Learning to Praise
Samuel Lesson #230
September 15, 2020
“Father, we come to You because we know that You are the eternal Creator God of the universe, that You rule over all things, and as part of Your ruling, You give Your creatures volition. You give us the ability to choose our destiny, to choose how we live our lives, and Father, as a result of that and sinful rebellion, this world is in a terrible mess, but it always has been. It’s not as bad as it has been at some times, and it is definitely worse for some people and some believers in some areas than it has been in their lifetimes or in perhaps a few hundred years.
“Father, we pray especially for our nation at this time. It seems like the last two or three elections have been crossroads, but these are significant times. We are in a battle for the very soul of this country. The foundation of this country was on the Judeo-Christian worldview, and Father we know that that has been eroded especially over the last century, and we know that that is the only way that we will maintain stability and peace. We are to pray according to 1 Timothy 2:1–3, for peace; we are to pray for our leaders, that we might have a stable economy, a stable government, that we may have an environment wherein we can faithfully teach Your Word and evangelize without worrying about government resistance and oppression, without worrying about people attacking us and demonstrating.
“Father, we pray that You might continue to give us a stable government, give us people who understand the importance of law and order and the need to educate people according to the truth of history and the truth of Your Word. So, we pray for our nation and for our leaders, for our president, for all our representatives. We pray for each one that they might come to understand the truth and live out their political lives in light of that truth.
“And Father we pray for us as we study Your Word tonight. May we come to understand what it means to praise You, to talk about You with gratitude and thankfulness for all that You’ve done for us, and we pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Psalm 30. Tonight is a transition lesson. It will be a transition because we will spend probably two weeks, maybe three, but we will spend two weeks at least on Psalm 30. The reason we’re going to Psalm 30 is because it is the natural consequence of the end of 2 Samuel, which we concluded last time. In 2 Samuel 24, after David is forgiven by God for his sin of arrogance and self-sufficiency, and the nation is forgiven by God for the sin of self-sufficiency and arrogance, God forgives them, and David offers a sacrifice of praise. It’s a burnt offering and a peace offering on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, and that’s what we studied last time at the end of 2 Samuel.
Then what David does is he is preparing his son Solomon and the people for the construction of a temple that will be built on that site on what we now call the Temple Mount. It’s Mount Moriah where Abraham had gone in obedience to God to sacrifice his son, which God stayed his hand and taught him a spiritual lesson, but it is that same location where the temple is built.
So, David does many, many things in preparation for the temple, and one of the things he did was he wrote Psalm 30 as the dedication psalm that would be sung at the dedication of the temple. Basically, all Solomon was going to have to do is come along and follow the directions and put all the pieces together because David had already done everything. So, the focus in Psalm 30 is that it is a praise psalm, and so we’re going to be learning what it means to praise God.
To get the context, I wanted to go back and just review the last four verses in 2 Samuel 24:22–25. Remember the context: David had committed the sin of arrogance and self-sufficiency in that he wanted to number the people. It wasn’t just the census, it’s his motivation—a right thing done for a wrong reason is wrong. David is doing something that is not in and of itself sinful, but he did it out of pride to see how great his army would be that he could field even though all of his enemies had been defeated and the nation is now living in a time of peace and there were no enemies left to fight.
He’d been given victory by God over all the enemies, and he’s now moved from the tests of adversity, which had characterized much of his life, to the test of prosperity, and he fails. He gets prideful, and so does the nation; they relax. They’re not dependent upon the Lord, and so they are resting and looking around saying, “Look at everything that we have done,” and God brought a plague upon the nation. Actually, He was going to discipline the nation: He gave David three options. David didn’t choose one of the three options; he said, “I’m going to put it in Your hands, God. You pick the one, and I’m going to depend upon Your grace.” And God chose the three days of the plague. This was a horrific situation and 70,000 of the men who were of the warrior class died in that plague. So, that’s the background.
God leads David up onto the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Remember it was the Jebusites who originally inhabited the city of Salem that we know today as Jerusalem, and it was known as Jebus. The people who lived there were the Jebusites, and Araunah is obviously a believer. It’s just another example of how, in Israel, they assimilated foreigners.
Even to this day, Israel has a fantastic program of assimilating those who make aliyah, that’s the Hebrew word for immigration. They immigrate to Israel, and if they come from a country that is advanced, an industrial country, and they are educated, it’s not as much of an education as an assimilation process, but they have a lot that come from any of the Arab countries and from other areas in the Soviet Union and places like that, Ethiopia where they haven’t received much education and they don’t know anything about speaking Hebrew, they don’t speak English—English is commonly spoken in Israel—so they live for a year in an assimilation camp.
