July 5, 2020
Daybreak: Psalms 30:1 through 32:11
“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.” (Psalm 32:8-9)
When Papa rode into the yard on Old Jim, a dapple-gray horse, my siblings and I thought he had finally lost his mind. Unlike Papa’s earlier equine purchases, this animal was clearly past his prime. However, my father loved horses, and he had saved this one from the glue factory to live out his last days in comfort and pleasure on our farm.
Old Jim quickly became a part of the family, and we children loved to ride him; he seemed to know we were young and was very careful with us. My ten-year-old brother, being the oldest of the five of us, would lead Jim next to a stump that stood in the front yard, and we would all pile onto his back. Then our gentle giant would slowly plod around the yard as each of us, entertained by our imaginations, rode in rodeos, roped cattle on a round-up, or entered the bronco-busting arena. We were happy. We would holler, “Yippie ki-yi,” and swing imaginary ropes at phantom cows for an hour without growing weary.
When Old Jim got bored and tired of the games and the noise, he would head to the backyard and carefully but firmly dump us into a howling heap on the ground. He would then stand there with his eyes closed. Old he may have been, but that horse had a mind of his own!
We chuckle at the thought of a horse with a mindset. However, in our focus verses we are admonished not to be stubborn like a horse or mule that must be forced to go in the right direction by the control of a bit or bridle. As children of God, we should be led by the Spirit of God and be responsive to His teachings. He is faithful to instruct us, but we must be willing to submit and follow His leading.
God watches over us and is concerned about each step we take. He will never lead us in a wrong direction. Let us be pliable, teachable, and willing to follow.
The superscription of Psalm 30 indicates that it was sung during the dedication of a house of David. There were two instances in which David dedicated a house: after the building of his palace (2 Samuel 5:11) and at the return of the Ark of the Covenant from the house of Obed-edom to the Tabernacle (1 Chronicles 16:1-7). This psalm could have been written for either of these two occasions.
It is also possible that the subtitle was added to the already existing psalm at the time of the dedication of the Temple built by King Solomon. This psalm and the Temple have a connecting thread. Some Bible scholars suggest that Psalm 30 may have been written by David after God halted the plague at the threshing floor of Araunah (see 2 Samuel 24:15). The threshing floor later became the site of King Solomon’s Temple. If this setting is accepted, David’s description of healing in verses 2-3 would refer to the plague that came upon the Children of Israel as a result of his sin of numbering the people; David’s healing would have been the removal of that plague.
Other commentators suggest that the psalm is David’s personal expression of praise for divine healing following a crisis of physical sickness. Whatever the case, the dire nature of the psalmist’s condition is apparent in the strength of his language. He felt his soul had been on the verge of death. “The pit” in verse 3 was translated from a word that is a common synonym for Sheol, the place of the dead. As the psalmist expressed gratitude for the divine touch, he cited the lesson learned: while sorrow and distress may last temporarily, ultimately God restores (verse 5). Though prosperity had made him self-confident, David had realized the folly of his ways and had cried unto the Lord, who brought deliverance.
As often occurs in the psalms, David moved from prayer and praise to expectation, concluding this song by contrasting “mourning” and “sackcloth” to “dancing” and “gladness,” and expressing his desire to give thanks to God “for ever.”
Psalm 31 is dedicated to the chief Musician and is ascribed to David in the title. A prayer for deliverance from the effects of slander and a murderous plot, the psalm may have been written at the time of David’s escape from the treacherous men of Keilah (see 1 Samuel 23), or during the rebellion of Absalom. As a result of the plot against him, described as a “net that they have laid privily for me” (verse 4), David experienced grief and fear, and this affected him both spiritually and physically. His words alternate between lament and praise.
David’s allusion to “lying vanities” in verse 6 refers to idols. “Vanity” is a common Old Testament name for false gods.
Verses 9-13 describe the crisis David faced, and the despair he felt as a result. Verse 10 seems to indicate that a sense of guilt contributed to the psalmist’s distress; he may have been reflecting back to the time of his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:4-17). In verses 14-18, however, David affirmed his confidence in God and committed his case to Him. Verses 19-24 are an expression of praise, and a concluding call to the “saints” to love God and be of good courage.
Psalm 32 is the second of the seven poems identified as penitential psalms; it relates closely to Psalm 51. The superscription Maschil, which means “to instruct,” indicates that it was a meditation designed to teach. The theme of the psalm is the joy of forgiveness; it is a lesson in salvation based upon David’s own experience.
The word translated transgression in verse 1 is the strongest and most serious of Old Testament words used to indicate personal wrongdoing; the inherent meaning is “rebellion” against divine authority. The word sin (in Hebrew, chattah) means “missing the mark,” while iniquity (avon) refers to depravity or the distortion of morals.
When God forgives transgressions, the literal meaning is that He “bears” or “carries away” the sin. The word “covered” implies that sin is purposefully hidden or concealed by God (not by personal effort) as one would cover up something repulsive or offensive to one’s sight. The phrase “imputeth not” means guilt is not charged or placed on the account of the doer; God has absolved it by His grace.
The phrase “when I kept silence” (verse 3) refers to a state of unrepentance, or refusal to confess. The result was that the writer was depleted both physically and mentally, and the hand of God was “heavy” upon him — he felt the convicting hand of God. The only cure was confession, which is described in verse 5.
In verses 8-11, the psalmist assumed the role of instructor, admonishing his hearers to follow the guiding of God. The psalm concludes with an encouragement for the righteous to rejoice and shout for joy.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
- What two actions in David’s song of instruction in Psalm 32 brought forgiveness for sin?
- How does the behavior differ between people who attribute their prosperity to God and those who attribute it to themselves?
- David’s final exhortation in Psalm 31 was to “be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart.” What are some ways we can help others to have courage when they face life’s challenges?
We want to be sensitive to God’s instruction, and quick to obey His leadings.