Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 11: Wednesday
For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.
Wednesday’s Bible reading of Psalms 30–32, speaks of God as our shelter and safety and of the blessings of being forgiven by Him and of His lovingkindness.
David is exuberant in Psalm 30. Derek Kidner calls this psalm, “Mourning into Dancing.” He writes,
“The title makes makes this psalm ‘a Song at the dedication of the House’, which RSV takes to mean God’s House, but which RV margin interprets as David’s own (2 Sam. 5:11). Either of those is possible (cf. the dancing in verse 11 with 2 Sa. 6:9, 14…), and in either case David has at last emerged from his early trials into happier days.”1
There are times in our lives when the future may seem so dim to us that we feel unable to see even a handsbreadth in front of our face. David’s words assure us that God has seen our affliction, He has known the troubles of our soul, and that when we take refuge in Him, then He will hide us in the secret place of His presence and shelter us.
Let me never be ashamed;
In Your righteousness protect me.
Incline Your ear to me, deliver me quickly;
Be to me a rock of strength,
A fortress to save me.
For You are my high rock and my fortress;
For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.
You will bring me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have ransomed me, O Yahweh, God of truth.
Kidner titles Psalm 31 simply as, “Stress,” and comments:
“This psalm impressed itself on more than one biblical character deeply enough to come to mind at moments of supreme crisis. Jonah’s prayer [cf. Jonah 2:8 compare also Psalm 31:22 and Jonah 2:4] draws upon it (6); Jeremiah was haunted by a phrase from verse 13 [cf. Jeremiah 6:25, 20:10, 46:5, 49:29; Lamentations 2:22]; verse 5 gave words to Jesus for His last utterance on the cross [cf. Luke 23:46]. It illustrates the role of the Psalms in meeting a great variety of human needs beyond the bounds of formal worship and the orginal experiences of the author.
“An unusual feature of this psalm is that it makes the journey twice over from anguish to assurance: first in 1–8 and again in 9–24. It is hard to say whether this points to a renewed onslaught, when ‘the clouds return after the rain’2 (a common enough spiritual experience), or whether the crisis of the opening verses is recalled, to be explored a second time in greater depth.”3
Kidner divides the psalm into two sections with these titles: 31:1–8, the hunted man with his prayer of faith, 1–6, and his praise, 7, 8; and 31:9–24, the rejected man in his isolation, 9–13, with his prayer of faith, 14–18, and his final act of praise, 19–24.4
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have worked for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!
You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man;
You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be Yahweh,
For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.
As for me, I said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from before Your eyes”;
Nevertheless, You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried to You for help.
Oh, love Yahweh, all you His holy ones!
Yahweh guards the faithful
But repays fully the one who acts in lofty pride.
Be strong and let your heart take courage,
All you who wait for Yahweh.
Kidner writes that,
“Let your heart take courage could equally be translated ‘he shall strengthen your heart’, as in AV. The latter seems more meaningful: an assurance of help to those who dare count on it, rather than a double exhortation.”5
There are times when we are surrounded by enemies, but God hears our prayers in our besieged city, and He is with us. From what I know of history, a siege could be long, arduous and terrifying—but in the midst of any ordeal we may experience, no siege can keep God’s lovingkindness from us as He gives us comfort, consolation, and help for each moment.
Psalm 32 is the second of the “penitential psalm”: Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143.6 M’Caw and Motyer, and Kidner all title Psalm 32, “The Joy of Forgiveness.”7 Kidner writes,
“To be in close accord with God is true happiness: this is the constant theme of the psalm, expressed now positively, in the opening and the close, and now negatively, in the memory of the lost fellowship, in the gentle mockery of the stubborn (who should take a look at the trappings of a mule), and in the reminder of the perils (6) and pangs (10) which are the lot of those who choose to walk alone.”8
M’Caw and Motyer comment:
“These verses describe the great satisfaction and joyous freedom of the soul whose sin has been covered, cancelled and cleansed by the wholly righteous Lord…The fact of sin and forgiveness is stated four ways, and repeated in v. 5 with an emphatic climax. Inserted in this comprehensive statement of a soul’s transformation is an account (vv. 3, 4) of the deep conflict which accompanied the previous sense of guilt…
“The turning point was when he decided to confess to God, who at once both freely forgave and completely dealt with his problem.”9
Alec Motyer expands on the wonder of repentance and forgiveness:
“What a relief, then, to note the miracle (no less) of repentance (Ps. 32:5). The sheer simplicity of it! ‘I let you know…you forgave.’…This simplicity of dealing with sin by repentance is made possible through substitution…Isaiah foresaw that ultimately only a Person could be a true substitute for persons (53:4–6), foreshadowing Jesus…
“In this way (Ps. 32:1), sin is ‘covered’—not by being hidden out of sight but as a debt is ‘covered’ by the price which pays for it. Wonder of all wonders, my sin is no longer put to my account, but is ‘imputed; (Ps. 32:2) to Another.”10
God is our fortress. Whenever we are beseiged He will protect us. He can help with our fears within and overcome any enemy without. When we sin, if we turn to Him in repentence, we are forgiven: our sin is covered, and He does not take our transgression into account. We are surrounded by His marvelous lovingkindness. No wonder David rejoices!
But he who trusts in Yahweh, lovingkindness shall surround him.
Be glad in Yahweh and rejoice, you righteous ones;
And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.
For a brief overview of the structure and poetry of Psalms see my post, The Five Books of Psalms.
Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
The wall of the old city of Jerusalem: Amir616. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
1,3,4,5,6,7,8Derek Kidner, Psalm 1–72 (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1973) 128; 130; 130–132; 132; 133, 60; 133; 133.
2See also the first stanza of the hymn, “The Bright Morning Land,” by Eliza E. Hewitt at Hymnary.org
“Sometimes we grope ‘mid the shadows of pain,
Sometimes the clouds will “return after rain;”
Cling, then, more closely to God’s blessed hand,
Leading us on to the bright Morning-Land.”
7,9Leslie S. M’Caw and J. T. Motyer, “Psalms,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1970) 470, 470.
10Alec Motyer, Psalms By The Day: A New Devotional Translation (Christian Focus Publications Ltd, Ross-shire, Scotland, U.K. 2016) 84.
I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.
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