They are well taken care of, and they are taught Hebrew, so that at the end of the year, they can be fluent in Hebrew, and function in Hebrew, and read Hebrew and read un-pointed Hebrew— which means there are no vowels in the language, just consonants—so they learn all of that. They learn a skill; they learn a trade; they learn how to enter into the culture and to make the beliefs of the culture their beliefs. That is what immigrants should do. Otherwise, it creates a problem like you have in the Balkans where there is much division. They have a lot of people maintaining their ethnic beliefs there, their heritage from whatever country they’re from, and they don’t assimilate into a country.
We’ve been seeing this as a real problem throughout Western Europe and throughout the United States. There needs to be this kind of an assimilation, and it’s not racist, and it’s not arrogant, and it’s not any of the horrible things that those who want to destroy America claim it is because how you destroy any country is by an invasion. When you have a lot of people coming in from another country and not learning the language, not assimilating into the heritage and the culture of the people of the nation, then they basically become a second state within a state. And you have many other states within the state, and so this is not the way to create a homogeneous society, and that’s what’s necessary.
It doesn’t mean everybody thinks the same or believes the same; it doesn’t mean you can’t have liberals versus conservatives, because we’ve always had those different beliefs, but it means that everybody has an understanding of what makes America “America,” and they are all in favor of that. If you don’t have that, if you don’t have that commonality, it’s like what the prophet Amos wrote: [Amos 3:3] “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” It’s impossible for two people to work toward a common goal if they’re not in agreement on the goal. If one wants to go in one direction and the other wants to go in the other direction, they can’t pull together to accomplish the task.
Here is Araunah. He’s a Jebusite; he’s been assimilated into the nation; he is a believer. He is adopted like David’s great grandmother Ruth, who was a Moabitess, and she then after her husband dies and her father-in-law dies, and her brother-in-law dies, she is going to be loyal to her mother-in-law, Naomi. And she says, [Ruth 1:16] “Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” That should be part of the oath of immigration: that they will adopt the heritage, the culture, the background, the religious framework of the country that they’re going into.
So, Araunah is clearly a believer, and he says to David when David is up there—David wants to build an altar and sacrifice to the Lord, and Araunah is very grace-oriented and offers everything to David. He will give him the animals for the sacrifice; he will give him all the implements that he needs in order to sacrifice the animal and to offer the burnt offering, all of the wood, everything—he says, [2 Samuel 24:22] “Look, here are oxen for burnt sacrifice—after you kill the animal on the altar, then you light a fire and everything is burned up; it goes up to God. It’s called a holocaust offering because everything is burned and goes up in smoke ascending to God because you’re offering everything to God that is His in thankfulness to Him—threshing implements and the yokes of the oxen for wood.”
So, David doesn’t have to do anything. [2 Samuel 24:23] “ ‘All of these, O king, Araunah has given to the King,’ and Araunah said to the king, ‘May the Lord your God, accept you.’ ” No, he’s not saying he’s not his God, but he’s emphasizing that to David: This Yahweh, your God and may He accept your offering.
Then David says to Araunah, [2 Samuel 24:24] “ ‘No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price—David recognizes that he’s not going to offer a sacrifice that doesn’t cost him anything; that just doesn’t work. A sacrifice costs you something. It’s inherent in the language, and so he’s not going to take from Araunah what he needs for a sacrifice to God and he says—nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.’ ” It is for my sin and for the sins of the people, and it won’t work if it costs me nothing. [2 Samuel 24:24] “So, David bought the threshing floor—that whole area that is on the top of Mount Moriah. Today, the Temple Mount and the wall around that are about 23 acres—So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.”
In 2 Samuel 24:25, we read, “And David built there an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.” Now the burnt offerings are necessary: First you have your sin offering and then your burnt offering as you’re offering everything to God, and the peace offering recognizes that you’ve been restored to fellowship with God, and the meat from the peace offering is distributed to all the people around so that they have this meal that is provided by this sacrifice.
