A song of ascents.
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord,(Ps. 130:1-8 NIV)
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
Psalm 130 is listed as one of the seven penitential psalms (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143).
From a place of deep and overwhelming danger, the Psalmist cries out to Yahweh, the covenant God. People experience depths of poverty, sorrow, confusion, and pain. The depth that the psalmist cried from was the depth of the awareness and guilt of sin (verse 3).
Translators use the same word ‘Lord’ to translate both the name Yahweh (LORD) in the first line of this psalm, and Adonai (Lord) in the second line. Each word is a title or name for the God of the Bible, the Creator of heaven and earth. Here, the psalmist called out to Adonai, His master and ruler, asking Him to hear his voice, knowing that for God to hear His people is to help His people. The plea to God is emphasized using repetition. Spurgeon makes an unusual but telling remark about this verse, ‘It is better for our prayer to be heard than answered. If the Lord were to make an absolute promise to answer all our requests, it might be rather a curse than a blessing.’
In asking for God to help, the Psalmist also understood that he had no confident reason to ask or to be heard by God apart from His great forgiveness. Without this graciousness, no one could stand before Yahweh Adonai (You, LORD…Lord). If the Lord should mark sin with a strict and severe eye, as a judge, to charge it upon the person sinning, no person could bear it. To stand is a judicial phrase, and notes a person being absolved or justified after a trial, as opposed to falling.
Previous relationship with God had taught the psalmist that there is forgiveness with God. When we become aware of our sin, we should remember that there is forgiveness with God. You may not find forgiveness with other people. You may not even be able to forgive yourself. There is one who will forgive you and that is God. When God speaks forgiveness, it can never be unspoken. Your own fear and doubt and misgiving may question your forgiveness, but it cannot revoke that forgiveness.
One of the great purposes of God’s forgiveness is to build a sense of gratitude and reverence in those He forgives. His pardon should lead to purity and His forgiveness to an appropriate fear of displeasing the One who has been so gracious.
Having made his cry from the depths to God (verses 1-2), the Psalmist then is determined to wait upon God and the rescue He would bring. The waiting was not passive or inactive. The psalmist used the time to actively set his hope upon God’s promises, revealed in His word.
The Psalmist used a vivid image to express his patient anticipation in waiting on God. The figure of watchman in the darkness of the early morning is used, scanning the horizon for the first sign of the dawn. The watchman doesn’t doubt that morning will come, but only wonders when, and watches for it diligently. So it was for the Psalmist who watched for God and the help God promised to bring.
The Psalmist turns from the personal to the public. What the Psalmist learned in waiting upon God and trusting Him from the depths is now put to use as he calls upon all of God’s people to put their hope in the covenant LORD. The Psalmist put his faith and hope in the Lord Himself, not in the mercy or redemption God would bring. He looked to the Giver rather than the gift.
What the Psalmist learned in his personal life he can apply to all the people of God. When God’s people humbly look to Him, there is mercy and abundant redemption for both the individual and the community.
The confident conclusion to the psalm is demonstrated in trust that God will indeed bring the redemption and rescue to both the individual and all the people who are overwhelmed in the depths of their sin. What God has demonstrated in the private life, He will also perform for the community that cries out to Him.
God forgave my sins in Jesus’ name:
Lord God thank You that we can find forgiveness for our sin. Help us to be forgiving of others who sin against us. Thank You for mercy and grace that gives us what we don’t deserve and holds back from us what we do deserve. Help us to enjoy the liberty of forgiveness, for we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.