A Psalm To Say “Thank You” to God (Psalm 30:1–12)

The Scottish novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson, once said, “The person who has stopped being thankful has fallen asleep in life.” In other words, even in the darkest moments of life there is always something for which people can be grateful and to not recognize that is to be knowingly or ignorantly unconscious.

Now, if that’s true in general, how much more for God’s people in particular? Are we not totally forgiven? Are we not kept near the Father through the Son by the Spirit? Are we not loved beyond comprehension? Are we not headed toward everlasting paradise? Surely Christians can amend Stevenson’s sentiment and say with confidence, “The people of God who have stopped being thankful have fallen asleep in life!”

But sometimes we need a reminder because the years can bring difficulties and sometimes we need a model because we forget how and why to say “thank you” to God. Psalm 30 provides both.


The Scottish novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson, once made this comment: “The person who has stopped being thankful has fallen asleep in life.” In other words, there’s always something for which we can be grateful, even in the darkest times, and to not recognize that is to be knowingly or ignorantly unconscious.

If that’s true in general, how much more for Christians in particular? Are we not forgiven? Are we not kept near the Father through the Son by the Spirit? Are we not loved beyond comprehension? Are we not headed toward everlasting paradise? Surely Christians can amend Stevenson’s quote and say, “The people of God who have stopped being thankful have fallen asleep in life.”

But sometimes we need a reminder because life is difficult and sometimes we need a model because we forget how and why to say “thank you” to God. Psalm 30 gives us both. In it, the Spirit records, through the psalmist, what God did for David, how David responded with thankfulness, and how he calls for us to join him.


For God’s people, gratitude begins by acknowledging what God has done for us. And that’s what dominates much of this psalm, declarations of what God did for David.

And it was for David. It was personal: I count almost thirty uses of first-person pronouns—“I cried to you,” “You healed me,” “O Lord my God.” God came through for David personally.

And what did he do, exactly? The psalmist starts vague, “You [God] have lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.” He seems to have experienced some liberation and vindication. God had elevated David over his enemies and stopped their gloating.

But it’s gets more specific as we keep reading. “I cried to you for help, and you healed me.” It seems the situation was quite dire. Verse 3 adds that it actually might have been fatal: “O Lord, you have brought up my soul (or, my life) from Sheol (or, the grave, the place of the dead).” “You saved my life, God!”[30:3b] This was serious!

This is what God did for David. He provided personal liberation and vindication from enemies. God provided him with restoration of his health and with preservation of his life.

Dropping to verse 6, David gives the backstory of this situation. He had needed God’s help because of his own pride. It was all David’s fault.

[30:6] David recalls a particularly prosperous time in his life, a time when he was enjoying tranquillity, ease, rest, and comfort. And, looking back, he admits that his affluence went to his head. He bragged, “I’ll never be shaken. I’ve got it made. Nothing and nobody can take me down. I’m unstoppable. Look what I’ve built!” 

Notice the first-person pronouns have turned from God to himself. “I said in my prosperity ‘I will never be moved.’” It was a time of self-confidence, self-assuredness, and self-glorification. 

Our world now, perhaps like David’s world then, champions these attitudes: “Be your own person, your true self; love yourself, listen to yourself, trust yourself; follow your heart, know your truth.” As most of us know—and as David certainly knew—God has a slightly different take on human self-sufficiency. [Prov 3:5–8; Jer 9:23–24] 

Self-sufficiency is a lie; independence a declaration of war against the God who sustains us. David forgot that and, for a moment, drunk with what looked like evidence of his own power, he started to take credit that didn’t belong to him. In reality, [30:7a]. 

By “my mountain” David could be referring to his kingdom, his life, or his influence but, whatever it is, it’s immovable and it was put there by God’s favour and not by David’s prowess.

God had given him his prosperity, his kingdom, and even his life. And when David forgot that and tried to take credit, God wasn’t pleased. [30:7b] David had said to God, “I don’t need you!” and God said to David, “Okay, we’ll see,” and removed his hand of blessing, apparently allowing illness and enemies into David’s life.

