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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Psalms Chapter 30


psa 30:0

Song of Thanksgiving after Recovery from Dangerous Sickness

The summons to praise God which is addressed to the angels above in Psa 29:1-11, is directed in Psa 30:1-12 to the pious here below. There is nothing against the adoption of the לדוד. Hitzig again in this instance finds all kinds of indications of Jeremiah's hand; but the parallels in Jeremiah are echoes of the Psalms, and דלּיתני in Psa 30:2 does not need to be explained of a lowering into a tank or dungeon, it is a metaphorical expression for raising up out of the depths of affliction. Even Hezekiah's song of thanksgiving in Isa 38 has grown out of the two closing strophes of this Psalm under the influence of an intimate acquaintance with the Book of Job. We are therefore warranted in supposing that it is David, who here, having in the midst of the stability of his power come to the verge of the grave, and now being roused from all carnal security, as one who has been rescued, praises the Lord, whom he has made his refuge, and calls upon all the pious to join with him in his song. The Psalm bears the inscription: A Song-Psalm at the Dedication of the House, by David. This has been referred to the dedication of the site of the future Temple, 2 Sam; Ch1 21:1; but although the place of the future Temple together with the altar then erected on it, can be called בּית יהוה (Ch1 22:1), and might also at any rate be called absolutely הבּית (as הר הבית, the Temple hill); yet we know that David did not himself suffer (Sa2 24:17) from the pestilence, which followed as a punishment upon the numbering of the people which he instituted in his arrogant self-magnification. The Psalm, however, also does not contain anything that should point to a dedication of a sanctuary, whether Mount Moriah, or the tabernacle, Sa2 6:17. It might more naturally be referred to the re-consecration of the palace, that was defiled by Absolom, after David's return; but the Psalm mentions some imminent peril, the gracious averting of which does not consist in the turning away of bloodthirsty foes, but in recovery from some sickness that might have proved fatal. Thus then it must be the dedication of the citadel on Zion, the building of which was just completed. From Sa2 5:12 we see that David regarded this building as a pledge of the stability and exaltation of his kingdom; and all that is needed in order to understand the Psalm is, with Aben-Ezra, Flaminius, Crusius, and Vaihinger, to infer from the Psalm itself, that David had been delayed by some severe illness from taking possession of the new building. The situation of Psa 16:1-11 is just like it. The regular official title אשׁר על־הבּית (majordomo) shows, that הבית, used thus absolutely, may denote the palace just as well as the Temple. The lxx which renders it τοῦ ἐγκαινισμοῦ τοῦ οἴκου (τοῦ) Δαυίδ, understands the palace, not the Temple. In the Jewish ritual, Psa 30:1-12 is certainly, as is even stated in the Tractate Sofrim xviii. 2, the Psalm for the feast of Chanucca, or Dedication, which refers to 1 Macc. 4:52ff.

Psalms 30:1

psa 30:1

(Heb.: 30:2-4) The Psalm begins like a hymn. The Piel דּלּה (from דּלה, Arab. dlâ, to hold anything long, loose and pendulous, whether upwards or downwards, conj. V Arab. tdllâ=, to dangle) signifies to lift or draw up, like a bucket (דּלי, Greek ἀντλίον, Latin tollo, tolleno in Festus). The poet himself says what that depth is into which he had sunk and out of which God had drawn him up without his enemies rejoicing over him (לי as in Psa 25:2), i.e., without allowing them the wished for joy at his destruction: he was brought down almost into Hades in consequence of some fatal sickness. חיּה (never: to call into being out of nothing) always means to restore to life that which has apparently or really succumbed to death, or to preserve anything living in life. With this is easily and satisfactorily joined the Kerמ מיּרדי בור (without Makkeph in the correct text), ita ut non descenderem; the infinitive of ירד in this instance following the analogy of the strong verb is ירד, like יבשׁ, ישׁון, and with suffix jordi (like josdi, Job 38:4) or jaaredi, for here it is to be read thus, and not jordi (vid., on Psa 16:1; Psa 86:2).

(Note: The Masora does not place the word under יו וחטפין קמציןאלין תיבותא יתירין ו (Introduction 28b), as one would expect to find it if it were to be read mijordi, and proceeds on the assumption that mijārdi is infinitive like עמדך (read ‛amādcha) Oba 1:11, not participle (Ewald, S. 533).)

The Chethb מיורדי might also be the infinitive, written with Cholem plenum, as an infinitive Gen 32:20, and an imperative Num 23:8, is each pointed with Cholem instead of Kamtez chatuph; but it is probably intended to be read as a participle, מיּורדי: Thou hast revived me from those who sink away into the grave (Psa 28:1), or out of the state of such (cf. Psa 22:22) - a perfectly admissible and pregnant construction.

