God’s Triumph over Death: Psalm 30

Psalm 30 (NIV)

I will exalt you, Lord,
    for you lifted me out of the depths
    and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
    and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
    you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
    praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning.

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

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This is a psalm of David expressing thanksgiving for God’s deliverance: “I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths” (v. 1). He praises the Lord because his prayers have been heard and he has been healed. The surprise of the psalm comes in verse 3 when David says, “O Lord, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit.” David was speaking metaphorically, since in his many battles he must have had several close encounters with death, but had not yet descended into the grave.

However, the deeper voice of the psalm is that of Christ himself. He cried to God for rescue, and God heard him and brought him up from the grave! This is the great message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which this psalm prefigures. The women were weeping on Friday and yet found the joy of resurrection on Easter—a joy that had never been felt before. As the psalm declares, “weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (v. 5).

One of the defining identity markers for Christians is that we are resurrection people. This means that we understand that God always has the last word. Whatever difficulty you may be facing, we know that, in Christ, he has “turned [your] wailing into dancing; [he has] removed [your] sackcloth and clothed [you] with joy” (v. 11). Even during Lent the church refused to fast on Sunday because Sunday is the day of resurrection. (For our non-liturgical readers, Lent is the forty days before Easter, not counting Sundays.) Even in our darkest hours, we are still the people of the risen Lord. No circumstance in your life can change the great fact that the tomb is empty and Jesus Christ is alive. His victory is now our victory, so we can now give him “thanks forever” (v. 12).

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