Ver. 5.—For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life; literally, for a moment (is passed) in his anger, a life-time in his favour. God’s anger is short-lived in the case of those who, having sinned, repent, and confess their sin, and pray for mercy (see vers. 8–10). His favour, on the contrary, is enduring; it continues all their life. Weeping may endure for a night; rather, at eventide weeping comes to lodge, or to pass the night; but joy cometh in the morning; or, but at morn joy arriveth (comp. Job 33:26; Isa. 26:20; 54:7).
5. For his anger is only for a moment. It is beyond all controversy that life is opposed here to for a moment, and consequently signifies long continuance, or the constant progress of time from day to day. David thus intimates that if God at any time chastise his people, he not only mitigates the rigour of their punishment, but is immediately appeased, and moderates his anger; whereas he prolongs his kindness and favour for a long time. And, as I have already observed, he chose rather to couch his discourse in general terms, than to speak particularly of himself, that the godly might all perceive that this continued manifestation of God’s favour belongs to them. We are hereby taught, however, with how much meekness of spirit, and with what prompt obedience he submitted his back to God’s rod. We know that from the very first bloom of youth, during almost his whole life, he was so tried by a multiplied accumulation of afflictions, that he might have been accounted miserable and wretched above all other men; yet in celebrating the goodness of God, he acknowledges that he had been lightly afflicted only for a short period, and as it were in passing. Now, what inspired him with so great meekness and equanimity of mind was, that he put a greater value upon God’s benefits, and submitted himself more quietly to the endurance of the cross, than the world is accustomed to do. If we are prosperous, we devour God’s blessings without feeling that they are his, or, at least, we indolently allow them to slip away; but if any thing sorrowful or adverse befall us, we immediately complain of his severity, as if he had never dealt kindly and mercifully with us. In short, our own fretfulness and impatience under affliction makes every minute an age; while, on the other hand, our repining and ingratitude lead us to imagine that God’s favour, however long it may be exercised towards us, is but for a moment. It is our own perversity, therefore, in reality, which hinders us from perceiving that God’s anger is but of short duration, while his favour is continued towards us during the whole course of our life. Nor does God in vain so often declare that he is merciful and gracious to a thousand generations, long-suffering, slow to anger, and ready to forgive. And as what he says by the prophet Isaiah has a special reference to the kingdom of Christ, it must be daily fulfilled, “For a small moment have I afflicted thee, but with everlasting mercies will I gather thee,” (Isa. 54:7.) Our condition in this world, I confess, involves us in such wretchedness, and we are harassed by such a variety of afflictions, that scarcely a day passes without some trouble or grief. Moreover, amid so many uncertain events, we cannot be otherwise than full of daily anxiety and fear. Whithersoever, therefore, men turn themselves, a labyrinth of evils surrounds them. But however much God may terrify and humble his faithful servants, with manifold signs of his displeasure, he always besprinkles them with the sweetness of his favour to moderate and assuage their grief. If they weigh, therefore, his anger and his favour in an equal balance, they will always find it verified, that while the former is but for a moment, the latter continues to the end of life; nay, it goes beyond it, for it were a grievous mistake to confine the favour of God within the boundaries of this transitory life. And it is unquestionably certain, that none but those whose minds have been raised above the world by a taste of heavenly life really experience this perpetual and uninterrupted manifestation of the divine favour, which enables them to bear their chastisements with cheerfulness. Paul, accordingly, that he may inspire us with invincible patience, refers to this in 2 Cor. 4:17, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.” In the meantime, it is to be observed that God never inflicts such heavy and continued chastisements on his people, without frequently mitigating them, and sweetening their bitterness with some consolation. Whoever, therefore, directs his mind to meditation upon the heavenly life, will never faint under his afflictions, however long continued; and, comparing them with the exceeding great and manifold favours of God towards him, he will put such honour on the latter as to judge that God’s goodness, in his estimation, outweighs his displeasure a hundred-fold. In the second clause, David repeats the same thing figuratively: Weeping will lodge in the evening, and rejoicing shall come in the morning. He does not simply mean, that the affliction would be only for one night, but that if the darkness of adversity should fall upon the people of God, as it were, in the evening, or at the setting of the sun, light would soon after arise upon them, to comfort their sorrow-stricken spirits. The amount of David’s instruction is, that were we not too headstrong, we would acknowledge that the Lord, even when he appears to overwhelm us for a time with the darkness of affliction, always seasonably ministers matter of joy, just as the morning arises after the night.
