The subtitle of this psalm is “Psalm for the Dedication of the Temple”. It is a psalm of David, and speaks of David’s experience. Solomon used this psalm at the dedication of the Temple. The background of this psalm is the census undertaken by David in 1 Chronicles 21. David had won all his victories because the Lord fought his battles, but in his prosperity he seemed to think that it was his great army of soldiers that won his wars. So he told the reluctant Joab, his commander-in-chief, to undertake the census of all his men of war. David had become proud, and forgotten God.
Moses predicted this about Israel in Deut 32.15 when he prophesied that ‘Jeshurun (Israel) waxed fat and kicked’. Pride also came to another king, Uzziah. In his prosperity his heart was lifted up and he transgressed, 2 Chron 26.16.
As a punishment or chastening of his pride, David had to undergo a great plague in which 70,000 were killed. David was brought to repentance. He and his elders wore sackcloth and interceded for Israel, and God heard their prayer. God told David to built the Temple on the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. The temple was built by Solomon and it came up on the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. David paid a large price to obtain the site for the Temple. This means that we too must pay a price if we wish to worship the Lord. God’s house is built on the foundation of the Cross. God demands a broken and contrite people to worship Him. Only in brokenness (coming to the threshing-floor) can we come to understand God.
Let us look at the psalm. It is divided into six parts. Part 1 (vv 1-3); part 2 (v 4); part 3 (v 5); part 4 (vv 6-7); part 5 (vv 8-10) and part 6 (vv 11-12). In some Bibles we can see these divisions. Part 1 declares the threefold victory that God gave David – victory over his enemies; victory over sickness; victory over death and the grave. David had gone through these experiences. He knew victory, he knew healing or salvation, and he experienced resurrection. The Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross obtained victory for us over Satan, over sin (spiritual sickness) and over death. But that victory has to become real or subjective in our lives. Only then can we truly worship the Lord.
David offers praise and thanksgiving for that three-fold victory. We too worship the Lord for His great victory on Calvary over sin, Satan and death.
The third part of this psalm speaks of the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. “His anger is but for a moment, his favour is for a lifetime; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” 30:5. We are reminded of the prophet Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 54:7,8. For a brief moment it appears that God has forsaken us, but with great mercies He gathers us. In a little wrath He hides his face from us, but with everlasting kindness He shows mercy to us. This is the Lord our Redeemer. This is the experience of the Cross in a believer’s life; the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. We are reminded of our Lord’s words in John 16.20, where He speaks of weeping and sorrow, but He says, “Your sorrow will be turned to joy.” Isaiah 53 speaks of what Christ has accomplished on the Cross; the great work of atonement of our sins. But Isaiah 54 speaks of the Church going through the experience of the Cross, going through the fellowship of His sufferings. Isaiah 53 is objective; Isaiah 54 is subjective. Only by going through the fellowship of His sufferings, can we come to know Christ and truly worship Him in His temple.
(continued in Part 2)