Psalms 30

I will praise you, O Lord, for you lifted me up,
Elsewhere the verb דָּלָה (dalah) is used of drawing water from a well (Exod 2:16, 19; Prov 20:5). The psalmist was trapped in the pit leading to Sheol (see v. 3), but the Lord hoisted him up. The Piel stem is used here, perhaps suggesting special exertion on the Lord’s part.

and did not allow my enemies to gloat
Or “rejoice.”
over me.
O Lord my God,
I cried out to you and you healed me.
You healed me. Apparently the psalmist was plagued by a serious illness that threatened his life. See Ps 41.

O Lord, you pulled me
Or “my life.”
up from Sheol;
you rescued me from among those descending into the grave.
Heb “you kept me alive from those descending into the pit.” The Hebrew noun בוֹר (bor, “pit, cistern”) is sometimes used of the grave and/or the realm of the dead. The translation follows the consonantal Hebrew text (Kethib); the marginal reading (Qere) has, “you kept me alive so that I did not go down into the pit.”

Sing to the Lord, you faithful followers
A “faithful follower” (חָסִיד) is one who does what is right in God’s eyes and remains faithful to God (see Pss 4:3; 12:1; 16:10; 31:23; 37:28; 86:2; 97:10).
of his;
give thanks to his holy name.
Heb “to his holy remembrance.” The noun זֵכֵר (zekher, “remembrance”) here refers to the name of the Lord as invoked in liturgy and praise. Cf. Pss 6:5; 97:12.The Lord’s “name” is “holy” in the sense that it is a reminder of his uniqueness and greatness.

For his anger lasts only a brief moment,
and his good favor restores one’s life.
Heb “for [there is] a moment in his anger, [but] life in his favor.” Because of the parallelism with “moment,” some understand חַיִּים (khayyim) in a quantitative sense: “lifetime” (cf. NIV, NRSV). However, the immediate context, which emphasizes deliverance from death (see v. 3), suggests that חַיִּים has a qualitative sense: “physical life” or even “prosperous life” (cf. NEB “in his favour there is life”).

One may experience sorrow during the night,
but joy arrives in the morning.
Heb “in the evening weeping comes to lodge, but at morning a shout of joy.” “Weeping” is personified here as a traveler who lodges with one temporarily.

In my self-confidence I said,
“I will never be upended.”
In my self-confidence I said… Here the psalmist begins to fill in the background of the crisis referred to in the earlier verses. He had been arrogant and self-confident, so the Lord withdrew his protection and allowed trouble to invade his life (vv. 8–11).

O Lord, in your good favor you made me secure.
Heb “in your good favor you caused to stand for my mountain strength.” Apparently this means “you established strength for my mountain” (“mountain” in this case representing his rule, which would be centered on Mt. Zion) or “you established strength as my mountain” (“mountain” in this case being a metaphor for security).

Then you rejected me
Heb “you hid your face.” The idiom “hide the face” can mean “ignore” (see Pss 10:11; 13:1; 51:9) or, as here, carry the stronger idea of “reject” (see Ps 88:14).
and I was terrified.
To you, O Lord, I cried out;
I begged the Lord for mercy:
The prefixed verbal forms in v. 8 are probably preterites; the psalmist recalls that he prayed in his time of crisis.

The following two verses (vv. 9–10) contain the prayer (or an excerpt of the prayer) that the psalmist offered to the Lord during his crisis.
profit is there in taking my life,
Heb “What profit [is there] in my blood?” “Blood” here represents his life.

in my descending into the Pit?
The Hebrew term שָׁחַת (shakhat, “pit”) is often used as a title for Sheol (see Pss 16:10; 49:9; 55:24; 103:4).

Can the dust of the grave
Heb “dust.” The words “of the grave” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
praise you?
Can it declare your loyalty?
The rhetorical questions anticipate the answer, “Of course not!”
According to the OT, those who descend into the realm of death/Sheol are cut off from God’s mighty deeds and from the worshiping covenant community that experiences divine intervention (Pss 6:5; 88:10–12; Isa 38:18). In his effort to elicit a positive divine response, the psalmist reminds God that he will receive no praise or glory if he allows the psalmist to die. Dead men do not praise God!

10  Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me!
O Lord, deliver me!”
Heb “be a helper to me.”

11  Then you turned my lament into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and covered me with joy.
Covered me with joy. “Joy” probably stands metonymically for festive attire here.

So now
Heb “so that”; or “in order that.”
my heart
Heb “glory.” Some view כָבוֹד (khavod, “glory”) here as a metonymy for man’s inner being (see BDB 459 s.v. II כָּבוֹד 5), but it is preferable to emend the form to כְּבֵדִי (kevediy, “my liver”). Like the heart, the liver is viewed as the seat of one’s emotions. See also Pss 16:9; 57:9; 108:1, as well as H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, 64, and M. Dahood, Psalms (AB), 1:90. For an Ugaritic example of the heart/liver as the source of joy, see G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 47–48: “her [Anat’s] liver swelled with laughter, her heart was filled with joy, the liver of Anat with triumph.” “Heart” is used in the translation above for the sake of English idiom; the expression “my liver sings” would seem odd indeed to the modern reader.
will sing to you and not be silent;
O Lord my God, I will always
Or “forever.”
give thanks to you.

Psalm 31

Psalm 31. The psalmist confidently asks the Lord to protect him. Enemies threaten him and even his friends have abandoned him, but he looks to the Lord for vindication. In vv. 19–24, which were apparently written after the Lord answered the prayer of vv. 1–18, the psalmist thanks the Lord for delivering him.

For the music director; a psalm of David.

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