A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of David
1 I will extol Thee, O LORD: for Thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.
2 O LORD my God, I cried unto Thee, and Thou hast healed me.
3 O LORD, Thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.
5 For His anger endureth but a moment: in His favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
6 And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.
7 LORD, by Thy favour Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: Thou didst hide Thy face, and I was troubled.
8 I cried to Thee, O LORD: and unto the LORD I made supplication.
9 What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise Thee? shall it declare Thy truth?
10 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be Thou my helper.
11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness:
12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto Thee for ever.
As we look back and see God’s hand on us as we walk through the mountains and valleys of life, we give thanks.
The Christian life is filled with changes, moving from tragedy to triumph, from humiliation to exaltation. God uses each bend in the pathway of life to teach us to trust in Him, that we may fix our eyes upon Him instead of on our own trials and triumphs. As we look over the paths we have traversed, we recall that the dark valleys were comparatively short segments in the journey. Yes, there were periods of weeping. But the weeping is nothing compared to the joy of God’s salvation, His presence, and His healing hand on our lives. For the man of faith, memories will elicit joy and make him feel like dancing.
Verses 1–3. This psalm represents an intensely personal testimony in which David relates his appreciation for God’s hand in his life. In words of praise, David attributes both his successes and triumphs to God as their Author. Every time we have been healed from the flu or the chicken pox, every time we have overcome some enemy, spiritual or physical, we must attribute it to the hand of God. He is the One who has raised us up. He is the One who has healed us again and again. And most importantly, He has saved us from the threat of eternal hell, the flaming pit of eternal destruction.
Have you ever prayed to God for healing when you were sick in bed and then a day or two later you were healed? But how do you know it was God that did the healing? Could we not attribute the healing to the natural processes of the body’s immune system? When God answers our prayers, it is easy to forget our prayers and forget the God who really did answer the prayers. But worship must involve a good memory. So David remembers the goodness of God and His every answer to his prayers, and gives God the praise.
Verses 4–5. Now the Psalmist encourages the whole congregation to join him in this song. In worship we gather to remember God’s name, as reflected in His works and His character. If you can’t remember anything that God has done in your life and in the history of the church of Christ, it is doubtful that your heart could ever warm to thanksgiving.
God’s “emotions” towards us range from anger to favor. Evidently, David has some memory of God’s chastisement, as all of us do. For whenever we suffer through severe trials, we face what one poet called “a frowning providence.” But this time of holy “anger” is but for a moment in comparison to the sweet renewal of fellowship we experience as we are received back into His favor. The Christian is constantly sensitive to the state of his relationship with God, even as a son who lives with his father is usually aware of the condition of that relationship. We are sons and we are chastened because we are sons. These times of trial occur when the sun of His favor is removed from us and darkness reigns in our spirit for a time. Nevertheless, these times of weeping are short because our Father loves us and He will make certain that the sun of hope will once again shine as the morning dawns.
Verses 6–10. Now David gives the specific details of the trial that took him through the valley of God’s displeasure. For the believer, these experiences are as familiar as the appearances of dusk and dawn every twelve hours or so. It begins as he walks in the bright sunshine through the green meadow of God’s favor. There, he is aware of his prosperous condition. Things are going well for him and he could hardly think that anything could ever go wrong. Admittedly, he is still aware that God is the source of his prosperity and strength. But what precipitates this fall is an unholy confidence that his condition cannot change. We must always remember that our lot is always in God’s hand and He can change the condition of our circumstances anytime He wishes to do so—and He does not need to give us the reason for His actions.
Thus, David moves from favor with God to a more distant relationship, described in terms of God hiding His face from His servant. Even as our communion with our earthly fathers or spouses can be closer or more distant, our relation with God is similarly variable. Moreover, our relationship in respect to God determines the condition of our lives. As we lose God’s presence, we will lose His favor, and as we lose His favor, we will find ourselves in increasingly desperate straits. That is nothing short of devastating for the believer. So David cried out to the Lord for renewed communion and deliverance. He produces a strong, poetic appeal: “How would my death glorify You? How can something reduced to dust declare your truth and praise Your name?”
Verses 11–12. As David cries out to God for His mercy, Yahweh answers his prayer in the final verses of the psalm. Not only does God restore His presence, but He removes David’s sackcloth or “weeping clothes,” and fits him with “clothes of gladness.” Here we learn that the joy or sadness of a Christian is not so much tied to his circumstances, as it is to his perception of his relationship with God. As he realizes the renewal of God’s favor, his sentiment shifts from mourning to dancing. Of all the outward expressions of a lightness of heart, the most joyous is dancing! When things are going well and there is nothing to worry about, it is common for men to break into a dance of joy. Such is the case with the Psalmist.
All of these changing circumstances, as we move from mourning to dancing, from the state of humiliation to exaltation, all of this is working towards one purpose—that God be praised and His glory shine even brighter. And each year of our lives, as God leads us through these valleys and over the mountain tops, the desire to praise only grows and our thanksgiving resounds even louder to God’s glory. One day our lives will culminate in an eternal song of thanksgiving for God’s infinite grace that took us from death unto eternal life.
Life has its ups and downs. The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that the Christian will not interpret his life apart from his relationship with God. The ups and downs of life are merely a measure of our relationship with God. We must keep our hearts humble and our eyes fixed on God. If that be the case with us, then trials will never sink us into the gall of bitterness. Rather, they will soften our hearts and bring us back to God as the only source of our comfort and deliverance.
How does this psalm teach us to worship God?
This is the psalm to sing after we have seen deliverance from our trials and a renewal of communion with God. It may be a good psalm to sing after we have enjoyed communion at the Lord’s Table.
1. Give two examples of Thanksgiving psalms.
2. How does this psalm characterize the typical Christian life?
3. What two emotions does God express in relation to His children?
4. Give two examples of Praise psalms.
5. Which psalm begins with, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God”?
6. Name an acrostic psalm on Deliverance.
1. What are some memories that would inspire thanksgiving in your heart?
2. It is also appropriate for Christians to express joy and thanksgiving before the Lord. Have you ever danced before the Lord? How do you express your thanksgiving?