Looking back, I really should have put this psalm back in the life of David. I missed it somehow. It has been conjectured that this psalm was written just after David’s sin in conducting a census of the people out of the pride of his heart (I Chronicles 21, see also II Chronicles 3:1 and the notation made at the top of Psalm 30).
And in this psalm, we see David’s response to God’s discipline.
It seems here that when God afflicted Israel with the plague, that David too was struck, although no mention of this is made in II Samuel or in I Chronicles.
But after being healed, David praises God, saying,
I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit. (1-3)
Later, he writes why he was struck. He says,
When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” (6)
Here, it wasn’t a confidence in God that made him feel secure. It was confidence in himself and the army he had built up, thus leading him to count his fighting men. But through the circumstances God had put him through, he now realized where his true security came from.
O LORD, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed. (7)
And so David humbled himself at the Lord’s discipline. Looking back, he said,
To you, O LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help.” (8-10)
When God saw David’s repentant heart, he responded in mercy, forgiving David’s sin. As a result, David responded with praise.
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. (11-12)
What can we get from this? I think before I say anything else, I should make clear that just because you’re sick, doesn’t mean that God must be punishing you for something. Often times, that’s simply not the case, as we saw in Job.
But God will sometimes use illness to cause us to stop and see the wrong direction our lives are taking. And so it never hurts to take a look at your life during times of sickness and trouble to pray, “God is this because of something I have done. Is there unconfessed in my heart?”
And if God reveals something to you, then like David, we need to humble ourselves before him. But if he doesn’t, then you can probably take it as a sign that this sickness or trouble is coming from some other source.
Why do I say this? Because God doesn’t delight in torturing us. He doesn’t take pleasure in seeing us suffer. And if he is indeed using suffering to get us to turn our faces back to him, he is quick to forgive when we do. He doesn’t say, “Well, if you haven’t figured out your sin, I’m certainly not going to tell you.” Nor does he say, “You’ve finally repented, but I’m going to make you suffer more just to make sure you learn your lesson.” As David wrote,
His anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (5)
Always remember that God doesn’t discipline us because he hates us, but because he loves us and wants the very best for us. So let us respond to his correction with humble, repentant hearts.