Psalm 30 Sermon From March 2014 Prayer Service - Mourning into Dancing
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Psalm 30 / Ash Wednesday 2014
I will extol You, O LORD, for You have drawn me up
and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O LORD my God, I cried to You for help,
and You have healed me.
O LORD, You have brought up my soul from Sheol;
You restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints,
and give thanks to His holy Name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
and His favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
As for me, I said in my prosperity,
“I shall never be moved.”
By Your favour, O LORD,
You made my mountain stand strong;
You hid your face;
I was dismayed.
To You, O LORD, I cry,
and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“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 merciful to me!
O LORD, be my helper!”
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing Your praise and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever!
(Psalm 30 ESV)
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Have you ever considered writing a letter, or writing something, to be read after your physical death? An official thing like that is found in the writing of a will. Before going to Israel Michelle and I made sure we had our affairs in order and while putting together the will I made sure that built right into the beginning of the will itself was wording that expressed my Christian faith and when my Physical death comes it will be read to my family.
Now when we come up to the front on a night like Ash Wednesday and we receive the ash upon our heads and we hear the words "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return" we are confronted with our mortality - the fact that we our bodies will die - but looking forward to the promises of Easter we can also look forward to our immortality in Christ, the fact that we have life in Him: Psalm 30 will help us think about this.
King David wrote Psalm 30 near the end of his earthly life, near the time of his physical death, to be used in the Temple at its dedication. So at the time of the dedication of the finished Temple these were the words of a physically dead man written for the living children of Israel celebrating at the Temple. There were people that day who would have participated in singing these words together.
Scripture says that David prepared for his coming death and that following his final instructions to his son Solomon "David slept with his fathers." This is a little like when we say that someone has passed away. David's advice to Solomon was part of his preparations for death, Psalm 30 is also a part of that preparation. King David knows that he will be physically dead by the time of the dedication of the temple, and much of the Psalm is reflective of the help the LORD gave David in his earthly life yet there are these moments in the Psalm where David doesn't talk of himself in the past tense, David speaks of himself in the present tense. "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!" With these words David confesses his hope for the future, a future that would be realized in part, for him personally, by the time of the dedication of the Temple. David's Son, King Solomon the one who did finally build the Temple that David had - with God's Help - prepared for, wrote in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes that, "the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." What Solomon's father, King David, here in Psalm 30 is saying is, that for the one who trusts in the LORD, that returning to God, either in daily repentance or at the time of physical death, is not mournful but full of dancing; this returning is not one where the faithful wear sackcloth but rather they are clothed with gladness, it is not silent but full of singing. Psalm 30 looks with faith to the day when in the "glory" of King David, David's thankful praise of the LORD God will go on forever. Psalm 30 doesn't look forward to death with sadness, psalm 30 looks into the face of death with hope.
With this Psalm David is entering into the celebrations of that day of the dedication of the Temple. We experience a similar sort of thing today when we gather together to worship the LORD in our Services. Many of our prayers and much of our songs have been handed down to us from people who are dead to the world but who are alive in Christ. This Season of lent, during our preaching exchange, in the WASCAN Circuit, each of the sermons will have a hymn thrown into the mix. Some theme hymn that will direct our mediations for this period of time leading to Holy Week and Easter Morning. Psalm 30 is both a prayer and a hymn, wrapped up in it is some good advice from David to you: David says, "Sing praises to the LORD, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy name." And why? Because, " [The LORD 's] anger is but for a moment, and His favour is for a lifetime." In other words "The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love."
