In Psalm 30, the psalmist weaves from illness to healing, from divine absence to presence, from individual to community and back to individual. This personal testimony of deliverance and healing leads to a communal sharing and celebration.

There is a kind of dance and reasoning with God in this psalm, in the style of Wisdom literature in the Hebrew Bible. The psalmist attempts to goad God into responding by asking question after question: If the psalmist died, what would the benefit be for God? Who would be left to praise God and tell of God’s faithfulness? Would the dust praise God? The final image of the supplicant putting on the clothing of joy in order to dance affirms that God has acted and responded to the prayer.

Before becoming ill, the psalmist was prosperous and felt secure. But it was true then as it is now that prosperity does not necessarily protect us from illness or from experiencing God’s absence. Though we may be established as a “strong mountain,” we are not invincible. We still call and depend on God for healing and comfort.

Praise is our response to God’s action. Even when we experience God’s work in our lives as individuals, the psalmist reminds us that we are to share our praise in community: It is meant to be seen and heard. While we can do it alone, we are really to dance in community. Changing out of sackcloth is also meant to be seen by the community. Finally, “not [being] silent” means we are to make sure others in the community hear the praises of our soul.

Clothe us in joy, O God, so that we can sing and dance your praises. Amen.

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I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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