Today’s four psalms cover quite a range of emotions and types of prayer. Psalm 29 is a beautiful prayer of adoration. It begins by calling on angels to ascribe glory to the Lord. Then the psalmist considers God’s presence in his creation: in water, thunder, storm, fire, wind, and flood. Finally, the psalmist considers the praise God receives in his temple, where all cry “Glory!” He concludes by asking the Lord to give strength and the blessing of peace to his people.
C. S. Lewis has this valuable meditation on the nature of adoration in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer….
Gratitude exclaims, very properly, “How good of God to give me this.” Adoration says, “What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!” One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.
Lewis had the habit of taking daily walks in the countryside or in a garden. He believed that his soul was reconstituted by those daily walks in God’s creation. He would use his walks as opportunities for prayer, giving thanks for the beauty of God’s created order, then allowing that thanksgiving to lead him to adoration, moving from the sunbeam to the sun, from God’s creation to God.
Psalm 30 says it is a song at the dedication of the temple and that it is a psalm of David. I am not sure how it could be both, since the temple did not come into existence until after David’s time. Nor do the contents of the psalm seem to have anything in particular to do with the temple, though the mention of dancing in the last stanza is reminiscent of David’s dancing when he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem to reside in the tabernacle there. Again, we must remember that these descriptions of the origins and authors of the psalms were added long after the composition of the psalms themselves and their incorporation in the canon of Scripture.
Psalm 30 begins with thanksgiving for rescue from serious ill health. David, or whoever was the author of the psalm was apparently close to dying, but then recovered. The psalmist then moves from there to consider all of God’s people and to urge them to sing praises to the Lord, because his anger (seen in sickness perhaps?) is only for a moment, but God’s favor lasts a lifetime.
Then there are the beautiful lines that have meant so much to God’s sorrowing people through the millennia: “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
In the rest of the psalm the psalmist explains how he prayed to the Lord when he was in danger of death and how the Lord restored him. Another exquisite expression is this one: “You have turned my mourning into dancing.” What could be better than that?
If I remember correctly, Psalm 31 was pinned on the wall beside Augustine on his death-bed. The saint took special comfort in verse fifteen: “My times are in your hand.” That is a good thing for all of us to remember, whether we are ill, or dying, or in the prime of life: our times are in God’s hands.
Psalm 32 is a beautiful penitential psalm, or really a psalm that recounts the benefits of repentance. “Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Such happiness, the psalmist says, comes from the Lord in response to our confession of sin.
The composer of this psalm has another beautiful word picture: “steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.” One pictures God’s love being like the walls of a castle with his trusting subjects safely protected inside. In fact, God’s love is the only thing that keeps us secure through all the battles and storms of life.