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05.24.20 Morning is Coming Psalm 30 and 1 Peter 1 Sermon Summary

by on May 26, 2020

Psalm 30 comes to us as a song from the other side. The occasion for the author’s lament has past and he is being restored to a joyful community of worship. Our national anthem is another song from the other side. The dark night of war, punctuated only by the glare of rockets and bursting bombs, yields to dawn’s early light to reveal the stars and stripes of our banner. Songs from the other side encourage and give hope. They are honest about our laments and hopeful of God’s deliverance.

The author of Psalm 30 is one who has lamented, who peered into the “Pit” of death and survived, and is now returning to congregational worship. His cause for lament is given in one compact sentence: “You hid your face, I was dismayed.”

Psalm 104 uses the same language. “When you hide your face, creatures are dismayed; you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.” Our psalmist was brought to the point of death where the dark Pit of Sheol is visible. But he survives and returns from the other side to say, “Sing praises to the Lord, and give thanks to God’s holy name.” (verse 4)

The heart of the psalm is verse 5: “God’s anger is but for a moment, God’s favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

We’re told that the psalmist was healthy and wealthy. He was “established as a strong mountain” and enjoyed “prosperity.” But then the fortunes were reversed. He uses a lot of metaphorical language: “strong mountain,” the “Pit,” God’s “face,” sickness as “foes.”

This brings us to the first point about lament psalms: They invite personalization. What is your “strong mountain?” What are your “foes?” What losses cause such grief that your own life seems in jeopardy? Psalm 30 speaks to you from the other side.

How did this psalmist survive?

One thing he did was to cry out to God for help. So often we don’t do this, perhaps because we feel guilty for our own suffering, as if it is our own fault. And there may be some truth to that.

But God is a savior. It’s God’s nature to save. God doesn’t care who’s to blame. God doesn’t care how long it takes us. We can always ask for help.

A second strategy for survival is based on this. A saving God wants to be praised and thanked, so the psalmist argues, “The dead don’t praise you—they’re dead! If I die, I can’t praise you.” This is the perspective of the psalmist. “Save me from dying, so I can praise you.”

God’s answer to the author of this psalm was to save from dying. But what about when that isn’t God’s answer? Is the psalmist’s faith voided by death? Is psalmist’s hope vain in death? What about the death of our loved ones? What about our own death? What about when God’s answer is not to save from dying? Does God just not answer? And if God does not answer, should we continue in prayer? Continue in faith? Continue in hope?

First Peter was written to answer these kinds of questions. This is evident early on in the letter. The resurrection of Christ is God’s answer to the psalmist’s charge, “If I die, it’s too late to save me, and I can’t praise you.”

The resurrection of Christ removes the foundation of the argument. After the resurrection death is not final. It is not the end. God’s ability to save is not extinguished by death. In fact, it is enhanced by it. Jesus’ foes thought they had won: “He claimed to be God’s Son, let God rescue him now.” Jesus even cried in the words of the psalmist, “My God, why have your forsaken me?”

Then he breathed his last, and died. Jesus went down to the Pit. He entered Sheol where God’s praise cannot be uttered.

“But,” Peter proclaims, “God raised Jesus from the dead,” and now we have a “new birth” into a “living hope.” What is more, “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” is secured for us. This is a salvation in the future, necessarily in the future, because it is beyond death.

In the meantime Peter acknowledges we will suffer, we will lament, and we will die. But the “genuineness” of our faith—the “truth” of our faith—will be proven like gold refined by fire.

And the result is exactly what God desires: “praise and glory and honor when Christ is revealed.”

God the savior will save. Death cannot hold us captive. The resurrected Christ liberates us from the grave. Our mourning is turned into dancing. We replace our sackcloth with garments of joy. The weeping of the night gives way to joy in the morning. And we will praise God. Morning is coming. Thanks be to God.

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