Following God’s victory at Mount Carmel, the prophet Elijah fled from the vengeful anger of Queen Jezebel. After providing food, water, and rest for His exhausted and depressed servant, God told Elijah to stand at the entrance to the cave in which he was resting at Mount Horeb. First came a powerful wind, “but the Lord was not in the wind.” Then came an earthquake and a fire, but He wasn’t in those either. Finally, God spoke to Elijah in a “gentle whisper” or a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:1–18).
Elijah had been feeling spiritually empty. He needed to know that God not only acts through impressive miracles but also shows His love in smaller and more personal ways.
In today’s reading, David also felt spiritually empty. He had been calling out to the Lord for help and mercy (vv. 8, 10), yet God had so far apparently remained unresponsive and silent.
The psalmist’s rhetorical argument is that one silence begets another (v. 9). If God remains silent and does not rescue him, then he will die and be unable to offer any more praise: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit?” Only the living can worship God, a point made throughout the psalms: “It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to the place of silence; it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore” (Ps. 115:17–18).
With faith that anticipates God’s answer, David ends this psalm with praise (vv. 11–12). Silence will be transformed into praise, weeping into dancing, and grief into joy! The feeling that our final destiny is the pit of death is a horrible one—but not a true one. Faith knows God will be faithful.
David wrote Psalm 30 for the dedication of the temple he wasn’t allowed to build. It may also be connected to his census of Israel, followed by God’s discipline (see 2 Samuel 24). Yet he still praised the Lord! We too can praise Him no matter what. Tough circumstances? God is in control. Sin? God forgives. This is the day that the Lord has made!