Psalm 130 A song of ascents. (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.
What a beautiful song of God’s unfailing love and forgiveness.
Psalm 130 is one of fifteen psalms called the Song of Ascents. Jewish pilgrims would sing these songs as they entered Jerusalem for the three annual festivals as required by God in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 16:16-17).
In other Bible versions, Psalm 130 is titled, My Soul Waits for the Lord (ESV); A Prayer for Mercy (ICB); Hope in the LORD’s Forgiving Love (NASB); and Waiting for the Redemption of the LORD (NKJV); among others.
God is so good, faithful, and merciful. His redeeming love is the greatest and most important thing in our lives, in this world, and throughout time.
And as the Jewish pilgrims climbed the hill into Jerusalem- and then the steps up to the temple- they gave their hearts to God again step by step. May we also give our hearts to the Lord as we study this psalm.
From the depths of despair, O LORD, I call for your help. Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer. Psalm 130:1-2 NLT
The "depths of despair" is a horrible, dark place. Have you been there before? This dark place that the author finds himself in, and maybe you have too, is due to sin. And from this dark place of sin and despair, the author reaches up to God the Father for help. Begs for help. Using two different Hebrew names for God, the author cries out to the One who saves. The only who can save. He calls to the "LORD" (translated YHWH/Yahweh or Jehovah), the covenant name of God and a name that the Jewish people believe is too sacred to even say out loud. Secondly, the author calls to the "Lord" (translated Adonai), a Hebrew word meaning "master" or "the one who has lordship over him." Lord, hear me. This plea not only begs of God to turn His ear toward His son or daughter but requires a closeness. And really, we know that God never moves away from His children. We are the ones who do the moving. We are the ones who turn our backs on our loving Father. He is still always there, waiting. God hear me. God come close enough to me that you can hear me.
Good men may be in the depths of temporal and spiritual trouble; but good men in such cases look only to their God, and they stir themselves up to be more instant and earnest in prayer than at other times. The depth of their distress moves the depths of their being; and from the bottom of their hearts an exceeding great and bitter cry rises unto the one living and true God.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
LORD, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you. Psalm 130:3-4 NLT
We are all sinners. No one is perfect; we all make mistakes. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden as recorded in the book of Genesis, mankind has fought against temptation and sin. Never really winning. We can never be “good enough” for God’s love. Ever.
We can never win God’s attention with goodness or good works. Not ever.
Thankfully, that is not how God works.
The Apostle Pauel wrote to the church in Rome,
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23
But praise the Lord the verse continues. Right?
Yes, we are all sinners and fall short of what God expects of us. But He has made a way. When Adam and Eve sinned, God did not leave them. He closed off the garden. And there were big consequences for their choices. But He never left them. He still watched over them, protected them, and guided them. He still walked with them.
God made a way. Thank you, Lord, for the rest of that verse,
and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:24
Prior to the redemption of Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins, how did believers find forgiveness? Psalm 130:4 says, “but you offer forgiveness.” All of humanity, beginning to end depends upon the redeeming love of Jesus on the cross. Believers of the Old Testament did not know the story of Jesus, but they knew He would come. They believed. They had faith in the promises found in God’s Word. And Jesus is spoken of throughout the Old Testament.
Faith in God and His Word is the basis for what we believe- and has been throughout time. Faith.
I am counting on the LORD; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word. I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn, yes, more than sentries long for the dawn. Psalm 130:5-6 NLT I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning- yes, more than those who watch for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6 NKJV
This is faith. The author begins his song by calling for the Lord’s attention. Hear me, Lord. Then, he waits for the Lord and has great faith that the Lord will answer him. He believes that, as sure as the dawn comes, the Lord will forgive and redeem.
Why or how? Because it is written in God’s Word. And because God has always been faithful.
As the weary watchman longs for morning to relieve him of a nighttime of stressful wakefulness, so we wait for the Lord. Dawn will come. It always does.
The Lord will respond to our cries and our needs. He always does.
If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows. He himself will redeem Israel from every kind of sin. Psalm 130:7-8 NLT
Where the author begins by crying out to the Lord for help and forgiveness, he ends with a reminder of God’s promise to all the people of Israel- a reminder of God’s covenant hesed love (translated- unfailing love). The author has been redeemed, and he wants to tell others about it. The one who knows God’s forgiveness and unfailing love wants to share it with the world.
Do you feel the same way?
Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. Psalm 66:16 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
My friend, have you been redeemed? Have you known God’s unfailing love (hesed)?
Follow the author of Psalm 130’s lead, tell others. Tell all. And if you can’t speak it, show it. Show the love of God by loving your neighbor, by loving your family, and being different (set apart) from our culture and this world so that when others see you, they wonder what the difference is.
And Jesus said,
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
And finally, put your hope in the LORD, for His love is unfailing, and with Him is full redemption.
Father in heaven, thank you for this beautiful song, and thank you for your Word that teaches us, guides us, and encourages us. When we study your Word, you meet us there. You speak there. You are present there. Thank you. Give us strength and wisdom and love to be a light to others today. Thank you for your promises and faithfulness throughout time and even now. We love you. Amen.