By Rev. Julian Duckworth
Psalm 30: The blessedness of answered prayer
The subtitle for Psalm 30 tells us that it is a song for the dedication of David’s house, and it is presumably a song by David. “David’s house” most likely refers to his palace, rather than his intention to build a temple of the Lord. The temple was built afterwards by Solomon, his son.
David’s song does not mention any building, but focuses entirely on the Lord’s majesty. This psalm describes the various qualities of God which the speaker has personally experienced, both in his joy and in his despair. Each of these experiences contribute to his belief that God has answered his prayers. The opening words succinctly deliver the theme of this psalm: “I will extol you, O Lord, for you have lifted me up” (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 1054).
The second verse continues in this vein, as the speaker states that he was healed by the Lord. In order for the Lord’s healing to take place within us, we must be involved in the process. When we see our evil intentions for what they are, and want to be free of them, the Lord restores us as we work to live differently (see Swedenborg’s work, Divine Providence 281).
Verse 3 presents two images of our despair: the grave and the pit. Being brought up from the grave represents the Lord’s deliverance, and being kept out of the pit is a sign of His protection. During our regeneration, we will experience the Lord’s deliverance and protection on many occasions.
Verses 4 and 5 call for singing and thanks to the Lord, whose anger is momentary, and whose favor is for life. The spiritual meaning here is important: the Lord is never angry with us, even when He seems to be. We might mistakenly perceive the Lord as a vengeful god when, in reality, we are facing the consequences of our own wrongdoings. This passage shows that our hardship is meant to be brief because the Lord focuses on life, and so should we (see Swedenborg’s work, Apocalypse Explained 700).
From verse 6 to 10, the psalm progresses from easy complacency to despair. The speaker senses his increasing disconnect from the Lord’s influence, and cries out in his state of need. In verse 11, the speaker declares that he shall sing praises to the Lord, for He has turned sadness into joy. This concludes with the words: “O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever.”
This final section of the psalm reminds us about the true path of spiritual life. The words of verse 6 (“in my prosperity I said, ‘I shall never be moved’”) imply a sense of self-satisfaction, which is not a heavenly state. As the following verses indicate, a complacent approach to spirituality will only lead us into trouble. The Lord is the one who brings us into the real state of heavenly well-being, where following Him is our sole focus (Arcana Caelestia 8478).