Psalm 30:6-12

As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”

By your favor, O Lord, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication:

“What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!”

You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever. Psalm 30:6-12

The first line in this portion of Psalm 30 is quite revealing. It captures two potentially dangerous aspects of how we tend to think about God, and respond to God, in our lives. First, we (like pretty much all people down through the ages) tend to equate personal prosperity with God’s gracious favor. The danger here is that we run the risk of reducing our gratitude to God for all times to only crediting God with the good times. If we add our own hard work and intelligence to the formula then we end up with the prosperity gospel and we’ve shaken the dust of Jesus off of our feet and gone our own way.

And second, we fail to see the potential idolatry of our prosperity.

The Psalmist understands how we think and resists our efforts to go there. The reality is that hard times come, prosperity isn’t our salvation, and the bigger we are (in our own minds), the harder we fall (when things no longer go our way.) The Psalmist describes such moments in several ways, here he says that God “hid your face.”

And how do we respond? Our prayer becomes a negotiation with God. What good does it do if we fail? What profit is there in your cause, O God, if I die?

Again today we pray for the men and women who will leave their houses and apartments, drive to the station house, suit up, meet with their supervisors, and then head out to the street for the purpose of serving and protecting society. Some of those they serve will greet them with respect, feeling the comfort of their presence. Others will cringe inside when they see those cars turn down their street. Many will worry that today will be another day that God hides God’s face.

I once asked the patrol sergeant who I rode with through the night, “How do you handle the idea that something bad might happen to you on duty?” Not surprisingly, his response was both fatalistic and faithful, “I figure, if its my time, then its my time, and there isn’t much that I can do about it. That’s all up to God.”

There is no negotiation in that. There is no relying on “God will show me special favor because I’ve been a good boy.” This is not the prosperity gospel – look at my many blessings and see there how God has rewarded me. No, this is good old fashioned “take up your cross and follow me” discipleship. Doing what you do for the sake of the world with the willingness to suffer whatever might come your way along the way.

There are times when it feels like God has hidden God’s face from our sight…but looking back, isn’t it far more likely that we no longer see God’s face because WE have turned our backs on God? God is still there, always ready to turn our mourning into dancing; taking off our sackclothes and clothing us with joy, so that our souls may praise you and not be silent.”

Let us pray: Today, Lord, is a new day. It is another day. May today be a day when we submit our wills to your will, that we might do our part in the world for the common good of all. Protect those who serve and protect others. Draw near to the grieving, to those in despair, to those struggling with fear, with anger, with regret. May we not, even when times are good, turn our backs on you. May we, in all things and all times, know your presence and the redemptive power of your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


One Response to “Psalm 30:6-12”

  1. Carolee Says:

    I am so happy to know that God wants a relationship with me. And that I can talk to him in prayer and He will guide me and answer me.

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