Psalm 301NIV New International Version Translations
1 I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. 2 O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. 3 O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit. 4 Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name. 5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. 6 When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” 7 O LORD, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed. 8 To you, O LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: 9 “What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? 10 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help.” 11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12 that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.
We do not know when David wrote Psalm 30. Perhaps he had been very ill. He asked God to make him well again and God did. Perhaps all his people, the Jews, were ill: after they prayed, they all became well again.
We do not know why Psalm 30 was “a song for blessing the house”. We do know that the Jews used it when they cleaned the house of God in Jerusalem, about 200 years before Jesus came to earth. That was after a very bad man called Antiochus Epiphanes had polluted it. Polluted in this sense means “made it dirty in the eyes of God”. Antiochus was a Greek ruler. He wanted to stop the Jews worshipping God. “Worshipping” means “telling someone how much you love them because they are so great”. Antiochus thought that he was a god. He thought that people should worship him.
The Jews also used Psalm 31 in the “Feast of Tabernacles”. This was a party they held every October when they picked the fruits. For a few days they lived in tents made from animal skins. So they remembered that they had lived in tents after they came out from Egypt, more than 1000 years before. They also remembered that God had fed them then.
This Psalm celebrates when God answers us after we pray to him.
Verses 1 – 5: David was very ill. He thought that he was going to die. He prayed to God. God made him well again. David did not go to Sheol where he would not be able to praise God. So he asks everyone that believes in God to praise God with him. God was angry for a short time, but now he is not angry with David.
Verse 6 – 7: David thought that he had made himself safe. God used his illness to show David that this was not true. It was only God that made David safe. “The mountain” is a strange word here. Perhaps it means the life that David built up; or it may mean the mountain in Jerusalem where David put the house of God. This was a tent which we call the Tabernacle.
Verses 8 – 10: David tells us what he said when he prayed to God. The Pit is a part of Sheol. The Jews thought that only the very bad people went there. They never came out.
Verses 11 – 12: David is now very happy. “Sad clothes” in Hebrew is “sackcloth”. Sackcloth was used to make bags for carrying things in. It did not make good clothes. The Jews wore sackcloth when they were very, very sad. “My heart will sing” means that everything in me wants to praise God.
Items for Discussion
- Where do you think our attitudes come from that cause us to segregate items into ones which are polluted and those which are clean?
- Why do some have a sense for cleanliness and some no concern (think physical cleanliness here)?
- How do you feel when someone cleans up after you?
- How is the attribute of humility fostered by the act of wearing sack cloth?
- Have you ever associated a problem to God’s desire to get your attention?
- How would praising God help restore our sense of cleanliness?
11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” 14 Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea[a] and the surrounding country.
Luke wrote two books of the New Testament (NT). Luke’s Gospel tells the story of the life and work of Jesus. Luke’s second book, Acts, continues the story after Jesus went back to heaven. The two books amount to a quarter of the NT. This is even more than Paul wrote.
Luke was a doctor (Colossians 4:14). He was often Paul’s companion in his travels. The book of Acts contains passages in which the author includes himself as a companion of Paul (‘we’ in Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16). Luke shared Paul’s work (Philemon, verse 24). He was a loyal friend. In prison, Paul says, ‘only Luke is with me’ (2 Timothy 4:11).
Luke was a Gentile. He came from Antioch, which was an important town in Syria.
Verse 12 – Nain was a town with a wall round it. Jesus arrived at the gate in the wall. The widow had no other members of her family. Her son had provided her income and he protected her. He could not do that anymore because her son was now dead. Her family would not continue. Now, her husband was dead and her son was dead. She probably doubted whether God loved her. The large crowd with her was showing its sympathy for the death of her son.
Verse 14 – When Jesus touched the coffin he made himself ‘unclean’. Nobody had asked Jesus to help. Jesus acted because he had a lot of love.
Verse 15 – When the young man spoke everyone knew that he had come back to life. Jesus gave an order. That order defeated death, at once and completely.
Verse 16 – The crowd recognised that Jesus had used God’s power. So they called him ‘a great prophet’. They were perhaps thinking of Elijah and Elisha. These two prophets of the past had also made dead people come back to life (1 Kings 17:17-23; 2 Kings 4:17-37)
Items for Discussion
- Jesus chose a helpless widow and a small town for this act. Would a miracle in Jerusalem in a public place with an important person been more effective for establishing His authority?
- Where do you think the idea of touching a coffin would make you unclean comes from (think of more the personal point of views rather than Jewish law)?
- How is the heart of the widow different than the heart of a rich person?
- How did Jesus save two lives here?
- Where do we fall short in this world in following Jesus’ lead of helping the helpless?
- How do we create a sense of mission in the body of the church?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations