Continuing onwardFor this week, I thought that we could look at Psalm 30.
The heading for this psalm is a little ambiguous, because it is literally 'A dedication song for the house'. While it is tempting to suggest that this was used at the opening of the Temple for worship during either Solomon's reign (approximately 960 BCE) or the rebuilding after the Exile (516 BCE) the meaning of 'the house' need not mean 'the Temple'. It is possible that it was originally a blessing for a home, although the content seems a bit odd if that is so. Anyway....
An opening of great joy and relief. Being 'drawn out' could be linked to imagery of a well, or of a pit. Either way, the psalmist is raised up and is in the daylight, rather than hidden from it. His enemies cannot rejoice over him, because God has raised him above them.
verses 2 & 3
The psalmist gives thanks for healing from a sickness that he thought could lead to death, healing that came solely because he called on the Lord. 'You brought up my soul from Sheol' is interesting, because it implies that he had been so sick he was already dead until God saved him. Is this resuscitation or resurrection? It is hard to tell.
verses 4 & 5
The nature of the psalm changes from being a personal thanksgiving, to a communal act of praise. It reminds the congregation that God is both dangerous and generous, and that mourning need not be eternal. Joy comes as light returns to the world.
verses 6 - 8
A false sense of security and invincibility will always lead to disaster, and the psalmist has experienced exactly that. He attributes his illness to God turning away from him, and he knows that it is only God who can restore his fortunes. Therefore he will 'plead for mercy'.
Not so much pleading as blackmailing God! If God doesn't bring him back from the brink, he will no longer be praised, so it is divine self-interest to provide the healing. Not a very devout approach, but a very human one.
Far more suitable, one might think. He does plead, asking to be in that close relationship he previously had with God. 'Be my helper', indeed.
verses 11 & 12
He returns to acknowledging that God has saved him, and promises to give the Lord his praise thereafter.
In our contextThe fear of illness and dying is a constant within the human experience, even when death itself may hold no threat. We find ourselves in a time when that is intensified, to such an extent that it has interrupted our normal social interactions and our joining in worship alongside each other.
We can't blackmail God, but we can both plead and praise!
Just as the psalmist was aware of the dangers of a false sense of security, so we have become aware of the vulnerability of a society that held the myth of progress dear. If we can't rely on advances in medicine and the other sciences to safeguard us, are we as safe as we thought we were.
We are simple humans, dependent upon God and otherwise striving as best we may. Miracles happen every day although we cannot dictate what they will be or whom they will happen to.
We hope and we pray, for those are the answers that we have. We work and we study, for those can provide answers as well.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures for ever.