Preacher: “I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me. “
Seeker: The psalmist seems to have gotten himself into a lot of difficult situations.
Preacher: That is both an astute and surprising comment. Many people would agree but for most that would not have been a typical response.
Seeker: “O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.“ Was he just unlucky in life?
Preacher: “O LORD, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.” Maybe the psalmist was an overly dramatic person. Prone to giving large voice to small dilemmas. I have known and counseled with people like that.
Seeker: “Sing praises to the LORD, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.” The psalmist does praise and worship the Lord quite often too. That is an admirable trait.
Preacher: “For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” We also, Seeker, need to consider that the psalm passages may have been written by more than one person. It may be that this was distress, and praise, that was expressed over the lifetime of more than one person.
Seeker: “As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” Let’s take a pause here. I have heard this verse from this psalm more than a few times. It means that the psalmist said at one time that his good fortune was so good that he never thought that there would be problems. Seems to me with a perspective and temperament like that, misfortune and ill-fate would be seen as a major disaster. Those unprepared for hard times are very likely to have difficulty getting over it. And just might lead to long, loud, and frequent bouts verbal dismay – like those we hear from the psalmist. He might not have ever seen the hard times coming. Not even at the second or third that time came upon him.
Preacher: I think you are on to something here, Seeker. “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?”
Seeker: You encourage me, Preacher, to think about this more. The psalmist, in the beginning, was slow to realize a great truth; one that some Christians never seem to understand. Let me explain more; it seems like some Christians believe that belief in the Divine will protect them from misfortune. When in fact belief is designed to give you hope to get through hard times. And to have faith that one is never alone. They see their faith as a golden ticket to get through life unscathed. But there never was that magical golden ticket. However those who clearly see and understand what faith in the Divine will do, see blessing even in adversity. I think the psalmist did eventually realize this.
Preacher: Yes, by the end of the psalm the psalmist talks about this exact realization. “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)
Seeker: Imagine – in the space of a psalm comes such wisdom. I suspect now that the psalmist is not only a man of prose, but a teacher of wisdom! Shalom & Selah!