We have, in these verses, an account of three several states that David was in successively, and of the workings of his heart towards God in each of those states—what he said and did, and how his heart stood affected; in the first of these we may see what we are too apt to be, and in the other two what we should be.
I. He had long enjoyed prosperity, and then he grew secure and over-confident of the continuance of it (Ps. 30:6, 7): “In my prosperity, when I was in health of body and God had given me rest from all my enemies, I said I shall never be moved; I never thought either of having my body distempered or my government disturbed, not had any apprehensions of danger upon any account.” Such complete victories had he obtained over those that opposed him, and such a confirmed interest had he in the hearts of his people, such a firmness of mind and such a strong constitution of body, that he thought his prosperity fixed like a mountain; yet this he ascribes, not to his own wisdom or fortitude, but to the divine goodness. Thou, through thy favour, hast made my mountain to stand strong, Ps. 30:7. He does not look upon it as his heaven (as worldly people do, who make their prosperity their felicity), only his mountain; it is earth still, only raised a little higher than the common level. This he thought, by the favour of God, would be perpetuated to him, imagining perhaps that, having had so many troubles in the beginning of his days, he had had his whole share and should have none in his latter end, or that God, who had given him such tokens of his favour, would never frown upon him. Note, 1. We are very apt to dream, when things are well with us, that they will always be so, and never otherwise. To-morrow shall be as this day. As if we should think, when the weather is once fair, that it will be even fair; whereas nothing is more certain than that it will change. 2. When we see ourselves deceived in our expectations, it becomes us to reflect, with shame, upon our security, as our folly, as David does here, that we may be wiser another time and may rejoice in our prosperity as though we rejoiced not, because the fashion of it passes away.
II. On a sudden he fell into trouble, and then he prayed to God, and pleaded earnestly for relief and succour.
1. His mountain was shaken and he with it; it proved, when he grew secure, that he was least safe: “Thou didst hide thy face and I was troubled, in mind, body, or estate.” In every change of his condition he still kept his eye upon God, and, as he ascribed his prosperity to God’s favour, so in his adversity he observed the hiding of God’s face, to be the cause of it. If God hide his face, a good man is certainly troubled, though no other calamity befal him; when the sun sets night certainly follows, and the moon and all the stars cannot make day.
2. When his mountain was shaken he lifted up his eyes above the hills. Prayer is a salve for every sore; he made use of it accordingly. Isa. any afflicted? Isa. any troubled? Let him pray. Though God hid his face from him, yet he prayed. If God, in wisdom and justice, turn from us, yet it will be in us the greatest folly and injustice imaginable if we turn from him. No; let us learn to pray in the dark (Ps. 30:8): I cried to thee, O Lord! It seems God’s withdrawings made his prayers the more vehement. We are here told, for it seems he kept account of it,
(1.) What he pleaded, Ps. 30:9. [1.] That God would be no gainer by his death: What profit is there in my blood? implying that he would willingly die if he could thereby do any real service to God or his country (Phil. 2:17), but he saw not what good could be done by his dying in the bed of sickness, as might be if he had died in the bed of honour. “Lord,” says he, “wilt thou sell one of thy own people for nought and not increase thy wealth by the price?” Ps. 44:2. Nay [2.] That, in his honour, God would seem to be a loser by his death: Shall the dust praise thee? The sanctified spirit, which returns to God, shall praise him, shall be still praising him; but the dust, which returns to the earth, shall not praise him, nor declare his truth. The services of God’s house cannot be performed by the dust; it cannot praise him; there is none of that device or working in the grave, for it is the land of silence. The promises of God’s covenant cannot be performed to the dust. “Lord,” says David, “if I die now, what will become of the promise made to me? Who shall declare the truth of that?” The best pleas in prayer are those that are taken from God’s honour; and then we ask aright for life when we have that in view, that we may live and praise him.
(2.) What he prayed for, Ps. 30:10. He prayed for mercy to pardon (Have mercy upon me), and for grace to help in time of need—Lord, be thou my helper. On these two errands we also may come boldly to the throne of grace, Heb. 4:16.
III. In due time God delivered him out of his troubles and restored him to his former prosperity. His prayers were answered and his mourning was turned into dancing, Ps. 30:11. God’s anger now endured but for a moment, and David’s weeping but for a night. The sackcloth with which, in a humble compliance with the divine Providence, he had clad himself, was loosed; his griefs were balanced; his fears were silenced; his comforts returned; and he was girded with gladness: joy was made his ornament, was made his strength, and seemed to cleave to him, as the girdle cleaves to the loins of a man. As David’s plunge into trouble from the height of prosperity, and then when he least expected it, teaches us to rejoice as though we rejoiced not, because we know not how near trouble may be, so his sudden return to a prosperous condition teaches us to weep as though we wept not, because we know not how soon the storm may become a calm and the formidable blast may become a favourable gale. But what temper of mind was he in upon this happy change of the face of his affairs? What does he say now? He tells us, Ps. 30:12. 1. His complaints were turned into praises. He looked upon it that God girded him with gladness to the end that he might be the sweet psalmist of Israel (2 Sam. 23:1), that his glory might sing praise to God, that is, his tongue (for our tongue is our glory, and never more so than when it is employed in praising God) or his soul, for that is our glory above the beasts, that must be employed in blessing the Lord, and with that we must make melody to him in singing psalms. Those that are kept from being silent in the pit must not be silent in the land of the living, but fervent, and constant, and public, in praising God. 2. These praises were likely to be everlasting: I will give thanks unto thee for ever. This bespeaks a gracious resolution that he would persevere to the end in praising God and a gracious hope that he should never want fresh matter for praise and that he should shortly be where this would be the everlasting work. Blessed are those that dwell in God’s house; they will be still praising him. Thus must we learn to accommodate ourselves to the various providences of God that concern us, to want and to abound, to sing of mercy and judgment, and to sing unto God for both.