Psalm 130

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 18, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“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, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” (Psalm 130)

This psalm is part of the collection of the 15 songs of ascent (like this one and this one) that were prayed by the Israelites as they would ascent up to the temple in Jerusalem. While some of the songs of ascent focus on praise, others like this one are more of a lament. This psalm is also considered to be one of the seven penitential psalms (along with Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, and 143) because of its aspects of realizing the weight of our sin and confessing it.

This psalm begins in verses 1-2 with a lament, crying out to God. Being in “the depths” is a metaphor for adversity or trouble in a person’s life. It’s like that feeling of being in a pit that you can’t get out of because of the weight of the negative things going on in life. It may even feel like alienation from God because we’re so deep into a bad situation. But even in a place like that, or maybe especially in a place like that, we can and should cry out to God. The psalmist prays for God to hear his cry and to give him mercy, as it’s likely that whatever bad situation he is in is because of a sin he has committed.

In verses 3-4, the psalmist recognizes his sin and knows God will forgive him. In the courts of ancient Israel, if you were going on trial you would be asked if you consider yourself to be innocent or guilty of the crime. If you plead guilty, you would remain seated, whereas if you plead innocent, you would stand. The psalmist uses that imagery here, saying that there is no way he could stand in innocence if God remembered all his sins. But he is so thankful that God does not keep a record like that, and that there is forgiveness available to him. The psalmist knows that he needs to be forgiven of the wrongs he has committed in order to be able to serve God well.

The psalm moves on in verses 5-6 to a sense of waiting for the Lord. He knows he needs God in his life, and he must patiently wait on whatever God is going to do through him. While he waits, he puts his hope in a word from God. That likely refers to waiting on a promise of salvation or deliverance, as at the time this psalm was written they likely didn’t have the Word of God in the form of the Scriptures yet. The psalmist waits on this word like a watchman waits for morning to come. The watchmen guarded the city against attacks overnight so its residents could sleep peacefully. They know the morning will come and they wait expectantly for it.

This hope then turns to confidence in God in verses 7-8. The psalmist is putting his hope and confidence individually in God, but he also called for the whole nation of Israel to do the same. The Lord is the only one who can provide unfailing love and redemption, and the psalmist is confident that He will. He is the one who will redeem all of Israel from their sins.

While the psalmist didn’t have the Bible as we have it today, and he was writing long before Jesus came to earth, we can see even more clearly that we should put our hope in God as well. We have the true Word of God - Jesus Christ - and we have the Bible to show us how God is revealing Himself to us. We don’t have to hope in an unknown God but one that we can have a relationship with.

We need to feel the weight of our sinfulness just as the psalmist did, but from the depths of our sin we too can call out to God to show us mercy. When we have faith in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, we know that God will forgive us when we truly repent of our sin. Because of that, we have the certain hope of life eternal with God. We know that He is the only way to get out of the pit of our sin and be truly redeemed.

Put your hope in God and His unfailing love today, and live out this week in the confidence of His redemption of your life.

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