5. This comparison, marvellously expressed here, is carried even further in the New Testament, in the concept of sorrow producing joy (2 Cor. 4:17; John 16:20–22; but cf. also Ps. 26:6f.) and in the contrast between the momentary and the eternal (not merely the lifelong), and between troubles that ‘weigh little’ and a ‘weight of … glory which is out of all proportion to them’ (2 Cor. 4:17, jb). The word for tarry, in our verse, suggests by itself the overnight visitor; the line could be crudely translated ‘At evening, weeping may arrive for the night …’.
5. “For his anger endureth but a moment.” David here alludes to those dispensations of God’s providence which are the chastisement ordered in his paternal government towards his erring children, such as the plague which fell upon Jerusalem for David’s sins; these are but short judgments, and they are removed as soon as real penitence sues for pardon and presents the great and acceptable sacrifice. What a mercy is this, for if the Lord’s wrath smoked for a long season, flesh would utterly fail before him. God puts up his rod with great readiness as soon as its work is done; he is slow to anger and swift to end it. If his temporary and fatherly anger be so severe that it had need be short, what must be the terror of eternal wrath exercised by the Judge towards his adversaries? “In his favour is life.” As soon as the Lord looked favourably upon David, the city lived, and the king’s heart lived too. We die like withered flowers when the Lord frowns, but his sweet smile revives us as the dews refresh the fields. His favour not only sweetens and cheers life, but it is life itself, the very essence of life. Who would know life, let him seek the favour of the Lord. “Weeping may endure for a night;” but nights are not for ever. Even in the dreary winter the day-star lights his lamp. It seems fit that in our nights the dews of grief should fall. When the Bridegroom’s absence makes it dark within, it is meet that the widowed soul should pine for a renewed sight of the Well-beloved. “But joy cometh in the morning.” When the Sun of Righteousness comes, we wipe our eyes, and joy chases out intruding sorrow. Who would not be joyful that knows Jesus? The first beams of the morning bring us comfort when Jesus is the day-dawn, and all believers know it to be so. Mourning only lasts till morning: when the night is gone the gloom shall vanish. This is adduced as a reason for saintly singing, and forcible reason it is; short nights and merry days call for the psaltery and harp.
30:5 Then he gives the reason for this praise in the form of two extraordinarily beautiful contrasts. Knox’s translation of this verse is priceless:
For a moment lasts His anger,
for a life-time His love;
sorrow is but the guest of a night,
and joy comes in the morning.
Let me pause here with a personal story. There was a time when the MacDonald family was plunged into deep sorrow. Friends trooped in to express their condolences, but nothing seemed to assuage the grief. Their words were well-intentioned but inadequate. Then Dr. H. A. Ironside sent a brief note in which he quoted Psalm 30:5:
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
That did it. The bands of sorrow were snapped!
Since then I have had occasion to share this verse with many other believers who were passing through the dark tunnel of grief, and always the verse has evoked a nod of gratitude.
30:5 — For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
Our holy God must judge sin, but because He is a loving God, He takes great pleasure in showing mercy and bestowing grace upon us. Hard times may be a fact of life on earth, but one day He will wipe away all our tears (Rev. 7:17).
30:5 there is a moment While Yahweh’s anger (aph) lasts only for a short period of time (Isa 54:7), His favor (ratson) is permanent.
in the morning Just as night becomes day, the psalmist’s sorrow has become joy. The morning often represents restoration or blessing in the psalms (Ps 90:14; Lam 3:22–23).
30:5 The discipline of the Lord is never pleasant, but His anger does not last forever. Joy does come in the morning (cf. Heb. 12:5–11; James 1:2–4; 1 Pet. 1:6–9).
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 Calvin, J., & Anderson, J. (2010). Commentary on the Book of Psalms (Vol. 1, pp. 488–490). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Kidner, D. (1973). Psalms 1–72: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 15, p. 146). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 27-57 (Vol. 2, p. 45). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 590). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
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