Psalm 30 carries a curious title which tells of its use in ancient Israel. “A Psalm of David. A Song at the dedication of the temple.”
First, the psalm in attributed to King David. We have no difficulty thinking of David praying this psalm of thanksgiving for God’s deliverance. He came to the throne of Israel after years of oppression and exile under Saul. God delivered him and turned his hard times into times of dancing.
Second, the psalm was later sung as part of a festival celebrated every year – the Dedication or Hanukkah, of the temple. This was the winter feast dating back to 165 B.C. when Judas Maccabeus led a revolt against the ruthless oppression of Antiochus Epiphanies. At the end of a decade of terror, Judas rededicated the temple. This festival is still held every year in December, though the temple was destroyed nearly 2,000 years ago.
Both David and the temple were “types” of Him who was to come. The deeper voice in this psalm is Christ our Lord on the day of resurrection. “O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol (the grave) You have restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.”
Christ is the true David, the new Israel’s Psalmist, our song leader in the eternal praise of God: “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.”
Christ is also our true temple. As St. john wrote in his vision in Revelation, For the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
For this reason, Psalm 30 is used on the day of our Lord’s resurrection, the vindication of the new David and the consecration of the true Temple.
It’s a fitting psalm on a day we focus on the resurrection of the widow of Zeraphath’s son through Elijah; Jesus’ restoring life to the son of the widow at Nain; and Paul’s recounting of Jesus raising him from spiritual death to life through grace.