Psalm 30: Wailing and Dancing

As a visual person, I prefer to read rather than listen to Scripture in worship. My brain doesn’t always catch the details when I only hear God’s word read, and I like the details. My love of language often finds its joy in a clever use of a word that isn’t easily perceived, or the repetition of a theme, or in the way a sentence is constructed. But God’s word is not intended for our literary joy.

Scripture contains truths that cast a net far wider than the details of the words on the page. When we let it, God’s word speaks to us in a powerful and often surprising way. Yesterday in worship, I was caught off guard by the Psalm, which I had already read throughout the week last week, but it was hearing it read in another person’s voice. As my mind darted around thinking about what was to come next in the service, Psalm 30 stopped me in my mental tracks.

I have a theory that everyone has a Psalm preference. There are folks who only want the happy psalms that never show any bit of doubt or turmoil, and there are folks who are mostly deeply touched by the lament psalms. I fall somewhere in between. I’m very comfortable with doubt, darkness, and lament, but I also am hopeful, and know that our faith shapes so much of what we do.

This, I think is why Psalm 30 caught me on Sunday. “Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Our pain and frustrations in this life are very real, they affect us so deeply, but our hope is just as powerful. This doesn’t erase or deny the pain that we feel, but it does cast a different light on it.

Another line caught me, and it’s nearly as famous, “You have turned my wailing into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” The brilliance of this line catching me is that I’m not there yet. I had hopes for this Eastertide to be bright and shimmering and bubbling with joy, but that has not been how things have played out, but I know that soon our wailing will be turned into dancing and we will be clothed with joy.

Psalm 30

I will exalt you, O Lord,
because you have lifted me up
and have not let my enemies triumph over me.

Lord my God, I cried out to you,
and you restored me to health.

You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead;
you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.

Sing to the Lord, you servants of his;
give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.

For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,
his favor for a lifetime.

Weeping may spend the night,
but joy comes in the morning.

While I felt secure, I said,
“I shall never be disturbed.
You, Lord, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.”

Then you hid your face,
and I was filled with fear.

I cried to you, O Lord;
I pleaded with the Lord, saying,

“What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit?
will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?

Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me;
Lord, be my helper.”

You have turned my wailing into dancing;
you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.

Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing;
Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

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