The peace offerings talk about the peace that you now have with God because you have been forgiven, you have been cleansed and there has been a restoration of fellowship. And in the last part of the verse [2 Samuel 24:25] it says, “So the Lord heeded—listened to, responded to—the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel.” The picture here doesn’t say this specifically, but God does this before the three days are finished, so this is an act of grace where He restrains His discipline on the nation due to the fact that David has humbled himself, the people have humbled themselves, and this national sacrifice has taken place. That is the framework for understanding Psalm 30.
In Psalm 30, as we go to the beginning, we read in the superscription at the beginning, and this is part of the original, inspired text, that this is a psalm—and the way it’s translated in the New King James Version is really awkward. Many times, I have talked to you about the importance of where you place your punctuation. There’s no punctuation in the Hebrew, but it’s indicated by the prepositions.
The best way to have translated this if they’re going to do it that way, is: “A Psalm. A Song at the dedication of the house, by David.” He is the author of the psalm. That would be the correct way. The New American Standard Bible translates it this way: “A Psalm; a Song at the dedication of the house.”
So, we’re going to look at what that describes, but many times in the Scriptures and in the psalms, the temple is referred to not by the normal word for “the temple” which is heykal, but by the word, bayit, which is the word for house. The dedication of the house is not a reference to David’s palace, but to the house of the Lord, the temple. Notice, it punctuates it with a period and then says, “A Psalm of David.” The Hebrew construction there is a preposition in the Hebrew, which is prefixed to the word “David,” and it’s used over and over and over again for all the psalms that David wrote. That’s how it designates the author, so it’s called the authorial lamed, that’s just the letter l; that’s the prefix for “to” or “by”, indicating the author of something.
The other verse that we see that is significant in understanding this is that in Psalm 30:6, David talks about what his sin was. And it says, “Now in my prosperity—which is not the best translation. The word is in my “ease”; when I had it easy; when there were no problems—I said, ‘Nothing can touch me.’ ” That’s a paraphrase of what he said: “Nothing can touch me. Look at what I’ve done. I’ve secured the kingdom, I’ve built all of this,” and he’s leaving God out of the equation. This is not just a sin of arrogance on his part but it’s a sin of arrogance and self-sufficiency on the whole nation. The nation, as a whole, failed the test of prosperity, and the historical reality is, is that no nation in history has passed the test of prosperity. Very few human beings ever pass the test of prosperity because as soon as we start thinking that, “well, I don’t have any problems anymore, and look at what I’ve done,” then God is going to bring discipline into our lives.
We have to recognize that everything that we are, everything that we have, no matter how much work we may have put into something, it’s God that gave the increase; it’s God that used that. I can’t tell you how many people in this country have worked hard, have gotten great educations and great abilities and they’ve never accomplished anything for a lot of different reasons. But God keeps a lot of people down because He knows that if they were made prosperous, then they would completely forget about Him. So, this is something that is extremely important.
As we get ready to look at this psalm, the first thing I want to do is to mention a couple of things before we get into it. In the first three verses, David is going to talk about his praise to God. He is going to then explain why he is praising God. The way he praises God is interesting. He’s not using the words, “I praise God,” “Hallelujah,” or praising God using the word hallel, which is the primary word for praise.
He says, [Psalm 30:1] “I will extol You.” What we see is the primary root of extol, which means, “I’m going to elevate You. I’m going to lift you up. I’m going to make You the focus of attention.” It has as its root meaning, “lifting you up.” He says, “I will extol You, O Lord, for You have—and then the next word is a different word; it doesn’t have the primary meaning of being lifted up, but that’s the idea. So, he first talks about “I’m going to lift You up, God, because You lifted me up.” We miss that word-play the way it’s translated into the English.
Then, he’s going to talk about God; eight times in these twelve verses, he uses the word Yahweh, which is translated in most English Bibles with “small caps” for Lord; that indicates that it has translated Yahweh. Twice, he refers to Yahweh as my Elohim, “my God.” He does that in Psalm 30:2, and then again in Psalm 30:12. There are two times that he talks about Yahweh as his God.
When he uses, Yahweh, remember that this is the name that is most intimately connected with the Mosaic Covenant, and it is a reminder that God is in covenant with the nation. But also by this time, God has given David that personal covenant we studied in 2 Samuel 7, and so it is a reminder that Yahweh is David’s covenant God. He has entered into a covenant with David, that He has promised that He will make David’s name great and that He will make the house of David great, and that it is through David’s line that Messiah will come.
