This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to preach and lead the service at Oviedo Presbyterian Churchwhere I am an intern pastor – of course Cari helped as well in leading the congregation through the prayer of confession, words of assurance, first Scripture lesson and confession of faith. The text, Psalm 30, comes out of the lectionary for this coming Sunday, and it is the text I will use this Sunday while interviewing in New Jersey. And because a preacher can never include everything that he has learned from his time in the study, I will include some of the information here.
On literary structure: here is a document that I quickly put together showing the structure of the Psalm, literary structure of Psalm 30. The psalm opens with praising God for deliverance, which is actually the end of the story – this is confusing for people like myself who like things to flow logically, but poetry does not necessarily follow the rules of narrative. So naturally the question would be, “What was David delivered from?” And it is at verse 6 that David begins to answer that question; it is here that the story finally begins.
First, he shows the reader his sin. Apparently, David was at rest from all of his enemies, maybe refering to 2 Samuel 7:1, and instead of continuing to thank and praise the Lord for “shalom” – literal word for prosperity in vs. 6- he begins to think that it is by his hands that he had established himself. Then, in verse 7 he instructs the listener what is wrong with that statement; the Lord is the one who gives and takes away; He is the one who establishes, not man.
Now, I won’t go further into the story line of the text; I don’t want to ruin the sermon for those that may hear it this Sunday. Instead, it would be helpful to understand the superscript. That is, why this psalm would be read at the dedication of the Temple, or of the palace, depending on what historical circumstance you would like to place it in. (A side note: commentators are uncertain what exact event of strife David is referring to. And since we don’t know exactly which event David is referring to it is hard to determine whether or not he has designated it for the dedication of the palace or the Temple. Also, the word for house, palace and temple is the same in Hebrew. If it is used in relation to you or me it would be referring to our house, or in relation to a king then a palace, or to a god then temple.) This psalm would instruct the king, in either case it would be Solomon, to learn from David’s sin and put his trust in the Lord, thanking and praising Him at all times, in peace and prosperity. Because it is only by His hand that the king would be established as a strong mountain.
Not only is this psalm instructing the king, and us as well, to continually be in thanksgiving to the Lord, in good and bad, but it is properly instructing us as God’s children how to repent. And if and when we repent and turn to the Lord, He is faithful and just and will “turn our mourning into dancing and our sackcloth into clothes of joy.”
There is much more in this text, and I could easily use it for a month of sermons. So my next post, probably tomorrow, will be on the imagery of the psalm and maybe clarify or give fuller meaning to some of the words.