I Will Praise You Lord

Scripture Reading

I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.

Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.

“Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.”
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
(Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13)

Scripture Study

30:1–3. The entire canticle reflects a thanksgiving liturgy in the temple after recovery from an illness that threatened the psalmist’s life.

30:4–5. The range of focus of the previous verses is extended by noticing how God acts: his “favor” far exceeds his “anger” (v. 5; cf. Is 54:7–8).

30:6–10. Divine anger really consists in his “hiding his face”, leaving man on his own (v. 7) when he thinks he can fend for himself (v. 6). The psalmist himself experienced this, but he reacted in time and had recourse to God (vv. 8–10) and put this argument to him—that his death would serve no purpose because if he were to die he could not praise him. Life only makes sense because he can praise the Lord, the source of all good. “If life didn’t have as its aim to give glory to God, it would be detestable—even more, loathsome” (St J. Escrivá, The Way, 783).

30:11–12. “Dancing” and being attired “with goodness”, as against mourning and penance, are external expressions, probably in a liturgical context, of the joy that accompanies praise; a joy that wells up inside “my soul” (literally “glory”, perhaps in the sense of physical health) and then is voiced (v. 12).

In Christian liturgy this psalm is said in the Easter Vigil, after the reading of Isaiah 54:5–14, which proclaims the consolation and rescue of Jerusalem after God had momentarily abandoned it. In this context the psalm reveals its prophetic meaning, insofar as it proclaims what God did when he raised Jesus Christ after he tasted death.[1]

Scripture Reflection

The psalmist’s earlier untroubled life is attributed to the royal pleasure of God. His distress comes when the LORD hides his face. His restoration is a change worked by the LORD. He sees his previous attitude as a mistaken reading of God’s favor, for he said in his self-confidence what should be said only in complete dependence on God: “I shall never be moved.”  Now he sees his life as a vocation of thanksgiving to the LORD. Correlating the course of life so directly with the sovereignty of God is, of course, risky. All sorts of distortions and misreadings are possible. But there is a strong faith in the providence of God here. Prayer and praise, if they are to be authentic and vigorous, must have actual life as their subject and not hover carefully in generalities above the earth. Life must be experienced in relation to God, sought and received as from the LORD’s hand.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] James Gavigan, Brian McCarthy, and Thomas McGovern, eds., Psalms and the Song of Solomon, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2003), 116–117.