In Psalm 30:3, it doesn’t come through well in the English, but it says, “O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave.” In the Hebrew, that is sheol, so we have to come to understand what that means. How did David use this that he is brought up from sheol, and it is clear from the parallelism that, “You have kept me alive that I should not go down to the pit.”
So, there are two things there: we have seen the language of “You lifted me up, Lord, I’m going to lift You up.” And, “You didn’t let me go down.” So, you have this up and down movement that’s going on there. Then he says that God kept him from going down to the pit, so we’ve got to talk about the meaning of sheol and why that is significant.
And then we come down to his call to the people to sing praise. [Psalm 30:4] “Sing praise to Yahweh, you saints of His,” in verses 4, “and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.” That gets us at the very heart of the idea of praise. It is giving thanks to God in remembering who He is, and what He has done for us. When we think about “at the remembrance of His holy name,” when you look at the idea of His name, that relates to His essence.
And so, we are reminded of things as we go through the psalms, there’s this emphasis on God’s “hallowed name” in the King James Version. In the Disciples’ Prayer, wrongfully called the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew, it says, “hallowed be Thy name.” It’s the same thing: let Your name be set apart or sanctified; let Your character be highlighted. This is a theme that runs all through Scripture.
Then it reaches a high point in this opening introduction where he says, [Psalm 30:5] “For His anger is for but a moment”—and notice in the English that “is but for” is in italics, which means it doesn’t have a Hebrew equivalent. David reaches this emotional pitch where he’s excited about what God does, and he says, “His anger, a moment.” He doesn’t mention the verb.
Moments for God can last a long time. Isaiah says that their discipline is going to last for a moment, and it lasted for 70 years when they’re in Babylonian captivity. So, God’s watch moves differently than your watch. So, [Psalm 30:5] “Anger for a moment; grace for a lifetime.” Even though God takes us through discipline and difficult times, on the scale of time and eternity, it’s just a blink. It’s just there for a moment when we compare it to everything. His grace toward us, His goodness, His favor toward us is for life.
Then he has a parallel to that idea, [Psalm 30:5] “Weeping [may endure] for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Anybody who has gone through some really tough times in their life should memorize this verse. This is a tremendous source of comfort to realize that whatever you may be going through right now, as significant and serious and difficult as that may seem right now, it will change.
It might not change before you’re taken to be with the Lord; it depends upon where you are. If you’re early in life, you’ll probably be out of it within a year or two, but if you’re late in life and you have some really difficult tests in your senior years, then the Lord will take you home, and there will be joy everlasting as you’ve never imagined. That is really the centerpiece of this tremendous psalm.
Then, in Psalm 30:6, he begins to talk about his sin. I want to remind you that this isn’t a confession psalm. This isn’t where David is confessing, but in many praise psalms, the psalmist will go back and give a brief summary of the sin and discipline and suffering and how God delivered him from that.
So, he says, “Now in my prosperity [my ease, my self-sufficiency] I said, ‘I shall never be moved.’ ” Then he said, and we’ll have to spend some time on this whenever we get there, [Psalm 30:7] “Lord, by Your favor [by Your grace], You have made my mountain stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled.” That’s powerful, the way it is written in the Hebrew. And then, what’s his response? That’s what comes in Psalm 30:8, “I cried out to You, O Lord; And to the Lord I made supplication;” so it’s prayer, refocus, turn back to God, and then he goes through that and concludes that part of his prayer with the supplication, Psalm 30:10–11: “Listen to me, O Lord; have mercy on me; Lord, [be my ezer], be my helper! You have turned for me my mourning into dancing.” That’s not morning like “good morning;” that’s mourning for grief. [Psalm 30:11] “You turned my grief into dancing;—no matter how dark the times may be, God is the God who transforms your mourning into dancing, taking away all the signs of that grief, the sackcloth—You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.” Then, he concludes at the very end, [Psalm 30:12] “O [Yahweh] Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”
So, he comes to that end. You have the giving of thanks there and you have the giving of thanks back in verse 4. It’s as if that phrase divides this into two sections. So, the focal point is the fact that he is extoling—this is your topical sentence in verse 1; “I will extol You, I will praise You” —what does it mean to praise God? It means, basically, to be thankful for what God has done in intervening in your life and telling others about it. So, we have to learn some of the things that are related to praise, and this psalm is one of two types of psalms that are praise psalms.
The first type is called a “Declarative Praise” psalm, and the second is called a “Descriptive Praise” psalm: two different kinds of praise psalms. A declarative praise is when the psalmist is giving thanks for something specific that God has done. It is a response to some way in which God has intervened in the life of the person, and now they are going to tell us what God did. They’re not going to focus on themselves.
