Joy Comes in the Morning: Giving Thanks After Discipline
February 15, 2015
Hebrews 12 contains the most well-known passage related to God’s spiritual discipline of His children (vv. 5-11). Did you notice all the things that the writer of Hebrews says about God and discipline in that passage?
- God will reprove His people (vv. 5-6 [3x])
- God loves the people He disciplines (v. 6a)
- His discipline may involve scourging — the word used to be beaten with a whip; it certainly contains the idea of corporal punishment that is as severe as necessary to accomplish His purposes (v. 6b)
- God’s discipline of His people is fatherly (v. 7; cp. Mt. 7:7-11)
- If God does not discipline someone it is because that one is not His son (v. 8)
- God’s discipline is merciful and gracious and life-giving (v. 9)
- God’s discipline is not punitive, but is to produce good in us — specifically, holiness and righteousness (vv. 10-11)
The end result of that discipline sounds good to us — we want holiness and righteousness, but while we are in the process, the discipline and correction is not easy and doesn’t seem joyful (v. 11).
David knew that reality as well, and he penned at least one psalm about the corrective, scourging discipline of God — Psalm 30. As we look at this psalm, we need to begin with a short technical explanation. Most of the psalms (116 to be exact; 77%) have a superscript at the beginning of the psalm. Generally those notations tell us the author (David, in this psalm) and sometimes provide a musical instruction (e.g., “set to alamoth,” Ps. 46, indicates it was to be sung by a female choir), sometimes a literary category (“maskil,” Ps. 32, indicates it is a teaching or didactic psalm), or sometimes a note about the historical setting (“when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone into Bathsheba,” Ps. 51). It should be noted that while we are generally confident in the accuracy of these headings, many, if not most, were added long after the Psalm was written, and by someone other than the original author of the psalm. So while these headings are helpful, they are not considered to be part of the text or inerrant.
That background is necessary for understanding the superscript at the top of this psalm. It reads, “A Psalm: a song at the dedication of the house; of David.” The inscription is unusual because typically the inscription would have read “a Psalm of David: a song…” And instead the phrase, “a song at the dedication” has been inserted between the words “a psalm” and “of David.”
And even more complicating than that is the question “which house was being dedicated?” Typically that’s a word that would have been used for the Temple; except David didn’t build the Temple, Solomon did. So other options have been proposed:
- It might have been sung at a dedication of David’s palace and residence (1 Sam. 5:11)
- It might have been when the dedication of the site where the Temple would be built (1 Chron. 21:26) after the plague that struck the nation for David’s unwise taking of a census (1 Chron. 21:1-17). However that plague did not result in David’s near death (Ps. 30:3, 6-7), so that seems unlikely.
- It might have been written by David but sung many years later at the rededication of the Temple after Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the Temple in 165 B.C. (This what the Talmud says, but this view seems the least likely).
All that to say, we believe David wrote this psalm, but we just do not know with certainty what the historical setting for the psalm was.
What we do know with certainty is that David almost died and he clearly believed his physical suffering to be direct discipline from the Lord for some sin of his. As we look at this psalm, we are not saying that every incident of physical suffering is corrective discipline from the Lord for unrepentant sin; but it is worth examining whether or not our sin has led to some form of discipline from God, because
God will correct His children to make them holy and joyful.
As he considered the events of his discipline from the Lord, David identifies four stages or steps in that discipline:
- Thanksgiving for the Results of Discipline (vv. 1-5)
- The Need for Discipline (vv. 6-7)
- A Plea in the Midst of Discipline (vv. 8-10)
- A Renewal After Discipline (vv. 11-12)
Download the rest of this sermon on Psalm 30.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.