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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 30

A.M. 2962. B.C. 1042.

This is a Psalm of thanksgiving for the great deliverances which God had wrought for David, composed and sung, no doubt, upon the occasion of his dedicating his house of cedar, mentioned 2 Samuel 5:11 . It is penned with great strength and elegance of diction, and the sentiments of piety in it are truly noble and instructive. The manner in which he describes the interpositions of God in his favour, and the gratitude of his own heart, is warm, sententious, and affecting; the periods being short, and answering to the events which crowded fast upon one another, and the various affections that inspired him. He praises God for delivering him, and exhorts others to praise him, Psalms 30:1-5 . Recollects his former security and his prayer when in trouble, 6-10. And stirs himself up to thankfulness, Psalms 30:11 , Psalms 30:12 . The Psalm is well suited to the occasion on which it was penned, for nothing could be more proper than the recollection of the past conduct of Providence amidst the various changes of condition which had attended him, the numerous and dangerous distresses that had befallen him, and the deliverances which God had seasonably wrought out for him; till at length he was brought to the height of prosperity, when he saw Jerusalem well fortified, and her numerous buildings rising up under his hand, and his own palace magnificently finished for the residence of himself and family.

Title. At the dedication, &c. Hebrew, שׁיר חנכת , shirchanucath, a song of initiation of the house of David. The word signifies, the first use that is made of any thing. It was common among the Jews, when any person had finished a house and entered into it, to celebrate the event with great rejoicings, and keep a festival, to which his friends were invited. And these dedications were performed in a very solemn manner, with divers rites, prayers, and praises to God, as the nature of the business required. And it seems probable from the matter of this Psalm, compared with the title, that David had about this time been delivered from some eminent distresses, and particularly from some dangerous sickness, for which he here gives thanks to God, taking advantage of this public and solemn occasion.

Verse 1

Psalms 30:1. Thou hast lifted me up Hebrew, דליתני , dillitani, evexisti me, Buxtorff. Dr. Waterland renders it, Thou hast drawn me up, namely, out of the deep pit, or waters, to which great dangers and afflictions are frequently compared. “The verb is used, in its original meaning, to denote the reciprocating motion of the buckets of a well; one descending as the other rises, and vice versa; and it is here applied with admirable propriety to point out the various reciprocations and changes of David’s fortunes, as described in this Psalm, as to prosperity and adversity; and particularly that gracious reverse of his afflicted condition, which he now celebrates, God having raised him up to great honour and prosperity: for, having built his palace, he perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom, for his people Israel’s sake, 2 Samuel 5:21.” Chandler.

Verses 2-3

Psalms 30:2-3. Thou hast healed me That is, delivered me from the fears and troubles of my mind, (which are often compared to diseases,) and from very dangerous distempers of my body. For the original word is used, either of the healing of bodily disorders, Psalms 103:3, or to denote the happy alteration of a person’s affairs, either in public or private life, by the removal of any kind of distress, personal or national, Psalms 107:20; Isaiah 19:22. Thou hast brought up my soul from the grave My deliverance is a kind of resurrection from the grave, on the very brink of which I was. Under Saul he was frequently in the most imminent danger of his life, out of which God wonderfully brought him. Thou hast kept me alive This he adds, to explain the former phrase, which was ambiguous. That I should not go down to the pit That is, into the grave, which is often called the pit.

Verse 4

Psalms 30:4. Give thanks at the remembrance Or, at the mention, of his holiness When you call to mind, or when others celebrate, as I do this day, the holiness of God’s nature; which he manifests by his works, by his mercy and truth, his care and kindness toward his holy ones. Of the holiness of God, or of the rectitude and sanctity of his nature, demonstrated by his faithfulness to his promises, David had the highest and most comfortable assurance. “God having, at last, brought him to the throne and settled him in the possession of it, notwithstanding he was often reduced to the greatest hazard of his life, and his advancement to the kingdom seemed, according to all human probability, almost impossible.” Chandler.

