Summary: Exposition of Psalm 130 (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:


(1). From death to life (vs 1-2).

(2). From guilt to forgiveness (vs 3-4).

(3). From darkness to light (vs 5-6)

(4). From slavery to freedom (vs 7-8)



• A family were having a weekend in Paris;

• And the Father decided he would take his little boy to the Louvre Museum.

• He wanted him to see the ‘Mona Lisa’ the most famous picture in the world!

• (8 million people go to see it every year!)

• As you can imagine the little boy was not too impressed and kept asking;

• “Dad can’t we go somewhere else?”

• Each time he moaned his dad would enthusiastically reply:

• “No son, I want you to see the world’s most famous picture.

• When they arrived at the museum;

• To the little boys horror there were long queues of people that seem to go on forever

• Worse was to follow for the little boy because as they joined the end of the queue;

• They kept encountering signs that said 45mins to go, 30 mins to go etc.

• Eventually it was there turn to stand in front of the ‘Mona Lisa’;

• Proudly the dad said, “There it is son, the world’s most famous picture!”

• The little boy look at the woman in the picture and said:

• “That is the ugliest woman I have ever seen! Can we go to McDonalds now!”


• To the dad that picture was important, it was significant, it was a must see!

• To his son it was insignificant, unimportant and totally no relevant.

• Many people view the message of the Bible like that;

• There are those who say: “This is important, it is significant, it is a must know!”

• And there are others who say; “So what!” They cannot see the relevance of it.

When it comes to the subject of forgiveness:

• The Bible teaches this is an essential and not an optional extra;

• Forgiveness of sin is needed if we are ever going to know God;

• That is develop a relationship with him.

• And forgiveness is continually needed;

• If we are to deepen that relationship with God.

• So forgiveness is an essential and not an optional extra;


• If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.

• If your greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.

• If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.

• If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.

• But because our greatest need was and is forgiveness, so God sent us a Saviour.

This Psalm (130) reminds us that:

• With God there is forgiveness! There is pardon, there is amnesty!

• And as we will see - that forgiveness is a gift given to us in the person of Jesus Christ!


• The Psalm has a title ‘Psalms of Ascent’;

• This title gives us a setting for this Psalm, it is part of a collection.

• There are a group of Psalms/songs, numbers 120 to 134;

• That were used by Jewish worshippers in their adoration of God.

• They are called the ‘Psalms of Ascent’.

• The word ‘Ascent’ simply means “on their way up”,

• So as these people were “on their way up” to Jerusalem,

• As they walking up the hillsides which led to the city.

• They sang this collection of Psalms.

• Because these Psalms/songs are short they would have been easy to remember.

• Just about every type of psalm is represented.

• There are psalms of thanksgiving and praise,

• Lament and confidence, confession and wisdom.

• This Psalm (130) is a penitential Psalm;

• It is the prayer of a person who is penitent;

• That is someone who feels regret and is concerned over his sins.

• Note: The Psalm actually divides up into four visual pictures;

• Four familiar situations that we can easily understand.

(1). From death to life (vs 1-2).

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;

2 O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

• The psalmist describes a picture of someone drowning;

• This person is unable to touch the bottom the water below him is too deep;

• He is unable to swim to the shore and therefore find safety,

• He is drowning, he is in immense trouble;

• And unless help comes quickly he will surely die!


• Might surprise you to know that I am a trained lifeguard!

• I have the suntan and the swimming trunks,

• I just lack the muscles otherwise ‘Baywatch’ here I come!

• On two occasions I have had to use my life guard skills;

• Both times were actually out of the water and on dry land.

• A lady had collapsed in the local shopping area;

• As I walked by I could see no-one in the crowd of people knew what to do.

• So I instantly took control of the situation.

• First: you make sure someone has phoned for an ambulance.

• Second: You check for a pulse – she did not have one – she was not breathing;

• Third: You remove any obstacle (i.e. false teeth) blocking the air passage;

• Fourth: You tilt the head back, pinch the nose and give to burst of air.

• I will never forget when I did this the woman went from purple in colour,

• Back to white.

• Fifth: you press on the chest a certain amount of times;

• And you continue this process of air and chest compressions;

• Until the patient starts breathing on their own.

• You will be glad to know that the woman started to breathe again;

• Then the ambulance pulled up the medics took over,

• They took her off to hospital and I don’t know what happened to her after that!


• I will never forget when the woman receive mouth to mouth resuscitation;

• She went from purple to white, from death to life!

• In verses 1-2 the psalmist describes a picture of someone drowning;

• The water below him is too deep, he is unable to stand up.

• The shoreline is too far away;

• Therefore he is unable to swim to it and find safety,

• He is drowning, and he is in immense trouble;

• Unless help comes quickly he will surely die!

