IN this blog I am continuing my translation and re-reading of the first book of Psalms (1-41)
PSALM 30 A psalm and song at the dedication of the house: for David
I will uplift you in praise, Lord
For you have raised me up
And have not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I asked and you restore me:
You have drawn up my life from Death,
You have revived me from my descent to the Pit.
You faithful ones, sing to the Lord
And give thanks when you remember his holiness!
For his anger is the blink of an eye
But his goodwill is lifelong;
Weeping stays over for the night
But joy arrives in the morning.
Yes, in my prosperity I said,
“I shall never be shaken.
Lord, by your goodwill you have made me stand
As firm as a mountain.”
Then you hid your face and I trembled.
Lord, I cried out to you
From the Lord God I looked for pity:
“What booty for you is my blood
If I descend to the Pit?
Will the dust give you thanks?
Will it declare your faithfulness?
Listen, Lord, and be good to me,
Be my defender!”
Oh now you have turned my dirge into dancing
You have removed my sackcloth
And clothed me with festivity;
So that my honour may sing to you
and not fall silent.
Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
( translated emmock 2015)
The structure of this psalm which begins and ends with praise to the God who helps in time of trouble, while placing the trouble and the help in the middle section, says something about the expectation of the speaker, with regard to the life of faith: the faithful person should not expect that God will give uninterrupted good fortune. A mixture of good and bad fortune is presented as usual in the life of a God- fearing person. This is a deeper faith than one which expects unmixed blessings.
In fact the nature of God’s blessing is that it rescues his people from the Pit. The pattern of life under this God’s favour is beautifully summed up in the words:
his anger is the blink of an eye/ but his goodwill is lifelong; weeping stays over for a night/ but joy arrives in the morning
To imagine that one’s life is secure against this alteration is presumptuous; taking one’s prosperity for granted is an arrogance which will be shaken by events. The bad fortune is ascribed to the lord “hiding his face” a phrase drawn from court life, meaning the refusal of royal favour. In the psalms and the prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible these words are used to acknowledge that God permits both natural chaos and human wrongdoing. Sometimes God’s inattention may be attributed to one’s own sin; at other times, there appears to be no reason for it: it is what God does. This is a sophisticated theology which accepts, as does the book of Genesis, that chaos is not destroyed by God but rather incorporated in the structure of the cosmos. The waters of chaos still exist above and below the earth, the darkness balances the day.
Although God permits the trouble, his/her primary and overriding function is to rescue. One could put it more pointedly: only because God permits trouble can he be known as rescuer, saviour and defender.
For this reason God’s human partner can remind him/her that the partnership which God also enjoys will not exist if he allows the chaos to go too far: dead people are poor partners, so God better get on with his rescue!
There is realism and humour as well as trust in the partnership depicted by this psalm. It offers a helpful model of faith.