Theme: The Psalmist’s Sin and His Repentance
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
Here is a rich set of contrasts: God’s “anger” versus God’s “favor”; “weeping” versus “rejoicing”; “night” versus “morning”; and “a moment” versus “a lifetime.” But here is a warning before we go on. It is true that for the people of God the sufferings of this life are minimized. And even if their miseries should be great here, for reasons known only to God, they are more than compensated for hereafter. This is not true for unbelievers. For them it is exactly the opposite. For those who go their own way now there may be many times of temporary rejoicing. The world has its pleasures. Even the very wicked may have an occasional moment of heaven here on earth. But their portion hereafter will be hell. Judgment will come, and it will be true to say that for them that the anger of the Lord will last, not only a lifetime but forever. The time to discover God’s favor through Jesus Christ is now, while it is still the day of God’s grace.
At first glance the psalm seems to take an unexpected turn at verse 6, for suddenly the writer is revealing a former sin of self-confidence or pride and is apparently linking it to his illness. He recalls the time God turned his face away from him because of that sin, how dismayed he was, and even the words he prayed as he sought mercy from the one he had offended: “What gain is there in my destruction, to my going down into the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help.”
This not so surprising, however, when we remember the principle the psalmist has just explained. He has been speaking of the Lord’s anger lasting only for a moment and of his favor lasting a lifetime. The Lord’s anger presupposes the sin against which it is directed. So here David confesses that the sin that led to his sickness was that of saying, “I will never be shaken” (v. 6), forgetting that we are only secure when God upholds us. If there is a connection between Psalm 28 and the incident in which David sinned in numbering the people, as H. C. Leupold (and some others) have argued,5 the psalm is confessing that self-confidence is what lay behind the numbering. In other words, David had fallen into the trap of trusting in the numbers of his army rather than in the Lord. The contrasts here are: “feeling secure” versus being “dismayed” and enjoying God’s “favor” versus God “hiding his face.”
Self-confidence rather than God-confidence is a common failure among us, blessed as many of us have been with abundant wealth, enviable education and technical skills. As a people we think that we can get by on our hustle. As a church we think we can manage our affairs by secular skills and fund raising techniques without relying on God. As a nation we think we can survive on the strength of our military might and industrial production. What a shaking there will have to be! What calamities before we again humble ourselves under the hand of God and look to him to exalt us in his way and time!
In what ways do you see unbelievers experiencing temporary rejoicing, while also storing up eternal judgment?
What turn does the psalm take in verse 6?
Application: In what areas of your life do you struggle with the temptation to exercise confidence in yourself instead of a righteous reliance upon the Lord?
5See footnote 3.