December 22 – Psalm 130


Passage Intro

This psalm covers a wide gamut, from crushing abandonment to glorious hope. It starts down in the depths in verse 1, and when you see “the depths” in a psalm, typically the psalmist has in mind an earthen or watery grave. Take Psalm 88:6-7 for instance, “You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves.” The image here is of a person being dragged down into the depths of the sea, a place of chaos and fury, with no hope of rescue. It’s out of these depths that the psalmist cries to God for mercy.

Now, you might wonder, why is this psalmist in the depths in the first place? What brought them to this need for rescue? It seems as though the psalmist has in mind their sin before the Lord. They first ask for mercy in verse 2, then comment on how, though they have no right to stand before the Lord because of their iniquities (v.3), God is forgiving (v.4) and “with him is plentiful redemption.”(v.7) It seems as though the psalmist was being crushed under the knowledge of their own sin, such as psalm 31, “My strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.”

But with God there is forgiveness. I love that the psalm ends without a resolution to the need for rescue. In verses 5-6 the psalmist waits for the Lord hopefully and expectantly, “more than watchmen for the morning.”(v.6) Don’t miss the repetition in verse 6, because the psalmist wants to leave you with that moment of hopeful longing, like a man who has stood guard for hours through the cold and gloom of the night, desperate for the sunrise with its light, safety, and rest. But after deciding to wait of the Lord, the psalmist then only recommends that the rest of the congregation do the same, with reminders of God’s forgiving nature and his promise of redemption. By the end of the psalm the psalmist hasn’t been brought out of the depths yet; back to the initial image of a person sinking into the sea, they have called out for help, remembered that God is a merciful God, and are now waiting for the dawn of their deliverance.

That’s exactly how we enter Christmas Eve, desperate for salvation, crushed under the weight of our sin, and hoping beyond hope that the Lord will rescue us. This reminds me of a section from “O Holy Night” that always sticks with me:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Questions for Discussion

• Can someone read Psalm 130 for us?

• What stood out to you from this psalm?

• How do you think the psalmist feels towards the Lord in this psalm?

• Why do you think the psalmist brings up mercy and iniquities in verses 2-3?

• What would it mean for you to wait for the Lord “more than watchmen for the morning”?

• What about this psalm is relevant to your life right now?

• How could this psalm lead us to respond to God during Christmas this week?