Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 130’

Sometimes I'm not even sure why we bother. I have a wish for peace. I have a wish that the people of this earth will get along and throw down their implements of war. I'm sick of war and death and famine and disease. I'm sick of violence. I'm sick of politics and intrigue. I'm sick of all the hate and discord. I'm sick of the church being a place of ego and not Jesus. I'm sick of the lines that divide us being so apparent.

I'm sick of debt. I'm sick of disease.

I'm sick of the hate that lifts our hands

And raises us from our knees.

Hate, rising, filling us with heat.

Today's readings are as follows: Psalms 128-130; Numbers 22:41-23:12; Romans 7:13-25; Matthew 21:33-46.

Psalm 130 Who hasn't been here? Sunken deep into the pits of some filth, swallowed whole by the depths. It's the proverbial bottom of the barrel. It's the bottom of the ocean. There's no place to look but up. We can't reach out and save ourselves. We can't walk out on our own. We can't see the face of God or another human. We can't taste hope. We can't smell salvation. Our muscles have atrophied. All we have left is a voice filled with the salt of our tears and with that voice, and no one visble near or around us, we simply cry out: "Out of the depths I cry to you Lord; Lord hear my voice." That looks like a present tense verb to me. It's not, "I cried out," or "I will cry out." It's: "I cry to you." It's present tense. Maybe what we do not realize is that in one way or another we are always in the depths and that we need to constantly, every day, cry out to the Lord. Maybe this is a way of saying something like, "Lord, wherever I am, compared to you, I am always in the depths. Lord, wherever you are I am always crying out to you, my voice is always filled with tears, and my eyes are always laden with the burdens of life. Lord as often as I cry out to you, hear my voice. Hear my words to you through the tear choked misery of these blackened depths. Lord, mercy!"

Then the Psalmist waits (5-6). Five times in these two verses the Psalmist waits. I wait. We wait. It's kind of sad that the Psalmist seems to have to wait alone. I wait. I wait. I wait. Isn't that like us though? Wouldn't life be better if we had someone to wait with while we wait? Wouldn't it be better if we had someone in the depths with us? Wouldn't it be better if we had someone to wait through the long dark nights with us? Nevertheless, who else can we wait upon but the Lord? It's almost like the Psalmist knows that no one else is going to show up so there's not much point in waiting on anyone else. Or perhaps it is because he knows that no one else can even come close to helping him in whatever depths he happens to be in at the time. I might pastorally ask you, as I have asked myself many times, "Who are you waiting on?" I think the answer to the question also reveals who we are hoping will show up.

And we are told in this Psalm several things about the One whom the Psalmist is waiting for: with the Lord there is forgiveness; his word is full of hope; with the Lord there is mercy; with the Lord there is unfailing love; with the Lord there is redemption. There is, in other words, a lot to wait for if we are waiting for the Lord. But I guess who we are waiting for tells us a lot about what we are waiting for, doesn't it? I mean, are we hopeful for hope? Are we hopeful for love? Are we hopeful for redemption from an empty, hopeless, loveless life? Are we hopeful to be rescued from our sins or are we content to live within their depths? At its heart this is a Psalm about needing rescue from ourselves, from the sin we are mired in deeply. And the Psalmist is correct: being mired in sin prevents worship (v 4). So the question is thus: do we desire the fellowship of the Lord? Do we desire his presence? Do we want his mercy? Do we want his love? Do we want his hope? Do we truly want to worship him again? Are we stuck in the pits of sin?

There's only one way out of it. Cry out. Take your throat dry with sin and wet with tears and lift up whatever last breath you have to him. Cry out for his mercy and forgiveness. Keep crying out. Keeping hoping and braying like a broken animal. Do whatever it takes to get your voice into the halls of heaven. Do whatever you have to do to be heard by the one who seeks and saves. He'll find you because that is far more important than you finding him. He is our hope.

So if you are waiting alone, if you are mired in the depths, if you are stuck in sin, if you are muted by your suffering and drinking only tears, where are you going to turn? Who is your hope? Who is your help? If you had one last breath to cry out one last song for mercy, to whom would you sing it?

For more information, see Luke 23:42-43

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“The depth is simply the height inverted, as sin is the index of moral grandeur. The cry is not only truly human, but divine as well. God is deeper than the deepest depth in man. He is holier than our deepest sin is deep. There is no depth so deep to us as when God reveals his holiness in dealing with our sin…[And so] think more of the depth of God than the depth of your cry. The worst thing that can happen to a man is to have no God to cry to out of the depths.”—PT Forsyth, The Cure of Souls, as quoted by Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, 139

Friends,

Here are my notes on Psalm 130. I hope you find them to be a blessing. I relied on resources from Eugene Peterson, Walter Kaiser, JI Packer, and a couple of other commentaries. I have pasted an excerpt below. Thanks for stopping by.

Psalm 130: De Profundis

PS 130:1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
PS 130:2 O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
PS 130:3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
PS 130:4 But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared.
PS 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
PS 130:6 My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
PS 130:7 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
PS 130:8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

He begins in the depths. I’m not persuaded that by the end of this Psalm, short as it is, that he has been extricated from that situation. “Out of the depths…I cry to you….Out of the depths…I wait on you…Out of the depths…I put my hope in you.” Maybe as he looks back, if he is looking back, he sees that his wait was long; but as long as he waited he was in the depths.

If we remain in the depths, will we continue to hope, cry and wait on the Lord? The action here is passive: I wait. I hope. I cry out. The action, though, belongs to the Lord who acts: He moves. He inspires. He answers. We can do nothing in the depths until the Lord does this moving, inspiring, answering. Ask, Seek, and Knock. But that’s all. We wait.

Still, our voices must be exposed if he is to hear. Our situation must be declared if he is to rescue us. Maybe so long as we continue to fool ourselves—thinking we are not in the depths and therefore quite and rather in control of our lives—he won’t come to us or hear us or answer us or be attentive to us. Perhaps he won’t, can’t?, answer those who do not call out to him from the depths?

What does the individual learn that he will pass along to the congregation? “I Cry out…Israel, put your hope in the Lord.” This is testimony.

The action is all the Lord’s action. He hears. He forgives. He comes. His Word. His unfailing Love. His hope. His redemption. He service. All is from the Lord and redirected to him.

In who else can we hope? For who else can we wait? Who else’s love is unfailing? Who else forgives? Who else hears our cries for mercy? Who else makes us stand? Who else’s word is worthy of our hope? Who else is faithful? This Psalm speaks to us of a consistent and faithful God who can be trusted even when we are crying out of the depths. We may wait; likely will. But as sure as the morning comes, the Lord will hear us. He is worthy of our hope and trust.