1 I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,
and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
3 O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.*
4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment;
his favour is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
6 As for me, I said in my prosperity,
‘I shall never be moved.’
7 By your favour, O Lord,
you had established me as a strong mountain;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.
8 To you, O Lord, I cried,
and to the Lord I made supplication:
9 ‘What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the Pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!
O Lord, be my helper!’
11 You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth
and clothed me with joy,
12 so that my soul* may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
Summary—David probably wrote this psalm for the dedication of his own, private house—it was a fitting occasion to reflect on God’s kindness to him. In this psalm, David recalls a time that he harbored a sinful attitude: self-reliance as opposed to God-reliance, in response to his success (“I said in my prosperity, ‘I shall never be moved,’” v.6). The problem was that God, not David, had established David like a strong mountain (v.7a). In response to David’s pride, God lovingly disciplined him, hiding His face from him (v.7b), and causing him to become so ill that death seemed likely (v.3 and v.9). Thankfully, God’s anger is but for a moment, whereas His favor is for a lifetime (v.5): David cried to God for help, and God healed him (v.2), saving him from the grave, restoring his life (v.3). In response to this, David lifted God’s Name up in praise (that’s the meaning of “extol”) just like God had lifted David’s health up in mercy (v.1).
Insight—God won’t let you take credit for what He does. Not very publicly, anyway, and not for very long. He didn’t let Gideon take much of an army into battle (Judges 7), and He destroyed the king of Assyria for thinking that he was anything more than an axe in God’s hand (Is. 10), and He struck down Herod for not giving Him the glory (Acts 12), and He has elected to salvation mainly those of us who are not very impressive (1 Cor. 1:26-29). This is all because God is precisely what we should be: God-centered. Everything is about Him. Mountains and oceans and flowers and snails are all about God. And we were made to be about God. And yes, God is about God: Scripture tells us repeatedly that God does what He does for His Name’s sake, for His own glory, that He may be feared. Isn’t that self-centered of Him? Well, there are at least three ways we could answer that:  Yes, that is quite faithfully self-centered of God! See, the rule of the universe is not, “Don’t be self-centered.” That simply isn’t the point. The rule of the universe is, “Be God centered.” For us, that means, “Don’t be self-centered;” for God, that means, “Be self-centered.”  Everything God feels and does is wrapped up in the giving, overflowing, Others-centered love of Tri-unity. When the Father guards His own Name, He’s lovingly guarding the Name of the Son and Spirit. When the Son builds His Kingdom, it’s to lovingly deliver it over to His Father. When the Spirit gloriously manifests Himself, it’s to lovingly glorify the Son. Since God is Triune, He can’t do anything that isn’t automatically for Others.  When God glorifies Himself, He’s doing it for our joy! How could He not? What could thrill us more deeply than the splendor of God? We can never find more than finite joy in finite things, but we may find infinite joy in an Infinite Person. Our truest, deepest, most soul-satisfying joys are in God Himself. If you take some pleasure in seeing the Poconos, and even greater pleasure in seeing the Rockies, and even greater pleasure in seeing the Alps, what will it be to see God on Mt. Zion? And so, when God guards and displays His own glory for His own pleasure, He’s guarding and displaying it for our pleasure, too.
Q: If you are established like a strong mountain, what has done it?
A: The Lord’s favor.
Discussion—What’s the difference between God’s response to, say, Herod, and His response to David, when they both commit the same sin?
Prayer—Almighty God, You are great, and greatly to be praised. There is no god like You—there is none beside You. You will not share Your glory with another, but will jealously guard and display it in the love of Your Tri-unity, and in love toward us whose souls will be restless until they find rest in it. Grant us a glimpse of Your glory sufficient to eclipse in us any desire for our own, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who always lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever. AMEN.
Contributed by Scott Cline