Crying from the Deep
Lord, thank You for being there when I need You.
Read 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.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Great God of wonders… Who is a pardoning God like thee? Or who has grace so rich and free?” (Samuel Davies, 1723–1761; based on Mic. 7:18).
This first Sunday of Advent, consider what depths you or others close to you are experiencing. Many around the world are in dire situations. Use this prayer for yourself or in solidarity with others who are in a similar situation—where death seems more real than life and God seems remote. Even from here, cries can ascend to God, who in the exodus “made a road in the depths of the sea” (Isa. 51:10). When sin is recognized (Psa. 130 is one of only seven so-called “penitential psalms”: Psa. 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143), one can look to God for forgiveness.
In court a convicted person is usually worried more about the penalty than the actual crime, so it is important for us to remember the many programs of restorative justice and victim-offender reconciliation. The psalmist seeks forgiveness, not simply to relieve distress but more significantly “so that we can, with reverence, serve you” (4). The God-ward focus makes the psalm fitting as “a song of ascents,” probably used in the final stage of Israel’s pilgrimage to the Temple. Christians pray, “forgive us our debts,” in the context of praying “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven” (Matt. 6:9–13).
To pray this psalm is to be part of the community of God’s people (“Israel”; 7), who look expectantly to God for full redemption. The individual or community “can only be on the lookout for what God is doing… The dabar [“word,” 5] which the petitioner awaits, Jesus Christ brings (Matt. 9:2). More than that, Jesus is the (Word) in which the God of Israel fulfils his free grace” (Hans-Joachim Kraus, Theology of the Psalms, 60–150). We rejoice in the certainty of forgiveness, yet still with the psalmist, we wait expectantly for the coming “full redemption” (7), the time when “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev. 21:4).
As you use this psalm in hope, use your own words after “so that…” (4).
Lord, Your forgiveness is the most precious commodity on earth. Help me never to take it for granted.