Psalms 30:4

psa 30:4

(Heb.: 30:5-6) Psa 30:4 call upon all the pious to praise this God, who after a short season of anger is at once and henceforth gracious. Instead of שׁם of Jahve, we find the expression זכר in this instance, as in Psa 97:12 after Exo 3:15. Jahve, by revealing Himself, renders Himself capable of being both named and remembered, and that in the most illustrious manner. The history of redemption is, as it were, an unfolding of the Name of Jahve and at the same time a setting up of a monument, an establishment of a memorial, and in fact the erection of a זכר קדשׁ; because all God's self-attestations, whether in love or in wrath, flow from the sea of light of His holiness. When He manifests Himself to His won love prevails; and wrath is, in relation to them, only a vanishing moment: a moment passes in His anger, a (whole) life in His favour, i.e., the former endures only for a moment, the latter the whole life of a man. "Alles Ding whrt seine Zeit, Gottes Lieb' in Ewigkeit." All things last their season, God's love to all eternity. The preposition בּ does not here, as in the beautiful parallel Isa 54:7., cf. Psa 60:10, denote the time and mode of that which takes place, but the state in which one spends the time. Psa 30:6 portrays the rapidity with which love takes back wrath (cf. Isa 17:14): in the evening weeping takes up its abode with us for the night, but in the morning another guest, viz., רנּה, appears, like a rescuing angel, before whom בּכי disappears. The predicate ילין etaci does not belong to Psa 30:6 as well (Hupfeld, Hitzig). The substantival clause: and in the morning joy = joy is present, depicts the unexpectedness and surprise of the help of Him who sends בכי and רנה.

Psalms 30:6

psa 30:6

(Heb.: 30:7-8) David now relates his experience in detail, beginning with the cause of the chastisement, which he has just undergone. In ואני אמרתּי (as in Psa 31:23; Psa 49:4) he contrasts his former self-confidence, in which (like the רשׁע, Psa 10:6) he thought himself to be immoveable, with the God-ward trust he has now gained in the school of affliction. Instead of confiding in the Giver, he trusted in the gift, as though it had been his own work. It is uncertain, - but it is all the same in the end, - whether שׁלוי is the inflected infinitive שלו of the verb שׁלי (which we adopt in our translation), or the inflected noun שׁלו (שׁלוּ) = שׁלו, after the form שׂחוּ, a swimming, Eze 47:5, = שׁלוה, Jer 22:21. The inevitable consequence of such carnal security, as it is more minutely described in Deu 8:11-18, is some humbling divine chastisement. This intimate connection is expressed by the perfects in Psa 30:8, which represent God's pardon, God's withdrawal of favour, which is brought about by his self-exaltation, and the surprise of his being undeceived, as synchronous. העמיד עז, to set up might is equivalent to: to give it as a lasting possession; cf. Ch2 33:8, which passage is a varied, but not (as Riehm supposes) a corrupted, repetition of Kg2 21:8. It is, therefore, unnecessary, as Hitzig does, to take ל as accusatival and עז as adverbial: in Thy favour hadst Thou made my mountain to stand firm. The mountain is Zion, which is strong by natural position and by the additions of art (Sa2 5:9); and this, as being the castle-hill, is the emblem of the kingdom of David: Jahve had strongly established his kingdom for David, when on account of his trust in himself He made him to feel how all that he was he was only by Him, and without Him he was nothing whatever. The form of the inflexion הררי, instead of הרי = harri, is defended by Gen 14:6 and Jer 17:3 (where it is הררי as if from הרר). The reading להדרי (lxx, Syr.), i.e., to my kingly dignity is a happy substitution; whereas the reading of the Targum להררי, "placed (me) on firm mountains," at once refutes itself by the necessity for supplying "me."

Psalms 30:8

psa 30:8

(Heb.: 30:9-11) Nevertheless he who is thus chastened prayed fervently. The futures in Psa 30:9, standing as they do in the full flow of the narration, have the force of imperfects, of "the present in the past" as the Arabian grammarians call it. From the question "What profit is there (the usual expression for τίὄφελος, quid lucri) in my blood?", it is not to be inferred that David was in danger of death by the hand of a foe; for ותרפאני in Psa 30:3 teaches us very different, "what profit would there be in my blood?" is therefore equivalent to (cf. Job 16:18) what advantage would there be in Thy slaying me before my time? On the contrary God would rob Himself of the praise, which the living one would render to Him, and would so gladly render. His request that his life may be prolonged was not, therefore, for the sake of worldly possessions and enjoyment, but for the glory of God. He feared death as being the end of the praise of God. For beyond the grave there will be no more psalms sung, Psa 6:6. In the Old Testament, Hades was as yet unvanquished, Heaven was not yet opened. In Heaven are the בני אלים, but as yet no blessed בני אדם.

Psalms 30:11

psa 30:11

(Heb.: 30:12-13) In order to express the immediate sequence of the fulfilling of the prayer upon the prayer itself, the otherwise (e.g., Psa 32:5) usual ו of conjunction is omitted; on הפכתּ וגו cf. the echoes in Jer 31:13; Lam 5:15. According to our interpretation of the relation of the Psalm to the events of the time, there is as little reason for thinking of Sa2 6:14 in connection with מחול, as of Ch1 21:16 in connection with שׂקּי. In place of the garment of penitence and mourning (cf. מחגרת שׂק, Isa 3:24) slung round the body (perhaps fastened only with a cord) came a girding up (אזּר, synon. חגר Psa 65:13, whence אזור, חגרה) with joy. The designed result of such a speedy and radical change in his affliction, after it had had the salutary effect of humbling him, was the praise of Jahve: in order that my glory (כּבוד for כּבודי = נפשׁי, as in Psa 7:6; Psa 16:9; Psa 108:2) may sing Thy praises without ceasing (ידּם fut. Kal). And the praise of Jahve for ever is moreover his resolve, just as he vows, and at the same time carries it out, in this Psalm.

Next: Psalms Chapter 31