Daily Family Worship

Psalm 130: Out of the Depths

by | Jul 2, 2024

psalm 130

In a very emphatic sense, this is a song of ascent; for it climbs steadily from the abyss of penitence to the summits of hope! It falls into two divisions of four verses each – of which, the former breathes the prayer of a soul that has been penetrated by the consciousness of sin; and the latter sings of the peaceful expectance of one who has tasted God’s forgiving mercy.

In the first group of verses, we hear the Psalmist’s cry. He has called, and he still calls. And his call is indeed the cry of present need! What are these “depths” from which his voice sounds, as that of a man who has fallen into a pit and is sending up a faint call? The expression does not merely refer to his lowliness as a created being, nor to his troubles, nor even to his depression of spirit. There are deeper pits than these – namely, those into which the spirit feels itself going down, when it realizes its sinfulness. Unless a person has been down in that black abyss, he has scarcely cried to God as he ought to do. The beginning of true personal religion is the sense of personal sin.

A dark fear shadows the singer’s soul, in verses 3 and 4; but it is swept away by a joyful assurance. The word translated mark means “to keep or watch”; and here it seems to mean “to take account of,” or “to retain in remembrance,” in order to punish. If God should take man’s sin into account – “O Lord, who shall stand?” No one could sustain that righteous judgment. This thought comes to the Psalmist like a blast of icy air from the north; and it threatens to chill his hope to death, and to blow his cry back into his throat – until he remembers that forgiveness is “with God!” It is inherent in His nature, and it lies at the root of true Godliness. No man reverences, loves, and draws near to God so joyfully and so humbly as he who has experienced His pardoning mercy – lifting the soul from its abyss of sin and misery! Merciful pardon drew the Psalmist lovingly near to God, and it caused him to declare that its great purpose is “that thou mayest be feared” – not only by the recipient, but by beholders as well!

The next stage in the ascent from the depths is in verses 5 and 6, which breathe peaceful and patient hope. A soul which has received God’s forgiveness is thereby led into tranquil, continuous, ever-rewarded waiting upon Him; and hope of new gifts is always springing freshly from this waiting. Such a soul sits quietly at His feet – trusting His love, and looking to Him for light and all else that is needed. The singleness of the object of devout hope, and the longing which is not impatience – characterizing this hope at its noblest – are beautifully painted in the picture that is presented of persons watching and waiting for the morning. Those who have watched through the long night look eagerly to the flush that creeps up in the East, which tells them that their watch is past, and which heralds the stir and life of a new day, with its wakening birds and fresh morning airs. In the same way, the inspired singer’s eyes had turned to the Lord – and to Him alone!

In verses 7 and 8, the Psalmist becomes an evangelist. He invites Israel to unite with him and share in his hope, so that they may also share in his pardon. In the depths, he was alone; he felt as if the only beings in the universe were God and himself. Herein we see how the consciousness of sin isolates, but the sense of forgiveness unites! Whoever has known that “with Jehovah is pardon” is impelled thereby to invite others to learn the same lesson in the same sweet way! The sum of the Divine pardon is surely greater than the total number of all our transgressions. God’s forgiving grace is mightier than all sins, and able to conquer them all!

“He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities” – not only from their consequences in punishment; but also from their power, their guilt, and their penalty. The Psalmist means something a great deal deeper than deliverance from calamities, which conscience declared to be the chastisement of sin. Here he speaks New Testament language! He was sure that God would redeem from all iniquity; but he lived in the twilight-dawn, and had to watch for the morning. But now the Sun of Righteousness has risen for us! The light is the same in quality, although greater in degree: “Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins!”

Lord, we confess that we are indeed in the depths, for we were naturally born into the black abyss of sin. But we also thank Your Holy Spirit for opening our eyes to behold Jesus as the mercy promised, and the Propitiation which You have set forth for our salvation! Amen.

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