Summary: An ascent out of the depths.


Psalm 130.

This Psalm is a song of ascent: “Out of the depths” (Psalm 130:1). The Latin language captures the intensity of the situation: “De profundis” (from which we have the English word ‘profundity’, meaning ‘a great depth or intensity of state, quality or emotion’). We’ve all been there, or somewhere like it. The Psalmist spares us the details.

Yet even in the depths - indeed, especially in the depths - the Psalmist does not forget the LORD. And the LORD does not forget him. When we are in the depths, it is to the LORD that we may cry. He has never given up on us, so we need not give up on Him.

The Psalmist’s plaintive plea is that the LORD will hear his voice, and that His ‘ears’ (an obvious anthropomorphism) would be attentive to the voice of his supplication (Psalm 130:2).

It would be a mistake to just take it for granted that somehow the Psalmist’s troubles arose from some specific sin. The sense is, “If you LORD should mark (literally ‘watch over’) iniquities, who would be able to stand? BUT there is forgiveness with you, that you might be revered” (Psalm 130:3-4). The writer is drawing strength from his own sense of past forgiveness. (Incidentally, forgiveness is not just about us: it is about the glory of God.)

Whatever the petition was, the Psalmist is waiting confidently for the answer of the LORD. This is personal: “my soul” waits (Psalm 130:5). It is intense: more intense than the watchman on the wall who could be waiting for news - or, just waiting for the morning so his shift can be completed peacefully (Psalm 130:6). I think of the City Crier, as the sun breaks over the horizon: ‘Six o’clock, and all is well!’

The LORD will answer your prayers, if they are in accordance with His will (1 John 5:14-15). The answer is already on its way (Isaiah 65:24). ‘Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time’ (1 Peter 5:6).

Just as we do not know the details of the writer’s petition, neither are we privy to the answer. However, this does not prevent the Psalmist from encouraging his community - God’s people - to place their hope in the LORD. Israel should know that He is merciful, and they have plenty of experience of His redeeming power (Psalm 130:7).

In His covenant love - the relationship which He has with His people - the LORD shall redeem even backsliding Israel, backsliding Church, backsliding Christians from all their iniquities (Psalm 130:8). Without being presumptuous, it is a done deal. As to those other things which we ask - this too shall come to pass, if it consistent with His will.