Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive to my pleas for mercy!
If You, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O LORD, who could stand?
But with You there is forgiveness that You may be feared.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than the watchman for the morning,
more than the watchman for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with Him is plentiful redemption.
And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Psalm 130 belongs to a group of Psalms known as the Songs of Ascents (Psalms 120-134).These musical poems were sung by pilgrims making their ascent to Jerusalem to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Some of the Songs of Ascents begin and end with a sense of joyous expectation. Psalm 130 begins with a desperate cry for help.
1Out of the depths I cry to You, O LORD!
2O Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
The psalmist is in a deep place. His cry is that of a man who’s just been told he has cancer. This is the cry of a single young woman exhausted by the well-intentioned counsel of married friends telling her she will not find fulfillment until she’s found a husband, settled down and starts having children. This is the cry of the person struggling with same-sex attraction – wondering why did God make them this way. This is the cry of a recent university graduate shouldering a mountain of debt and no job prospects. This is the cry of a woman who has kept a past abortion secret from her husband and wonders if her recent miscarriage is punishment from God.
This is the cry of a man who has fallen into a deep place. The inscape of his soul is barren, cold and desolate. In this deep place he discovers there is no grace and no mercy to be found by looking inward. There is no help found by seeking strength from within. His only hope, his only help is to cry out to God for both. “O Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!”
Deep places give birth to a deep hope in God.
Rather than bemoan how he ended up in a deep place, the psalmist seeks help from the only One who can lift him out. His cry is desperate yet it is catalyzed by trust. You do not cry out for God to help unless you truly believe He can help. Whoever said, “God helps those who help themselves,” missed the mark. “God helps those who cannot help themselves.” God helps those desperate enough to trust Him to rescue them from the deep places.
Our hope of deliverance is grounded in something more than God’s able willingness to rescue us. At the same time the deep places give birth to a deep hope in God, they also intensify our trust in His fearsome mercy.
3If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
Where we would carve our past sins into granite God erases them. Where we would write our past iniquities in indelible ink, God washes them out. Where we would tattoo our past mistakes upon our soul, God bleaches them away – forever! God does not mark our iniquities so we will fear Him more than the failures of our past.
God’s forgiveness means we do not have to carry the weight of past sins. We are free to follow and serve him without guilt or shame. There is forgiveness for the recovering addict who stumbles. There is forgiveness for the father who exasperates his child. There is forgiveness for the young woman who’s had the abortion. There is forgiveness for the person caught in the tension of same-sex attraction. There is forgiveness for people like you and me – people who fall into deep places because try as we might, we do not always resist temptation. We fall. The good news this: the LORD does not mark iniquities because there is forgiveness with Him so that He may be feared, so that He may be trusted, and so that He may be followed.
Once again, the psalmist does not waste time bemoaning what led him to fall off the edge into the deep place he was in. To the contrary, the past is the past. His only hope is to look to God to help him move forward. His only hope is to cry out for grace, mercy and forgiveness. His only hope is to spend the rest of his life living in the fear of the LORD because the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. And once the decision is made to fear the LORD, He increases our passion for His presence.
5I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
The deep places increase our passion for God’s presence.
There is a relationship between waiting and the word of God. The patience to wait is accompanied by time spent contemplating the hope found in the promises of God. To wait for the LORD is to be active. It is to be active in reading, studying, memorizing and contemplating the Scripture. While prayer is an excellent way to pursue the presence of God; prayer that arises from the active study and contemplation of God’s word intensifies the experience of His presence. There is great value in focusing our heart and mind on the fact there is forgiveness with God. There is great value in concentrating our attention on the able willingness of God to listen to our plea for help.
Those who hunger and thirst for God will be satisfied. And when they are, when God rescues us from the deep places we will have the able willingness to help others who have fallen off the edge into deep places. Psalm 130 begins with a desperate cry for help. It ends with an authentic exhortation:
7O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
8And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.
The steadfast love of God inspires a steadfast hope in Him. Therefore there is always deep hope for those in deep places
You think about that.