One of the problems we have today is that a lot of people really don’t know how to give thanks to God, and they get up and talk a lot about their problem. You notice, when David writes about this, and he talks about the problem, you don’t see anything there where he says, “You delivered me from the plague.” The plague threatened his life. How many people could get up in church and say, “Thank you, Lord, for delivering me from the plague,” and sing a hymn to that effect? Well, not too many people at all.
See, the psalms are written in a more general sense, so that everybody can understand that just as David’s life was threatened in one way, our lives may be threatened in another way, so we can understand and relate to the message of the psalm. The focal point in a declarative praise is not on the problems I had—Nobody Knows the Problems I’ve Got [Seen] [song by Louis Armstrong]—Nobody knows. We talk about it.
How many times have you been in a Thanksgiving service and people start standing up and talking about all their problems? The psalms don’t focus on the problem, they focus on what God did to solve the problem because the focal point in praise isn’t me. The focal point in praise is all about God; it is all about what God has done.
We need to understand that when there is praise, the praise focuses on God’s act of intervening in our lives. It’s joyful. There’s a sense of enthusiasm and excitement: I was in this situation, the walls were closing in on me—we don’t need to know how the walls were closing in on you ; it could have been health, money, your kids, or your parents, but the walls were closing in on me—and I had no way out, and God intervened in a tremendous way! Then talk about what God did. That puts the focal point on God.
So, praise is in one sense this outburst; there’s language here that relates to that. When you go through the language of praise, it’s this outburst. You can’t restrain yourself; you’re just so excited at what God has done in delivering you. So, praise has that idea of enjoying what God has done so much that we’re talking about it.
If you were to win the lottery—that may be a bad example because; anybody that wins the lottery doesn’t want to talk about it—if something great happens to you, for example, you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and you go into the doctor, and the doctor says, “We can’t find any trace of the cancer,” you’re so excited about it, you’re telling everybody about it because you’re so relieved. It’s part of our occupation with God, our occupation with Christ, that we want to talk about who He is and what He has done.
It’s a combination of being thankful, relieved, and revived because we’ve had this burden—even though we are to [Psalm 55:22] “cast our burdens on the Lord, and He will sustain us”—most of the time, we have a tug of war with God and our burdens: “God, You take it; no, I want it back; “You take it; no, I want it back.” And we go back and forth in this tug of war rather than just saying, “Okay God, I’m putting it on You; I’m casting all my cares upon You. You take care of it, and I’m going to forget about it.” We don’t do that, but that is exactly what we need to do.
So, when we are praising God, we are joyful, we’re enthusiastic, we’re relieved, and above all, it is related to thanks. We are grateful for what God has done. The focus isn’t on our problem, but on God’s intervention and what we learn about God in His intervention. It’s very God-centered, not me-centered. So, praise, in its most fundamental form, is simply telling people what God did in our lives today, or this week, or last week and giving God the glory, giving God all the credit for solving everything, and not getting caught up in telling everybody about all of the detailed promises that we had.
Psalm 30 expresses David’s praise, his reflection on the event which is clearly there, but if you just read through the psalm and you weren’t thinking about 2 Samuel 24, you wouldn’t connect the dots because he doesn’t talk about the plague; he doesn’t talk about how many people were killed; he doesn’t talk about going to the Temple Mount—none of those things. He talks in a broad, general sense, so it can relate to other people.
Remember what happens with David, as we look at the beginning of this psalm, is that David had planned everything for the temple. God revealed the blueprint to him; He revealed the plans to him. David then had the plans, they’re drawn up, it’s given to his son Solomon, and David organizes all of the precious metals that are used, all of the jewels that are used, all of the fabric that’s used, all of the lumber, all of the stone work—everything that goes into it; God had just told him, “You can’t build it.”
So, he puts all of the pieces together, everything gets lined up, gives Solomon the plans. David writes, basically, the hymn book that they will sing in praising God in the temple, and that’s what we have as all of the Davidic psalms. All of this is in preparation, so that when David dies, all Solomon has to do is follow the directions, and put it all together. This is what this psalm is talking about. Now, I just talked about declarative praise, and you have all of the verse references at the bottom of slide 6, and you have all the different psalms that relate to Declarative Praise [Declarative Praise Psalms: 9; 18; 20; 21; 30; 31:7–8, 19–24; 32; 40:1–12; 41; 66:13–20; 92; 106; 107; 116; 118; 138].