Verse 5

Psalms 30:5. His anger endureth for a moment, &c. Hebrew, רגע באפו חיים ברצונו , regang beappo, chaiim birzono, a moment in his anger; lives in his favour. The duration of his anger is but short; comparatively, but for a moment, but the effects of his favour substantial and durable. Commonly the afflictions which he sends on his people are of short continuance; and last but a small part of their lives: but he heaps his favours upon them for the greatest part of their present lives, and in the next life which endures for ever; of which the Chaldee paraphrast expounds this passage. And, indeed, without the consideration of eternal life, the difference between the duration of the afflictions and of the prosperous and comfortable condition of God’s people, is neither so evident nor so considerable as David here represents it. Weeping may endure for a night Hebrew, In the evening weeping will lodge with us. Its stay will be short, like that of a guest who only lodges with us for a night: but joy cometh in the morning לבקר רנה , laboker rinnah, for the morning there is singing: joy comes speedily, and in due season. Thus the Lord says to his church by his prophet, For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee: In a little wrath I hid myself from thee, for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, Isaiah 54:7-8. If weeping continue for a night, and it be a wearisome night; yet, as sure as the light of the morning returns, after the darkness of the night, so sure will joy and comfort return in a short time, and in due time, to the people of God; for the covenant of grace is as firm as the covenant of the day. This word has often been exactly fulfilled to us: the grievance has soon vanished, and the grief has passed away. The tokens of his displeasure have been removed; he has lifted up the light of his countenance upon us, and the return of his favour has been as life from the dead. In this sense also, in his favour is life; it is the life, or lives of the soul, spiritual life here and eternal life hereafter. These poetical descriptions of the shortness of God’s anger, and the permanent effects of his favour, are further illustrated in the following verses by the psalmist’s own example.

Verses 6-7

Psalms 30:6-7. In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved I thought myself past all danger of further changes. The word שׁלוי , shalvi, rendered prosperity, denotes peace and tranquillity, arising from an affluent, prosperous condition. When God had settled him quietly on the throne, he thought his troubles were over, and that he should enjoy uninterrupted happiness; that God had placed him secure from all dangers, as though he had taken refuge in an inaccessible mountain, that he had made his prosperity firm, and no more subject to alteration than a mountain is liable to be removed out of its place. By thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong Thou hast firmly settled me in my kingdom, which he calls his mountain, 1st, Because kingdoms are usually called mountains in the prophetical writings, a mountain, by its height, being a very natural representation of a superior condition. 2d, With allusion to mount Zion, the fortress of which he had lately taken, which was properly his mountain, as he had fixed upon it for his dwelling, and had there built his royal palace. All this he regarded as the effect of God’s favour to him, and promised himself that his peace and happiness, for the future, would be as undisturbed and unshaken as mount Zion itself. Thou didst hide thy face Displeased with my presumption, and the security I had fondly promised myself, thou didst withdraw thy favour, protection, and help; and I was troubled My dream of uninterrupted tranquillity vanished; I was quickly brought into fresh troubles, difficulties, and dangers, and saw the vanity of all my carnal confidences. Dr. Chandler thinks he refers to the two invasions of the Philistines, which happened soon after they found he had been anointed king over Israel, 2 Samuel 5:17. But, perhaps, he speaks chiefly, if not only, of distress of mind arising from a sense of God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance, and showing that he was displeased with him. In this unexpected distress he cried unto the Lord, and in his supplication expressed himself as in the following verses.

Verse 9

Psalms 30:9. What profit is there in my blood In my violent, or immature death? What advantage will it be to thee, or thy cause and people, or to any of mankind? When I go down to the pit When I die, and my body is laid in the grave; shall the dust praise thee? The words, thus pointed, have a propriety and force which do not immediately appear in the common version. “The psalmist expostulates with God, that the suffering him to fall by the sword of the enemy,” or to be cut off in any other way in the beginning of his reign, “would be of no benefit to his people, nor to the cause of religion; as he would hereby be prevented from publicly celebrating the praises of God, and making those regulations in the solemnities of his worship, which he purposed to make, if God should spare his life and give him the victory.” Chandler and Dodd.

Verse 11

Psalms 30:11. Thou hast turned for me, &c. Having related his prayer, he now declares the gracious answer which God gave him. Thou hast put off my sackcloth Hast given me occasion to put it off, alluding to the sackcloth which they used to wear in times of mourning, and with which possibly, in an humble compliance with the divine providence, David had clothed himself, in his distress; or, perhaps, he speaks figuratively, and only means that God had taken away his sorrow with the causes of it. And girded me with gladness Either with garments of gladness, or rejoicing: or with joy, as with a garment, surrounding me on every side; as Psalms 18:32, for a similar reason he is said to be girded with strength.

Verse 12

Psalms 30:12. To the end that my glory My soul, or rather, my tongue; for to the tongue both singing and silence most properly belong; may sing praise to thee May bear testimony to thy truth and faithfulness, manifested in fulfilling thy promises, and may ascribe to thee the glory and praise due to thy infinite perfections.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 30". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/psalms-30.html. 1857.