Psalm 30 is categorized as a Psalm of Thanks. Psalm 30, and the other Psalms of Thanks, are often invoked when one finds themselves on the other side of a time of darkness, trial, tribulation or sickness. For example...
Think of the last time you were really sick. Really sick as in you had the flu or other bug that would not let you out of the bed. For all intensive purposes you were at your weakest state of being and could not imagine what it was like to feel normal again.
Now try to remember what is was like a couple days later when you felt like yourself once again. All the signs of sickness are still around you (the tissues next to the bed, the cough medicine on the counter, the dishes piled up in the sink because you did not have enough energy to clean them) and you realize you were really in a low spot. You are now feeling better and a sense of gratitude and Thanks comes over you. This is the perspective of Psalm 30.
Psalms of Thanks, like Psalms of Lament, follow a pattern. The author starts with words of thanks, then proceeds to tell of the trial, tribulation, sickness or other darkness. The author will then share the prayer that was invoked requesting God's help and then tell how God provided deliverance, healing or relief. The pattern always concludes with more words of Thanks.
What is probably the most special part of Psalms of Thanks is knowing the author has fresh perspective on life.
There is a story of Jesus traveling to Jerusalem when he is stopped by ten lepers on the outskirts of a village. They call out for mercy and Jesus encourages them to be on their way healed of their leprosy. Finding themselves made clean, they start to run off, but one turns around and gives Jesus thanks.
Leprosy is a disease that does not show itself right away. Someone could contract leprosy and not see symptoms from anywhere between 5 and 20 years. Most likely these ten lepers had a "normal life" before they got sick.
Once the signs of leprosy became visible, the individual would be forced out of the community and into a leper colony. The "normal life" they once a had is now very much over.
Jesus changes everything. Once the ten lepers realize they can return to a "normal life" they run off with excitement. Then, one of the ten has the same realization as the authors of the Psalms of Thanks: the darkness is gone and now there is a "new life". The man's perspective on life will never be the same. He can return to family and friends with a sense of gratitude and appreciation he never had before. His heart is full of thanks.
Can you think of a time you came out of a deep darkness, trial, tribulation, sickness and your perspective on "normal life" was changed? What comes to mind for you? If you like, try writing your own Psalm of Thanks using the pattern: words of thanks, the story, prayers offered (if you did not offer a prayer - did someone pray for you), the deliverance and words of thanks once again.
Lastly, how did the experience change your perspective on life?
Psalm 30 (NRSV)
Thanksgiving for Recovery from Grave Illness
1 I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,
and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
3 O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.
4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment;
his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
6 As for me, I said in my prosperity,
“I shall never be moved.”
7 By your favor, O Lord,
you had established me as a strong mountain;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.
8 To you, O Lord, I cried,
and to the Lord I made supplication:
9 “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?
10 Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!
O Lord, be my helper!”
11 You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth
and clothed me with joy,
12 so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.