When you have descriptive praise, they usually begin with something along the order of praising God, but the focus in a descriptive praise is it just focuses on who God is, and what He has done in the process. When we look at the superscription of Psalm 30, it says, “A song at the dedication of the house of the Lord.”
Here are two verses where “the house of the Lord” using the same language bayit, which is the Hebrew word for “house,” are used. Psalm 23:6, a verse that is familiar to many Christians, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 27:4, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.” This is how God set it up.
Now why was the temple so important? Well, one reason the temple was so important, as we have seen in our panorama of history, is that God’s original intent in the Garden of Eden was to dwell among His people, but because of sin, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden and God had to set up an army of angels to surround the Garden to prevent them from reentering to have access to the Tree of Life.
We see that at the end of time when we go to Revelation 21 and 22, there is a creation of a new heavens and new earth and God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit dwell on the earth with man. We often think, “Well, I’m going to spend eternity in Heaven.” You’ll be awful lonely. We’re not going to spend eternity in Heaven. We spend eternity in the new heavens and the new earth, and God makes His dwelling with us in the new heavens and the new earth. There’s no sun or moon because the light of God’s glory illuminates everything, so it’s a different kind of universe than we have today.
God gave Moses direction for the first place where God dwelt after the Flood. We go from the Flood all the way to Mt. Sinai in Exodus 20 and following, where God is not dwelling on earth with man. He is going to come back and take up His dwelling, but the first thing God has to do is give them instructions.
So, in Exodus chapters 25–30, Moses receives the instructions just as God gave David the blueprint for the temple. God gave Moses the blueprint for the tabernacle; God gives this, and it’s all laid out in those six chapters in Exodus and Moses learns all he needs to know to build the tabernacle in the wilderness.
Then, there is a distinct break in the narrative, and in Exodus 31–34, there’s this horrible rebellion that takes place. Moses is up on Mt. Sinai; he’s still receiving the revelation of the Law, not just the ten commandments but all 613 commandments of the Law, and God says, “What’s that sound I hear? Sounds like the people are getting in trouble.” So, He sends Moses back down to see what the problem is, and then when he comes down, he sees the people are having a big orgy, and they have convinced Aaron to build this golden calf—an idol—and they’re calling that golden calf Yahweh, and saying this is the God that delivered us from Egypt. It’s this horrible rebellion.
God judges the nation at that point; God threatens to completely wipe them out and start all over with Moses, but Moses interceded with God; we’ve studied this. This was partially a test: Moses do you really understand the issue that I’m not really going to destroy them? God is just testing Moses to see if Moses will take a stand as a priest and intercede for the people, which is what Moses did. He intercedes, God gives the Law to them again because Moses had broken the tablets. God gives the law again, He renews the covenant with Israel, and we have forgiveness and restoration.
That’s at the center of understanding the presence of God in the tabernacle and the temple. What we have is a need to have a place where the people could meet God; where there could be forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration—the realization of peace between man and God where there’s this restoration of fellowship. So, the tabernacle is the location for that to happen in what I call, “God’s mobile home,” for the next 300 to 400 years, until you get to where David dedicates the temple and Solomon builds the temple.
The last part of Exodus, in Exodus 35–40, is when the tabernacle is put together. So, you have the directions for building it, then there’s this sin, and then there’s the building of it. Sometimes, we don’t stop and look at the big picture. David gets all the instructions for building the temple, and then there’s this sin of the people that is judged in the plague incident in 2 Samuel 24; then what happens at the beginning of 1 Kings? Solomon begins to build the temple after David dies.
There’s an order there. What we know from reading the episode in Exodus is that Moses is on the mountain, he hears the people having their party, their orgy, below and he comes down. He doesn’t even have all of the instructions yet for building the tabernacle, so the sin occurs, then he gets the rest of the instructions and then he builds.
So, the story in the Exodus isn’t laid out chronologically; it’s laid out in a pattern, so the people can understand what God provides. Then the people, through sin, cause a break in the fellowship with God. They then need a place where they can come and make peace with God where there is reconciliation.
You see these kinds of patterns that take place all the way through Scripture because God is not only teaching doctrine through the minutia of a verse, but He teaches it through the macro narrative of the Scripture over and over again. Both the overall narrative, as well as the details of the smaller stories, all reinforce one another.