In Lent and Easter, as through the whole unfolding calendar of the church year, we think on the different aspects of God's love for us in Christ Jesus. Lent can be a time where we think on Christ's willingness to face and defeat death and on our life of repentances lived in the forgiveness provided by Jesus. Such a life is also called "the righteousness of Christ," it's what Jesus clothes you in at your baptism when you are washed as white as snow with the blood of the Lamb which Jesus shed at the cross for you and I. This, by the way, is the "glory" of King David. King David's glory is not found in his personal works in life but in Jesus' personal works worked for David. As a young shepherd boy David found glory in the eyes of the people when he contended with Goliath and won the day but it was not David who won the day, it was the LORD'S victory, in fact David that day even said, that "the battle is the LORD'S" that The LORD would give Goliath into David's hands. So when David says to God in Psalm 30 "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing Your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever!" What David is saying is that his "Glory" is the glory of the LORD, which we know is the Glory of Christ Jesus; David's glory, and your glory, is the righteousness given to Him, given to you, by Jesus.
After His resurrection, on that first Easter Sunday, Jesus said to His disciples that "the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms" all spoke of Him and what "must be fulfilled,” what was fulfilled at the cross and the empty tomb. What then does Psalm 30 tell us about Jesus' death and resurrection? In the Acts of the Apostles when Paul spoke to the Jewish people in the Synagogue at Antioch. He said to them, "we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this [God] has fulfilled to us, their children, by raising Jesus," ... "And as for the fact that [God] raised [Jesus] from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “‘I will give You the holy and sure blessings of David.’ Therefore he says also in another psalm, “‘You will not let Your Holy One see corruption.’" Paul continues saying, "For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but [Jesus] whom God raised up did not see corruption."
From this we can see that God raised Jesus from the dead, now listen to the opening words of Psalm 30, not just as David's words of thanks to God for help in times of trouble but as prophetic words, listen to them as a prayer in the mouth of Jesus, a prayer that in Jesus' resurrection becomes our prayer too.
"I will extol You, O LORD, for You have drawn Me up
and have not let My foes rejoice over Me.
O LORD My God, I cried to You for help,
and You have healed Me.
O LORD, You have brought up my soul from [the dead];
You restored Me to life from among those who go down to the pit."
Because Jesus didn't remain dead, neither will you, because Jesus didn't remain dead neither will King David. Because God raised Jesus, you too will be raised up. Jesus says "I Am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die."
The visible mark of the cross you received today is a witness to Christ's time on the cross, as He won eternal life and brought forth your eternal forgiveness, when your righteousness sprung forth from His side and covered the sin of Adam and the sins of your own hands. You'll go home tonight and you'll wipe it off, but through the season of Lent you'll think of the cross of Christ, and what He did for you there, in that place: You'll meditate on it, this is what we do in the season of Lent.
King David writes in Psalm 30, "By Your favour, O LORD, You made My mountain stand strong;" and we think of the place of the Skull, Golgotha, which is mount Calvary the place of the crucifixion of our LORD, the mountain upon which Jesus swallowed up death forever.
King David writes in Psalm 30, "You hid Your face; I was dismayed. To You, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy:" and we hear Jesus call out from the cross “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” and we remember how the innocent Jesus called "out with a loud voice, [saying], “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” And having said this He breathed His last."
King David writes in Psalm 30 “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?" and we remember the words of Saint Paul who says that "if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain" and "If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied." Yet Christ has been raised up and because of His resurrection God will be praised, and is praised, and at the dedication of the Temple God was praised for this resurrection in advance of it's happening.
King David writes in Psalm 30 "Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to Me! O LORD, be My helper!” and we know that God was merciful to Jesus when God raised Jesus from the dead on Easter and this is now our hope. What's more King David writing this Psalm for the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem puts Jesus at the centre of that day. The place which would see so much sacrificial animal blood poured out for the forgiveness of sin was bathed in these words of Psalm 30 which prophetically spoke of Jesus and His sacrificial death upon the cross: Words that are full of the hope of the resurrection of the dead unto life everlasting. From the day of its dedication Jesus was enthroned at the Temple just as He had been enthroned in the Tabernacle tent in David's day going right back to the time of Moses, and by God's grace David points in Psalm 30 to the coming Christ as the eternal model of God's mercy, help and love. King David who is dead to the world, but who is alive in Christ brings these words to you today as we begin our path to the cross and the empty tomb in this the season of Lent 2014. The LORD is your help, His mercy is yours in Christ Jesus, Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.