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Psalm 30 Shows Us God’s Rescuing Power

January 30, 2019

Thankfulness is one of those topics where there’s almost universal agreement, between both Christians and non-Christians, that it’s good to be thankful. Even though we know how important it is to give thanks, we’re still faced with the reality that giving thanks can be hard. 

It’s hard to sort out the good from all of the bad we see in the world. It’s much easier to grumble, complain, or simply lose hope.  We know that we should be thankful, but we’re often left asking the question: How? How can we be thankful people when our world is so broken? 

There is much we can learn from Psalm 30, where we see David giving thanks and praise for God’s rescue. 

God Rescues from Death 

I will extol you, O  Lord, for you have drawn me up 
and have not let my foes  rejoice over me. 
O  Lord  my God, I  cried to you for help, 
  and you have  healed me. 
O  Lord, you have brought up my soul from  Sheol; 
 you restored me to life from among those who  go down to the pit.
(Psalm 30:1-3)

In these first three verses, we see that God has moved in David’s life. We don’t know exactly what has happened, but David speaks powerfully about the work the Lord has done to rescue him. And in speaking about God’s rescue, David emphasizes what he has been rescued from

In verse 3, David twice mentions that if God hadn’t moved, he would be in  the grave.  David is saying, “God’s rescuing work is the  difference between life and death.”

And this is important to point out because it shows that David understands the significance of his rescue.  The good news of God’s rescue is magnified by understanding the bad news. 

In a similar way, as we desire to be thankful people, it’s important for us to think about the spiritual reality of what was true of us without Christ, before God rescued us. The Bible has lots to say about our spiritual reality before Christ.  It says that we were darkened in our understanding, alienated from God, unclean, unrighteous, evil, and hostile towards God.

When we are tempted to get caught up in the circumstances of day-to-day life, this eternal perspective drives us to thankfulness. 

God Rescues into His Eternal Favor 

Sing praises to the  Lord, O you  his saints, 
   and  give thanks to his holy name. 
For his anger is but for a moment, 
and his favor is for a lifetime. 
Weeping may tarry for the night, 
    but  joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:4-5)

Verse 5 mentions God’s anger and the reality of weeping still on this earth. What exactly is this doing in a psalm of thanks? 

This is the reality of living in a fallen world that is tainted by sin. Even as believers, we still receive God’s discipline as he corrects our sinful ways. And we know all too well that weeping will come in this life, suffering is inevitable, and pain is real.  

Yet, David’s focus is on eternity. He knows that God’s anger towards his saints is temporary, but his favor is eternal.  And while weeping may last the night, joy will come with the morning.

In Christ, we have also received God’s eternal favor, on an even greater scale.  We weren’t just close to death, we  were dead  and were brought back to life.  And in this new life, we are promised riches that are  beyond measure because we will be found in Christ.  

We should let this stir our souls to thankfulness, just like David. Even when cynicism seems to rule in our hearts, when we’re tempted to ruminate on our despair, remember that you have been given the free gift of God’s eternal favor.  

The darkness won’t endure. Your  circumstances won’t last forever. God’s promises will.

God Rescues By His Mercy 

As for me, I said in my  prosperity, 
    “I shall never be  moved.” 
By your favor, O  Lord, 
you made my  mountain stand strong; 
you  hid your face; 
    I was  dismayed. 
To you, O  Lord, I cry, 
   and  to the Lord I plead for mercy: 
“What profit is there in my death,  
if I go down to the pit?  
Will  the dust praise you? 
   Will it tell of your faithfulness? 
Hear, O  Lord, and be merciful to me!
   O  Lord, be my helper!”  (Psalm 30:6-10)

David begins to talk about a specific season where he was in need of God’s rescue. David was in a season of prosperity, but instead of giving God the credit, David becomes prideful. And then, God withdrew, leaving David dismayed. 

David does the only thing he knows  how to do. He cries out to God for help.  Though David reasons with God, he knows the only way God will rescue him is by his mercy. 

David knows that his sin is worthy of punishment. It was a rebellion against a holy God, so he deserves to die. And as he recalls God’s rescue in this specific instance, he knows that God has only acted because of his great mercy. 

And this mirrors the same mercy that we have received from God in Christ. In our state of spiritual deadness, we deserved eternal punishment.  But God, being rich in mercy, withheld the punishment that we rightly deserved because Jesus took the punishment on our behalf. 

Let this truth lead you to thankfulness. 

When you feel overwhelmed by sin, let the Holy Spirit lead you to remember God’s great mercy.  Your sins were eternally paid for on the cross.

God’s Rescue Leads to Weighty & Lasting Thankfulness

You have turned for me my mourning into  dancing; 
you have loosed my sackcloth 
   and clothed me with gladness, 
that my  glory may sing your praise and not be silent. 
    O Lord  my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:11-12)

David recalls God’s great rescue, and now, we see the thankfulness that it produces.  His mourning has become dancing. His sackcloth has been exchanged for gladness. 

I want to point out two defining attributes of David’s thankfulness in these verses:

1.) David’s thankfulness is weighty.  This isn’t the kind of thanks that’s given with normal circumstantial changes. In verse 12, David uses the phrase “my glory” to refer to his deepest, innermost being, his soul. This is one of the strongest ways of saying that David understands the gravity of his rescue.

2.) David’s thankfulness is lasting. David ends Psalm 30 by saying , “I will give thanks to you forever!” His thanks won’t end tomorrow, it won’t end in a year, it won’t even end on the last day of his life. It will go on for eternity. 

As you reflect on how to give weighty and lasting thanks to God in a dark world, don’t miss how closely David’s rescue mirrors how Christ rescued you. 

God rescued you from death by sending Jesus to die in your place. God rescued you into his eternal favor by freely giving you Christ’s righteousness.

And God rescued you by his mercy because of his great love for you.

Photo Credit: Unsplash


The Author
Danny Russell

Danny is a church planting resident with Unlocking the Bible, partnering with Evanston Bible Fellowship to plant a church in the Chicago area.

Learn more about Danny.



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