As we come to the beginning of this verse, David is going to focus on his praise of God. He says, [Psalm 30:1] “I will extol You, O Yahweh—Why is he going to praise God? That’s the next line—for You have lifted me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.” Here, he’s going to give two reasons, but he doesn’t stop there because verse 2 and verse 3 will continue to explain all that God has done in lifting David up.
The first word that we see here is the word “extol”, which is based on a Hebrew word that looks to you like its “rum,” but it’s rum. That’s a long u for the vowel. And it means, “for something to be high, exalted; lofty, or to be lifted up.” So, it’s translated “extol” in most translations or, another synonym that’s different than that, which is in the second line so that they are not exact synonyms, but they mean almost the same thing. There is a play on words here: David is going to lift God up because God has lifted him up. It’s interesting to see how this goes.
We look at that word for “praise,” and I want to run through some praise words that we have in Scripture because when you look at the mosaic of all of these different words that are used to describe praise, it gives us a fuller sense of what it means to praise God. Most people, unfortunately because of shallow teaching, think that to praise God means to say, “Praise God.”
When I was younger and working in a camping environment, there were a lot of very young believers, young chronologically in their physical life as well as young—they really wanted to adopt what they thought of as a Christian demeanor. You heard a lot of what I call, “God words,” and you see this when you go to a lot of churches, they say “thank God,” and “bless you,” and “praise God,” and all of these phrases, but there’s no depth in them.
This is an example of a baby Christian who thinks that is what it means to live the Christian life. So, in one sense, there’s nothing wrong with that because babies are going to act like babies. You can’t tell a baby to act like a 15-year-old or 30-year-old; they have to go through that growing process. That’s part of it. It’s is a lot more than saying “praise God.”
The first word you have here is hālal, and hālal is the Hebrew word that means “praise.” It is the beginning of the word hallelujah. Hallel -u-jah; those are the three parts to the word. Hallel means to praise, and in that word, it’s in the imperative, which is indicated by the u “hallelu.” That means it’s a second person, plural: y’all praise. You praise Yahweh.
You don’t praise God by saying, “Hallelujah.” What you’re saying when you do that is, you’re telling everybody to praise God by saying, “praise God.” That doesn’t make sense. You praise God by talking about what God has done, describing how He has intervened in your life. You have content to it; it’s not just saying, “I want to praise God for all the things He did.”
Let’s think a little more creatively and precisely about what’s going on. This word has a range of meanings like most words, it has the idea of, “praise, shout for joy, shout for jubilation, to sing praises.” But in our culture, what’s happened in the superficiality of contemporary worship is they restrict praise to singing choruses. That’s not what this is talking about.
It’s talking about telling people on an everyday basis of what God did, for example, “I’m just so glad. I’ve been praying about this and God intervened, and it’s just amazing.” It can mean, “to sing praises,” but that’s only one, narrow, narrow part of it.
The second word we see is the word sîr which is used in the superscript “A Psalm.” That’s what it means: it is a song; it is a song of praise and that is going to be picked up a little later on in this particular psalm.
Then, we have the word zāmar, which has the idea of singing also. One form of that word, you take it from a verb form to a noun form by just putting an m at the beginning, is mizmor, and so that’s actually what it says at the beginning; it says: a mizmor. That’s the first word. We translate it psalm, but that’s what it is. It’s a particular kind of hymn. The verb is used when we get down to Psalm 30:4, and we read “Sing praise to the Lord”; that is zāmar, so we sing praise to God. That’s one form of praising God.
Then you have this word, rānan. Rānan has the idea of “giving a ringing cry”; this is shouting for joy. Sometimes in our Anglo, Scotch-Irish heritage with stiff upper lip and everything, we don’t let go with our emotions very easily, but that’s the idea here. All of a sudden, we found out that God did something, and so we just shout with joy.
The fifth word is the word gîl, which also has the idea of “giving a shout or exulting,” or when it uses the term, “cultic cry,” that’s just academic language for “praise to the worship of a god.”
Then we have the sixth use which is the word sippēr, which is an interesting word because it’s based on the word safir or sofer, which has to do with counting. The word safir, means “a book” in modern Hebrew. It didn’t mean “a book” in the ancient world; it was more of a scroll, or it was something that was written, but it has the idea “to declare something; to tell.” That’s what “praise” means—to tell what God as done.
