death’s pit when, apart from God, there was no hope for him at all. The image introduces the first set of uplifting contrasts:
Lifted “up” versus “going down.”God who “helped” versus enemies who gloated.”Serious sickness versus renewed health.Threat of the “grave” versus life.Physical suffering versus praise and thankfulness to God.
Peter C. Craigie says rightly of this section, “The occasion for the present act of worship is not merely the assurance that God would answer, but the experience of actual healing because God had answered.”2
The important point, of course, is that God was responsible for the healing, which is why David is thanking him. It leads to this question: Do we adequately think of sickness and recovery in these terms? We live in a scientific age, which has had the bad effect of removing us from a sense of God’s presence and intervention in our lives. It makes us substitute secondary causes for the first Cause. We speak of “the miracles of modern medicine.” But strictly speaking, as thankful as we should be for medical knowledge, skills, personnel and resources, medicine is no “miracle.” It is a technology. The “miracle” in healing is God’s.
So when you are sick, pray. Ask God for healing. And when you are well again, remember that it is he who has healed you and thank him for it, as the psalmist does.
After expressing thanks to God for his healing the psalmist quite naturally turns to God’s people, whom he calls “you saints of his,” and asks them to join in praising God too. It would be right for David to have asked them merely to thank God that their king had been spared. But he does something much finer than that in this next section (vv. 4, 5). He asks them to praise God, not merely because God had been gracious to himself but because it is God’s nature to be gracious, which means that David was calling on the people to realize that this is how God had also been treating them.
To understand the principle David develops in this section we need to recognize that it is a spiritual statement regarding God’s character and not just a detached observation on life. Without the first half of verse 5, the second half might suggest the latter: Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
That could mean only, as we say, that “into each life a little rain must fall” or “every cloud has a silver lining” or “you’ve got to take the bad with the good” or “cheer up, things will get better.” But, of course, that is not the idea at all. It is true that there are good and bad things in life and that we do not always have to see a specific judgment or blessing of God in each one. But what David is talking about is God’s disfavor versus his favor, expressed in the experiences of life, and his conviction that the latter always outnumber and outweigh the former for God’s people.
The point is this. God is indeed displeased with sin and can never be indifferent to it. He judges sin with a holy anger, even in Christians. But for his people God’s judgments and anger are short-lived. They pass quickly. What remains is his favor, which lasts a lifetime.
What do we learn about God’s character from this psalm?
It is easier than ever before to view physical recovery as the result of modern technology and medication. Do you tend to think of sickness and recovery as being in God’s hands? Why or why not?
Application: Do we remember to render thanks to God for his restoration and providential care over us?
2Peter C. Craigie, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 19, Psalms 1-50 (Waco, TX: Word, 1983), p. 253.