If a child is stepping into oncoming traffic, their parent is not worried about hurting their arm when pulling him out of the way. The small pain is worth the greater safety. Church, when we step into the oncoming traffic of our sin, our Heavenly Father will sometimes yank us out of the way, causing pain to spare our lives. Hebrews points this out quoting both Job and Solomon: [Heb 12:6–7].

God pulled David out of the way of his own pride, allowing hardship enough to wake him up. And it worked. David snapped back to God-consciousness. [30:8] He cried for mercy. And what did he say? [30:9–10] “Lord, if this discipline is the end of my life on earth then it’s the end of my praise on earth. Let me live and I’ll keep worshipping!” Notice the focus has again shifted away from David and toward God.

This is what God did for David: liberation and vindication, restoration and preservation. And he did it all in the face of David’s prideful rebellion. God showed himself to be a personal and merciful God, but also a God who corrects his people. God restored a wayward child to fellowship through chastisement. This is what God did for David.

Does any of that sound familiar? Has God ever spared your life, healed your body, unclouded your mind, delivered you from opposition, or restored your reputation? Has the Lord ever showed you his mercy, kindness, power, and love? 

Has God provided, guarded, or restored your marriage? Has he filled your fridge, clothed your body, sheltered your head? 

Has God brought you to live in a country—whether by birth or relocation—where you’re free to worship, free to speak, free to work, free to grow? Has he given you family and friends who love you and support you?

Has God ever corrected you, disciplined you, or educated you on the effects of sin by allowing you to experience their consequences? Has he ever brought you back to himself, broken you of your self-sufficiency, or reminded you of your need for him and his graciousness and willingness to provide?


We could go on all day describing what God has done for us and, I’m certain, David could have filled much more than a twelve-verse psalm with his examples. But, with what he’s said here, we need to notice what David says he’ll do because of what God did.

[30:1a] To extol is to exalt, to lift high, to brag about, and to cherish. David says, “Lord God in heaven, I will give you all the credit because you deserve it. I used to think I did but I’ve recently been reminded (thank you, very much) that that could not be further from the truth. You deserve it. You are merciful, patient, and powerful. You sustain me, heal me, vindicate me, and love me. You are my God and I will praise your name!” David opens this psalm by telling us what he’s going to do because of what God did.

And he closes the same way, bracketing the entire psalm with his intentions. [30:11–12]

In one sense, David uses what God has done as fuel for thanksgiving, as motivation for worship. As one author has said, “[Praise is the] rent we owe to God; the larger the farm the greater the rent should be.” David remembers just how much land he has.

But, more than that, David understands that, in some ways, he’s been delivered by God for the purpose of thanking God. [30:9] It’s a rhetorical question. It won’t. But a promise is implied here: “God if you spare me, I will do what the dust can’t do. I will stop praising and thanking myself and, instead, praise and thank you.”

David was “lifted up” so he could lift God up. He was healed to be God’s herald. He was saved to say “thank you” to God.

You and I are cared for so that we will be beacons of light. We’re reconciled to God so that we can be ministers of reconciliation. We are forgiven much so we can forgive much. We experience God’s grace so that we can be billboards of gratitude. 

In Psalm 30, David is being reminded of this purpose: to declare with thanksgiving the worthiness of his Creator and God, the one who delivers him, vindicates him, cares for him, and corrects him.


Convinced of this reality, David invites others to join him. Right in the middle of the psalm we find what David calls God’s people to do. [30:4–5]

The pronouns shift again to the second person—“you all,” God’s people—and David uses the same verbs that he uses at the end of the psalm: “sing praise” and “give thanks.” Motivated and compelled by all that God has done for him, David’s going to dedicate his life to thankful worship and he’s calling for all of God’s people to join him. 

Why? Because what’s true of David is true for us all: God’s anger against sin—his discipline and correction—is as brief as it is needed and deserved, but his blessings are forever. The sting of hardships may last a moment, but the rejoicing in what they produce in us is enduring.

David learned this lesson and, with it fresh in his mind and brimming over with thankfulness, he invited others to join him in grateful praise. 

