In my posts about psalms of thanksgiving so far, I have used the example of Psalm 30 and quoted some verses from that psalm. But, let’s have a good look at the whole psalm, which has so much to teach us. In fact, Longman suggests that, “As we turn to this thanksgiving psalm, we need to realize that we are at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. It surprises us to realize this. We sometimes think that what makes Christians different from non-Christians [or maybe, so-called ‘athiests’] is that we know that God exists. Certainly that’s crucial, but Romans 1:19-21 teaches us that everyone knows God [“…what may be known about God is plain…For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – has been clearly seen…so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him…”]. Strikingly, Paul here tells us that the real difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that the former gives thanks to God…With this in mind, read this thanksgiving psalm of David.” (see references # 1)
The following is from “The Passion Translation – The Psalms – Poetry on Fire” by Dr Brian Simmons (Broadsheet 2014). If you are interested in this translation go to http://www.thepassiontranslation.com/
King David’s poetic praise to God
A song for the Feast of Dedication of the dwelling place
1 Lord, I will exalt you and lift you high, For you have lifted me up on high! Over all my boasting, gloating enemies, you made me to triumph. 2 O Lord, my healing God, I cried out for a miracle and you healed me! 3 You brought me back from the brink of death, from the depths below. Now, here I am, alive and well, fully restored! 4 O sing and make melody, you steadfast lovers of God, Give thanks to him every time you reflect on his holiness! 5 I’ve learnt that his anger is short-lived, but his loving favour lasts a lifetime! We may weep through the night, But at daybreak it will turn into shouts of ecstatic joy. 6-7 I remember boasting, “I’ve got it made! Nothing can stop me now! I’m God’s favoured one; he’s made me steady as a mountain!” But then suddenly, you hid your face from me. I was panic-stricken and became so depressed. 8 Still I cried out to you, Lord God, I shouted out for mercy, saying: 9 “What would you gain in my death, if I were to go down To the depths of darkness? Will a grave sing your song? How could death’s dust declare your faithfulness?” 10 So hear me now, Lord, show me your famous mercy. O God, be my Saviour and rescue me! 11 Then he broke through and transformed all my wailing Into a whirling dance of ecstatic praise! He has torn the veil and lifted from me The sad heaviness of mourning. He wrapped me in the glory-garments of gladness. 12 How could I be silent when it’s time to praise you? Now my heart sings out loud, bursting with joy – A bliss inside that keeps me singing, “I can never thank you enough!”
A remarkably intimate prayer. A friend of mine suggests that reading the Psalms is like reading someone’s personal journal and this psalm is no exception.
Here David commences with praise to God for his miracle of healing (1-3); then exhortation to other ‘steadfast lovers of God’ to also praise the Lord (4-5); followed by a recognition of the foolishness of ‘boasting’ in one’s own abilities (6-7); and a lament to God for him to ‘show…your famous mercy…and rescue me” (8-10) and finally thanksgiving to God for graciously transforming his life from “wailing into…ecstatic praise” (11-12). As previously mentioned, this is a psalm that moves from orientation (6-7a), to dis-orientation (7b-10), to new orientation (11-12).
There is no doubt in this psalm who deserves to receive both the praise and the thanks. It is “the Lord”, Yahweh, the One to whom the psalmist initially credits the following action verbs when he says, “you…lifted me up on high” (1); “you healed me” (2); “you brought me back from…death” (3) and “you brought me…from the depths below” (3). Then later, in verse 11, he again celebrates “the decisive transforming actions of Yahweh” (Brueggemann). He says, you “broke through and transformed” and to Yahweh he concludes, “I can never thank you enough!” (12)
Because we are purposely left in the dark as to the circumstances of the psalmist’s dilemma and just how God delivered him and turned things around, we can make this psalm our own when we find ourselves in a similar situation. May we too recognize God’s “decisive transforming actions” in our lives as we call to him for help, and then when he answers our prayer, do what we are called to do as followers of Jesus, and that is, “give thanks to him” (Romans 1).