Ps 30.1-2

wooden_bucket_of_a_well.jpg

For the next couple days, every day, I'm gonna throw up some comments on Ps 30 as we walk through it together. Probably just two verses at a time. It won't be much, and should be simply a quick read, in which I hope you learn something new.

Psalm 30:1–2

 1          A Psalm: A Song of Temple Dedication by David.[1]

2          I will exalt[2] you O Yahweh,

for you have hoisted me up[3]

and not let my enemies rejoice over me.


[1]          The "Sitz-in-Leben" is difficult to decipher as the actual psalm itself contains no references to temple customs, yet the title suggests that it was used in such a setting. The Talmud claims that it was used during the Maccabean revolt when the temple was reclaimed, but scholars are still uncertain as to the exact setting of this psalms (cf. WBC on this psalm).

[2]          The polel form of רום is used to express the meaning of exalting someone, from the more prototypical expression "to raise [someone] up". Used in conjunction with the following piel form from דלה reveals clever word choice; for in the piel stem, the verb is used to express the meaning of saving someone, which is a metaphorical extension from the qal expression "to draw water". Thus, both verbs speak of "raising someone up", but one is for exaltation, while the other is for salvation.

[3]    To be made apparent in the next verse is where the poet claims to have been drawn up from. It is important to have a basic idea of the Hebrew worldview of life and death before attempting to understand this psalm. Life was associated with being in God's presence – standing "before his face" (cf. v. 8). Thus, one could be considered dead (or void of life) when he was separated from God's presence. Another aspect of death, was the literal death itself (cf. v. 10). The place where the dead were thought to reside was a place called Sheol. This must not be confused with Hell on any accounts; it is merely the realm of the deceased: the land of not (cf. Kohler, L. 1953. Hebrew Man, 96). Sheol was also commonly referred to as the Pit (cf. vss. 4, 10) and it is from this dark place that the poet seeks deliverance.

Notice how natural "wells" lead down into Sheol

The verb used here typically describes water being drawn from a well (the same word for pit in Hebrew, which will be creatively exploited soon). Thus, the poet paints a picture of having fallen down the passageway to Sheol and being rescued, like water drawn from a well.

We now see (via causal כי) why the poet praises God. Interesting is the parallel action of elevating: God raises the poet to safety, so the poet raises God's name to glory.