Notice twice in these verse he calls out to God:

• Verse 1: “I cry to you, O LORD”;

• Verse 2: “O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy”.

• The psalmist is not physically drowning,

• He is symbolically drowning,

• That is he is using this idea of drowning as an illustration, a word picture.

• The chaotic and devastating force that has swamped him;

• Is a realisation of his sin.

• We know that from verses 3&4 where he talks about sin and forgiveness.


Sin in the Bible is always twofold:

• First: a wrong attitude to God.

• We do what ‘I’ want instead of what God wants.

• Second: wrong actions;

• We think, say and do that which saddens and displease a holy God.


‘It has been said that “sin will take you farther than you want to go;

keep you longer than you are willing to stay;

and cost you more than you are willing to pay.”’

That was certainly the way it was for the writer of this Psalm:

• His sin and disobedience had broken his relationship with God;

• He felt so far away that he describes it as drowning in a sea of guilt and shame.


• Each of us need to realise that our sin:

• i.e. a wrong attitude to God, that leads on to wrong actions.

• Will also have the same devastating effect upon us!


• In 1912 John Harper was the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago,

• He had been to England and was returning home on board on the Titanic;

• With him was his 6 year old daughter (called ‘Nana’).

• After the ship struck an iceberg and began to sink,

• Harper got his daughter Nana to safety into a lifeboat;

• But to everyone’s surprise he made no effort to follow her into the lifeboat.

• Instead, he ran through the ship yelling,

• "Women, children and unsaved into the lifeboats!"

• Survivors report that he then began witnessing to anyone who would listen.

• He continued preaching even after he was forced to jump into the water;

• While in the water John Harper cling to a piece of wreckage;

• This was his only aid because he had given away his life-jacket to another man.

• Harper’s final moments;

• Were recounted four years later at a meeting in Hamilton, Ontario,

• By a man who said:

• “I am a survivor of the Titanic.

• When I was drifting alone in the water clinging to a piece of debris,

• The tide brought Mr. Harper, also on a piece of wreckage, near me.

• He said, "Man are you saved?"

• "No," I said, "I am not."

• Harper responded;

• "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."

• The waves bore him away,

• But a little latter they brought him back.

• Once again he asked; "Are you saved now?"

• "No”, I said, "I cannot honestly say that I am."

• Once again he pleaded,

• “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."

• Shortly after he went down; and there, alone in the night,

• With two miles of water under me, I believed.

• I am John Harper’s last convert!”

Question: Have you believed? Are you saved?

(2). From guilt to forgiveness (vs 3-4).

3If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?

4 But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.

The word picture in these verses moves from the sea to the courtroom.

• Notice in verse 3 the word ‘Stand’.

• In verses one and two the psalmist could not stand up because he was drowning.

• In this second scenario the psalmist says he cannot ‘stand’;

• Because of his guilt!

• These verses strips us of any pretence or presumption;

• That we as human beings are inherently “all right”

• The Bible teaches: “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory”.


• Billy Sunday was a famous baseball player in the early part of the last century.

• He was dramatically converted to Christ,

• And became then even more famous as an evangelist.

• In preparation for a city wide mission in a large American city,

• Billy Sunday wrote a letter to the mayor of that city;

• In the letter he asked the mayor if he knew for the names of individuals;

• Who had spiritual problems and needed help and prayer.

• How surprised the evangelist was when he received a parcel from the major’s office;

• In the parcel was the cities telephone directory.

• In other words, everyone needs a saviour;

• Because everyone needs forgiveness!

Quote: Charles Stanley says that forgiveness involves three elements.

• (1). An injury.

• A wrong is committed. Pain, hurt, suffering or guilt is experienced.

• (2). A debt resulting from the injury.

• There is a consequence that is always detrimental and puts someone into a deficit state of some kind. Physical pain, mental anguish, guilt.

• (3). A cancellation of the debt.


• (1). An injury:

• You and I who have offended God by our sin,

• (2). A debt resulting from the injury.

• The consequences of that sin is judgement and separation.

• (3). A cancellation of the debt.

• The word forgiveness in the bible literally means to dismiss, pardon or release;

• In Jesus Christ there is forgiveness of sins!


• The year was 1927,

• The place was West Africa,

• A blood specimen was taken from a native man named Asibi,

• Who was sick with yellow fever.

• A vaccine was made from the original strain of virus obtained from this man.

• In fact, all the vaccine manufactured since 1927;

• By the Rockefeller Foundation and health agencies,

• Derives from the original strain of virus obtained from this one man.

• Carried down to the present day from one laboratory to another,

• Through repeated cultures and by enormous multiplication,

• It has offered immunity to yellow fever to millions of people in many countries.

• Through the creative imagination of science,

• The blood of this one man ‘Asibi’ in West Africa;

• Has been made available to serve the whole human race.

• In another, more important way,

• The blood of another Man has been made to serve the human race.

