Friends and family who know me, know that I tend to like things to be positive. Darlene, my wife since 1978, read me a passage about my basic personality type that compares me to Peter Pan and his propensity to just fly around. When I saw that I was assigned Psalm 30 I was thrilled. There won’t be any deep brooding over the pain of life. There won’t be any woe is me. There won’t be any great announcements of God’s judgment on the wicked. This, as the Psalm begins and ends, is about reorientation:
“I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths…” (vs 1)
“… you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises …” (vs 11b-12a)
Unfortunately for any superficial syrupy reading of the text, David included verses 3-10. These verses are the stuff of real life. These verses are the pathway to reorientation and joy. These verses deal with our need for the mercy of the Lord. These are about our need to walk in close relationship with the God of our salvation. These are the verses that remind us of the holiness and greatness of God; yet also remind us that He does love us and hears us when we call.
One final issue for those who like to live in the surface and sometimes self-centred world of Peter Pan; this is a communal psalm. This psalm was a dedication text. This is about more than my joy; it is a call to the community to come together, to remember who God is, how faithful He is and how merciful He is. This invites us to a deeper joy because it is a shared joy.
Peter Pan represents the mischievous character that never wants to grow up. Psalm 30 invites us to a life of greater depth and growth into maturity. Yes there is great joy in reorienting our life, but it is only after we come through the difficult days of disorientation that the joy shines brightly.
“Merciful Lord, it does not surprise me that you forget completely the sins of those who repent. I am not surprised that you remain faithful to those who hate and revile you. The mercy which pours forth from you fills the whole world.” St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)