Then you have the word kibbēd; kabod, the idea that something is heavy or important, and it comes to mean glorifying or elevating somebody because you’re showing how important they are. That’s what kabod means, usually translated “glory,” is you’re talking about how important somebody is. So when we’re praising God, we’re talking about how important He is in our lives, and to our lives, and to everything that we’ve done.
The eighth word, higdîl, is from the root gadol, which is a word we’ve studied before. It means “great” or “large,” but in this form, it means, “to cause something to be enlarged; to cause something to be magnified;” to use hyperbole even, to talk about the great things God has done and to exaggerate it.
Then the ninth word is rȏmam, which is the word rum, which is the word we have here in the beginning, “to exalt.”
Then we have one last word hizkîr from zakar. Zakar means “to remember.” So, in praise, you are remembering what God has done and reminding people what God can do in their lives. All of these give us a much more complex picture of what it means to praise God. It elevates Him; it magnifies what He has done; it brings honor and glory to God and not to us. It reminds us of what God has done. We go back to the previous list, and it can involve singing, telling, or talking, it may be a form of a shout, or exaltation, but it’s not limited to just one way of maybe doing things.
One last thing, and this summarizes all of this, the word that came to summarize the thanksgiving offering, called the praise offering, the Tȏdāh. If you’ve been to Israel with me, you’ve learned how to say boker tov, which means “good morning,” and tȏdāh, which means “thank you;” that’s what it has come to mean today, thank you, but that’s not its original meaning. Its original meaning is “declaring praise to God.” When you declare praise to God, what are you doing? You’re showing your gratitude for what God has done. So, this is a technical term for the praise offering.
Leviticus 7:11 on down to the end of the chapter focuses on this, and it’s the law of the sacrifice of the peace offering. The peace offering is what’s brought at the end [of the offerings] because now that you have gone through the confession of sin with the sin offering and trespass offering, you have sort of restated your full commitment to God through the burnt offering, now the peace offering is a reminder that there is now harmony between you and God, and the meal is shared with others that are around.
So, this is the peace offering. Leviticus 7:12, “If he offers it for a thanksgiving—offering, a todah—then he shall offer, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, or cakes or blended flour mixed with oil.” In other words, we’re going to bake a lot of things, and everyone’s going to get some of the pastries.
Leviticus 7:13, “Besides the cakes, as his offering he shall offer leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offering.” It must have smelled good; you’ve had a burnt offering, so it smells like a good barbecue place, and now you’ve got all of this baking going on and so the aromas that surrounded the temple would have been great. Not only that, but the poor would come in and eat.
We talked about the economics of the Law, which is that the poor could come in, and you’ve just slaughtered this bull, and you’ve got the burnt offering and the peace offering and all of this food is to be shared with the priests first, and then with the poor. So, they’re given lots of groceries to take home under some of these specific offerings.
Leviticus 7:14, “And from it he shall offer one cake from each offering as a—wave offering or—heave offering to the Lord. It shall belong to the priest who sprinkles the blood of the peace offering.”
Now that is important because that is picked up—lest you think, “That’s great; that’s Old Testament stuff—when you get to Hebrews 13:5, we read, “Therefore by Him let us continually—let us today in the Church Age—offer the sacrifice of praise to God.” When we are telling people what God did, it’s not about what we did, it’s about what God did, this is a sacrifice of praise; it’s the fruit of our lips.
And how is it described? Not as singing, but as giving thanks to His name—to who God is and His character.
Then, Hebrews 13:16 says, “But do not forget to do good and to share—what happened in the Old Testament is there’s all this extra food, and you share it with those who are less fortunate; you share with the poor, so they receive grace by association— for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” So that gets us through the first couple of lines in the first verse, but it sets up the structure and the framework for being able to work our way through the rest of the psalm a little more quickly.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study these things and to be reminded that this kind of praise—talking in everyday language with people all around us about what You do—causes us to be focused and thinking about what it is that God’s doing in my life today. What are we thankful for today that God has done in intervening in our lives? Just the fact that we’re here, we’re alive, that we have freedom, those are things to be thankful for, that we have our health, we have the ability to be in Bible class, that we have the freedoms and liberties that we have in this nation, and that’s just a starting point because there are so many millions and millions of people on this planet—billions—who have no freedom, no liberty, and no Word of God, and yet we have that and it’s available to us every single day in so many different ways.
“Father, help us to be grateful and thankful for all that we have and all that You have given us. In Christ’s name. Amen.”