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Lesson Learnt: When Pride Causes a Fall

Psalm 30

A Song at the Dedication of the House of David.
I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my foes rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me. O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favour is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.
Now in my prosperity I said, "I shall never be moved." LORD, by Your favour You have made my mountain stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled.
I cried out to You, O LORD; And to the LORD I made supplication: "What profit is there in my blood, When I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth? Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me; LORD, be my helper!"
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Reflection

This is a psalm of exuberant (Alexander) thanks giving by a man who had been brought low by the Lord due to his own pride and complacency. It is a Psalm of praise dedicated to the House, which David did not live to see; it was Solomon who built the Lord’s temple.

Note as you read this Psalm two things: its focus is outward, towards the Lord, and the psalm is solely concerned with ‘brand’ God.

David began in hardship and in peril, facing initially bears and lions (1 Sam 17:36), followed by Goliath then King Saul, who of whom wanted to kill him. Later he became prosperous (verse 6) defeating his enemies (1 Chron 18) and living, at the time of this Psalm in peace in the City of David (2 Chron 11) with his wives and children, having power and glory. Yet it appears he became complacent in respect to his true position – his position before God and he suffered an affliction (verse 7). Was it his pride? His adultery with Bathsheba suggests he had lost his fervour for the righteousness of God and along with pride, lust causes even the greatest men to fall.

Every day in the desert, while running from enemies seeking to kill him, David relied upon the Lord (Ps 18). How easy is it to live without any regard to God when all is going well; we have all we want; we are at peace (at least with self), and we don’t need to rely upon God for the basics of life? God brings the reality of life back to David. His anger is exercised against David (verse 5); and David is shaken (moved or frightened). It shook him out of his complacency, humbled him and returned him to pursue the Lord with all fervour. Effective discipline causes behaviour change.

We see that the discipline was for a moment (5a), and David’s confidence in the Lord is clear. He cries out for mercy (verse 8) and we see this is indeed the response of God. David responds with thanks and praise, verse 12. Why? Because he deserved it and a whole lot more – this was discipline, not judgement as David, you and I deserve. The purpose? Healing, as emphasises in verse 2; mercy prevails, as it prevails in the blood of Jesus Christ who died for you and me, and we are healed (1 Peter 2:24).

The Lord hid his face from David (7) meaning David lost fellowship with the Lord – God cannot look upon sin; prosperity unfortunately is the landscape in which we live today – and prosperity brings contempt; is this why the western church is so weak and ineffective? While the wicked might say; “why do we need the Lord when we have everything?” the Christian loses interest in communion with the Lord and fails to give due homage and praise to the source of all blessings.

It is worthwhile noting that David does not dwell on being disciplined – he understands he deserved it; he does not wallow in self-pity. Indeed he commences the Psalm in extolling the Lord and encourages the whole congregation to do so with him. His starting point was not, look at poor me; God is harsh, but rather under the truth of the reality of sin he starts with the thought; God is Holy – look at Him: “I extol you O LORD” – I sinned and I deserved what God did to me. Is this your starting position, praising the Lord prior to your requests, even while being disciplined in the Lord?

The Psalm is a great model for prayer – it demonstrates true humility and seeks to lift up the name of God. As a prayer it’s good to start with praising the Lord and acknowledging him as the source of our peace, followed by acknowledging our own sinfulness, and the mercy of the Lord as the one who has redeemed us, commencing and ending with giving thanks to the Lord.

A word of caution; this Psalm is not saying that a rich prosperous person is likely to suffer loss, but rather it is a warning that prosperity can lead to pride causing that person to take his or her eyes of Jesus. Our security needs to be in the Lord and him alone. If pride finds us, we must turn to the Lord and cry out to Him with repentance and humility; he will be just and righteous to forgive us (1 John 1:9), so we too can turn our mourning into dancing (verse 11).

Questions for reflection

1. Do you have any pride in your life that interferes with communion with God and needs to be confessed? Do so now.
2. Give thanks to the Lord for everything; are there things in your life which you should take a moment to humbly give thanks for, especially things, activities or events which He has allowed you to succeed in.

 

David L Simon
Psalm 30
Posted: 17 Oct 2021


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