• 1 Peter chapter 1 verse 18:

• “We are saved not with silver, not with gold but the precious blood of Christ”.

(3). From darkness to light (vs 5-6)

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning”.

The word picture here moves us from the courtroom to the city walls.

• In ancient cities watchmen stood on the city walls;

• They watched and stayed alert when everyone else was asleep.

• They had to peer through the darkness to detect the approach of any danger.


• In 1835 a man visited a doctor in Florence, Italy.

• He was filled with anxiety and exhausted from lack of sleep.

• He couldn’t eat,

• And he avoided his friends.

• The doctor examined him and found that he was in prime physical condition:

• So the doctor suggested that his patient needed to relax, and to have a good time,

• He then told him about a circus that was in town.

• And he told him of its star performer, a clown named Grimaldi.

• Night after night he had the people rolling in the aisles.

• "You must go and see him," the doctor advised.

• "Grimaldi is the world’s funniest clown. He’ll make you laugh and cure your sadness.

• " "No," replied the despairing man,

• "He can’t help me, you see, I am Grimaldi!"


• Spiritual darkness is the situation that humanity is born into.

• Like ‘Grimaldi’ we are unable to help ourselves find the light.

• But the good news of this Psalm and the message of the Bible is this:

• What we could not and cannot do – God did in the person of Jesus!

• Jesus Christ who called himself: “The light for the world”.

These verses are verses of hope and not verses of despair:

• Notice there is a confidence in these verses:

• Verse 5: “In his word I put my hope”.

• God’s word is also God’s promise, if he said it then it will happen:

• Verse 6 says it is a certain as ‘The morning following the night”.


• Native American (Red Indian) went into a Bank in Texas.

• He looked at the bank manager and said:

• “Grass all gone, sheep all sick, waterholes all dry!”

• The bank manager took him through to the back of the bank,

• And opened a safety deposit box which contained gold that the Indian had mined.

• The Indian then said:

• “Plenty of grass, sheep well, waterhole full”.

• His circumstances were the same,

• But he had resources in abundance to survive those circumstances.

• No matter how dark and stormy our situation may be,

• God has the resources to bring us ‘out of darkness into his most wonderful light.’

(4). From slavery to freedom (vs 7-8)

“O 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”

The word picture here moves us from the city walls to the slave market:

• Notice the theme in verse 8 is once again good news,

• The theme is redemption;

• This word means ‘setting someone free by paying a price’.


• In the 1800’s there was a well known American Baptist preacher;

• Called Dr. A. J. Gordon.

• One day as he walked down a street in Boston;

• He met a boy carrying an old rusty bird cage,

• Inside the cage were several little birds;

• And the boy was swinging the cage in a very spiteful and cruel way.

• Dr. Gordon said, “Son, where did you get those birds?”

• The boy answered, “I trapped them out in the field.”

• The preacher asked “And what are you going to do with them now?”

• The boy replied:

“I’m going to take them home and play with them and have some fun with them and when I’m bored I’ll give them to my cat to play with and eat!”

• Dr. Gordon then asked the boy how much he would take for the birds and the cage;

• The boy not believing his look replied; “Two dollars”.

• “It’s a deal”, said the preacher;

• And the two of them exchanged goods.

• The next Sunday Dr. Gordon took the empty bird cage to the pulpit;

• And used it in illustrating his sermon - He said:

“That boy said that the birds could not sing very well, but when I released them from the cage they went singing away into the sky, and it seemed to me, that they were singing, “Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed.””

Notice: Redemption is available but it is not automatic:

• Verse 7: “O Israel put your hope in the Lord”.

• The Psalmist pleads with the nation to trust in God and experience his redemption!

• Notice he goes on to say:

• “For with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is FULL redemption”.

• The King James version it say; ‘PLENTEOUS redemption’.

• The New Living translation it says; ‘OVERFLOWING SUPPLY of salvation’.

• The Message says; ‘GENEROUS redemption’.


• An interviewer examined a job application;

• Then turned to the prospective employee before him and said:

• "I see you have put ASAP down for the date you are available to start,

• Which means of course, ‘as soon as possible’,

• However, I see you’ve put AMAP down for required salary.

• I don’t believe I’ve ever seen that before, what does it mean?"

• The applicant replied, "As Much as Possible!"

The redemption, the forgiveness of God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son:

• Meets all our needs in abundance;

• Past, present and even future!

• Regarding the past: ‘Our sins are forgiven – once and for all!’

• Regarding the present: God gives us the Holy spirit to change us day by day.

• Regarding the future: God gives us the hope of heaven! “Forever with the Lord”.

Punch line:

• Do you have that hope?

• Have you been redeemed, forgiven?

• Then do what the Psalmist tells Israel:

• “Put your hope in the Lord….with you there is forgiveness!”