Weds 18 May - Psalm 130
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
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Meditation on Psalm 130
Another short psalm but another psalm packed with encouragement and challenge.
Spurgeon opens up in this psalm: ‘You notice that this is one of the Songs of Ascents; that is, Psalms ascending by steps, and it begins at the very bottom: “Out of the depths.” But it gradually climbs up to the heights: “He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” May your experience and mine, beloved, be like a ladder, — upward, always upward, step by step, ever rising, and getting nearer to our God!
- Verses 1-2 I CRY…
Remember that these ‘songs of ascents’ are being sung on the way to Jerusalem or possibly while ascending Mount Zion or the steps of the Temple. And yet the psalmist starts at a very low starting point – ‘out of the depths….’
Just pause for a while – there are so many people who are down in the depths – depths of despair, depths of poverty, depths of doubt and fear, depths of weakness, depths of war, depths of sorrow, depths of pain, depths of confusion, depths of distress – are there others?
Maybe, if you or I were asked to rewrite this psalm in our own words, out of our own experiences, starting with the words, “out of the depths…”, we might include the above – some or all. We might even add our own ’depths of…’.
A church leader asked a lady in his congregation, “How are you today?”. Her reply was not what the minister was hoping for. She said, “I am all right under the circumstances.” He then told her off – “Christians should always be on top of their circumstances, never under them.” Points for pastoral care? Nil point!
My breakdown 30 years ago wasn’t caused by being on top of my circumstances. Quite the opposite – I was being buried by my circumstances – ‘Out of the depths…’
The psalmist in our psalm is in the depths of the sinfulness of sin.
Come back to Psalm 51 where David cries out, ‘I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.’
In Psalm 40, David refers to ‘the pit of destruction’ and in Psalm 69, David says, ‘I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters and the flood sweeps over me.’
In Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan writes about the ‘Slough of Despond.’ This is a fictional, deep bog in to which Christian sinks under the weight of his sins and his sense of guilt for them.
‘Out of the depths I cry…’ Notice this is the present tense. It’s not a once and for all cry. It’s a cry that will be repeated on many occasions and in different circumstances.
He doesn’t just cry out as if, in desperation, someone might hear.
No, ‘I cry out to you LORD.’ Time and time again as we have journeyed through the psalms, we read of the psalmist turning to the LORD.
Here is a cry of desperation that leads to a cry of trust as it leads to a cry of hope. There is no-one else to turn to when we are ‘in the depths…’
And as he cries out, so he pleads with the LORD.
- ‘LORD hear my voice’
- ‘Listen to me’
- ‘Have mercy on me’
The psalmist longs for the LORD to hear him. Don’t let’s give up on crying to the LORD.
- Verses 3-4 I AM FORGIVEN
As the psalmist recognises the sinfulness of sin, so he realises that his sin would / should be punished.
How often did I say to our son and daughter, “you’ve done it again; you’ve said it again” with the emphasis on ‘again’
How many times when I was teaching, did I say to a child, “Again? Haven’t you learned from the last time you did that?”
The psalmist asks the question of the LORD – ‘if you kept a record of my sins, I have got no chance. I may as well give up here and now.’
Then comes another ‘BUT…’
‘BUT with you there is forgiveness…’
We come back to Pilgrim’s Progress again as we read that ‘CHRISTIAN came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.’
That’s’ what forgiveness is. This is what the LORD says through Jeremiah: “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)
And David reminds us in Psalm 103:12: ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.’
And the outcome of such forgiveness? We are able to serve the LORD.
- Verses 5-6 I TRUST HIM
The picture of the watchmen is that of one who looks forward to the breaking of the dawn each day. There’s an anticipation and an excitement as the watchmen look for that dawn.
So for us, we wait in excited anticipation – even more intense than the watchmen – because we have the promises of His word.
Therefore, we hope in ‘His Word’.
I am reminded of the chorus we used to sing – ‘The best book to read is the Bible, the best book.
to read is the Bible; if you read it every day, it will help you on your way: Oh, the best book to read is the Bible.’
That’s why, after the Bible reading in church, the reader says, ‘this is the Word of the Lord’, to which we respond, ‘Thanks be to God’.
His Word is to be trusted.
- Verses 7-8 I APPEAL TO THE NATIONS
The psalmist knows and understands that hope placed anywhere else than in the LORD is futile so he appeals to the whole nation to ‘put your hope in the LORD.’
Isn’t that what we pray for across the UK and beyond.
What is the foundation of this hope for our nation, for the nations?
- His unfailing love
- His full redemption
- His personal redemption – ‘He Himself will redeem…’
What a wonderful Saviour is Jesus who has bought us with His blood.
He has certainly lifted us out of the depths. As Psalm 40:2-3 reminds us: ‘He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.’
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