And God is inviting you and I to join in as well. “The people of God who have stopped being thankful have fallen asleep in life.” Let’s be a church that’s wide awake. Let’s be a people who are characterized, yes, by grace, truth, service, love, and devotion, but also by gratitude to a God who has lavished his favour upon each of us and all of us together in ways that we will spend eternity exploring. 

We’re to be motivated by gratitude and to model gratitude, calling one another to sing praise and give thanks.

Give thanks for food, for friends, for family. Give thanks for a good night sleep and for recovery from headaches. Give thanks for a bill that was smaller than anticipated and for an encouraging word from a coworker. Give thanks for sunshine and for seasons, for finding your keys and for indoor plumbing. 

Give thanks for the indwelling, sealing, keeping, drawing, convicting, leading, gifting, empowering, and unifying work of the Holy Spirit. Give thanks for the power of the gospel. Give thanks for peace that surpasses understanding, for comfort in times of crisis, for hope in times of trouble. Give thanks for liberation, restoration, preservation, and vindication. 

Give thanks for Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Give thanks for the salvation he purchased for us and for the everlasting life he promises us who have believed in him for it. Give thanks for the incarnation of Jesus, the life of Jesus, the crucifixion of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, the ascension of Jesus, the current ministry of Jesus, and the certain return of Jesus.

Truly, we are asleep if we, as God’s people, stop being thankful.

Now, I want us to apply this text in a couple of ways right now. First, we’re going to pray Psalm 30 back to God, expressing our gratitude in a similar way that David did.

But second, after we pray, we’re going to take communion together. In some Christian circles, taking the bread and cup in remembrance of Christ’s death is called “the eucharist,” a title which comes from the Greek word meaning “thanksgiving.” At the Table of the Lord we commune with one another and with our God around a meal of gratitude. And we’re going to do that in a moment. But, first, let’s pray Psalm 30 together now.

Our Heavenly Father, we join with David in praising your holy name today! You have saved us, lifted us from the depths, vindicated us from opposition, healed us, spared us, led us, provided for us, and sustained us. You have shown your grace and kindness to each of us in ways and in depths that we will spend eternity uncovering and understanding.

So, we sing to you. We honour your holy name. Help us, by the power of your Spirit, to stay faithful to you so we can continue to praise you as you deserve. 

We thank you for your righteous anger against all sin, that which brings only devastation and death. We thank you that you love us enough to correct us, to alert us to our rebellion, and to call us back into sweet fellowship with yourself. With thank you for your infinite wisdom. Give us ears to hear your correctives, eyes to see our errors, and hearts soft to repentance and restoration. We thank you that your anger is momentary and your favour is eternal.

We confess that there are days when we sometimes believe we are self-sufficient and that we’ve built what we enjoy. And when we lift ourselves up over you, we shouldn’t be surprised when you turn away, we shouldn’t be surprised when we bring calamity upon our own lives.

So, when that happens, and when we reverse course and cry out to you, we thank you that you are so gracious and full of mercy. When we have made poor choices and then seek your face, you have been our helper. Yes, you have turned our sorrows into joys! You have removed the garment of heaviness and filled our hearts with laughter and delight and life! So, we will not be silent. We will sing songs of great joy to your holy name. We can’t thank you enough and yet we offer you what we can, and call others to do the same! 

You are our Abba, our Father. We raise our voices to you in great adoration. Because of Jesus, your Son and our Saviour. Amen!

As we now take the emblems, let me simply read a few passages of Scripture in close succession and, as you hear these familiar, perfect words, allow your heart to be filled with gratitude.

[Luke 23:33–47; 1 Pet 2:21–25; 1 Cor 11:23–26]

With thankful, thankful hearts, brothers and sisters, let’s eat and drink together.


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Josiah has served the Oakridge Bible Chapel family as one of its elders and one of its pastoral staff members since September 2018, before which he ministered as an associate pastor to a local congregation in the Canadian prairies. Josiah's desire is to be used by God to help equip the church for ministry, both while gathered (edification) and while scattered (evangelization). He is married to Patricia, and together they have five children—Jonah, Henry, Nathaniel, Josephine, and Benjamin.

Josiah Boyd

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