Dedication of the House

Written on: July 8, 2024

Article by: Thayer Salisbury

Psalm 30

We do not know when the headings were added to the psalms. We do not know who added those headings. Some scholars consider the headings helpful. Others consider them worse than useless. Because of these doubts, we have paid little heed to the headings in this series. I normally ignore the them. But in regard to psalm 30 we will assume the accuracy of the heading and the accuracy of the KJV translation of the heading. The heading reads, “A Psalm and song at the dedication of the house of David.”1

While this is not absolute proof of the occasion, it is interesting to note that this heading and translation is supported by the LXX. We see from Deuteronomy 20:5 that the Israelites were in the habit of holding some kind of dedication ceremony for their houses. This opens for us a very interesting way of applying this Psalm in our lives.

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David’s life had been full of ups and downs. He grew up in a humble home, but at least he had a home. He was given a place in the King’s house. But when King Saul became jealous of him, David was driven to hiding in the wilderness. Sometimes he hid in caves and sometimes even in foreign lands. Eventually he was vindicated, became king, and was able to build the finest of houses. If we view this Psalm as a prayer for the dedication of David’s new house, this Psalm reminds us that all our life is to be dedicated to the glory of God.

All we have

We ought to dedicate all that we have to the glory of God. Does it bother anyone else that we hold dedication services for our church buildings, but not for our own houses? We ought to treat our houses, our cars, and everything else we have as a gift from the Lord. We ought to dedicate these things to his glory.

We ought to remember our humble origins whenever we enter our fine houses or drive our comfortable cars. Something like that may be the purpose of verses 1-3.

“I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. 2O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 3O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.”

All that happens

We ought to expect and even rejoice in the ups and downs of life. That seems to be what is being done in verses 4-7.

“Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. 5For his anger is but for a moment, and his favour is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. 6As for me, I said in my prosperity, ‘I shall never be moved.’ 7By your favour, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed.”

David faced plenty of adversity in life. The followers of Jesus are warned to expect adversity (Jn 15:20; 16:33; 1 Tim 3:12). We are even to consider ourselves blessed in such circumstances (Mt 5:11). Yet we often “wonder why the test when we try to do our best.”2 Our adversities may serve many purposes. Perhaps the most notable being that adversity may be necessary to keep us from being too self-reliant. So we should lay our circumstances before the Lord and even thank him for driving us to depend on him.

All we do

We ought to live to his glory. We are not to seek the ending of ill-health or other adversity just for our own comfort. It should be sought for God’s glory. And if he delivers us from our difficulties, we ought to praise him for that deliverance. We ought to praise him forever.

“’To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: 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? 10Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!’ 11You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, 12that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”

Possibly the KJV understanding of the heading is a mistake. Perhaps it does not refer to David’s house but to the temple. Maybe, whatever the heading is trying to indicate, it was added hundreds of years later and is uninspired. Maybe this Psalm did not have to do with the dedication of a house at all. We do not know for sure. But the lesson is valid. We are to dedicate all of life — the ups, the downs, the houses, lands, talents, everything — to the glory of God. Zechariah 14:20 tells us that in the restoration of Jerusalem, even the bells on the harnesses of the horses were to be dedicated to God. Colossians 3:17 tells us, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Then in Colossians 2:23 we are told, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

Let’s take a careful look at our lives. What are we holding back from the Lord? Let us dedicate it to Him. Let us do it without delay.

1 The ESV translates the heading as referring to the temple rather than to David’s house. There is little evidence to decide the matter. But the reference to being drawn up and delivered from foes seems to fit David much better than Solomon. In fact, the ESV heading is almost contradictory in that the psalm is called a psalm of David and yet is supposed to be for the dedication of the temple (which was not dedicated until seven years after David had died).

2 Charles Tindley, in the song “When Morning Comes.”