“Out of the depths…” Some of us are very familiar with the depths. We’ve spent many a dark night crying out to God from places of despair, guilt, and regret. Psalm 130 meets us in this humble place, gently guiding our gaze upward, to watch for the dawn of God’s coming, to hope with Israel, knowing that we are eternally loved, and will be redeemed.
This really is a perfect psalm for Lent, especially as we’re nearing its end. If we’re practicing Lent faithfully, we have allowed the Spirit to awaken us to the truth of our iniquity. While this awareness is important, we should not respond to it with self-loathing or shame. Instead, we find ourselves, honestly, in the depths, and cry out, waiting expectantly for the Lord.
We cry out, expecting to be heard.
We stand, anticipating forgiveness.
We wait, our souls longing for the presence of the Lord,
hoping in the word, the promise, the coming light.
There is no other form of rescue that we will consider. Our hope in the Lord will not be swayed. Someone may come offering rescue for a price, “Ten Steps to Get Out of the Depths,” or even seeking to convince us that the depths are only an illusion. But we know where we are. We recognize that life comes through death, and in order to find new life again we had to find ourselves here first, to know our iniquity as well as our needfulness of the Lord who hears, comes, forgives, and redeems.
Others will keep track of our iniquities, filing them away to use against us, but the Lord deletes the files, making us truly free. This forgiveness granted by God results in reverence. It’s helpful to realize that this word translated “revered” in verse 4 (NRSV) can also be translated “feared”. Throughout Scripture we are advised to fear the Lord, but the way we tend to think of fear leads us to imagine one who keeps careful notes of our iniquities. The type of fear we should have for the Lord is reverence, holding in the highest regard this One who forgives, allowing us to stand.
The longing in verses 5 and 6 is so deep and so pure. Oh, that our souls would learn to long for the Lord, “more than those who watch for the morning.” While we may be alert for signs of enemies in the night, our deepest longing and greatest hope is in the light of dawn. Lent is useless if it doesn’t orient our hope to Easter, to the life and light that is to come.
The final verses of our psalm call us, along with Israel, to hope in the Lord. It’s one last plea not to look to any other source for love or power, redemption or rescue. The love of the Lord is steadfast, never-ceasing, and the Lord has the power to redeem us from every iniquity, not only as individuals, but perhaps even more importantly as communities. We have bought in to sinful systems and misplaced our hope, but the Lord has the power to reclaim us and restore us. Thanks be to God.
Lead Pastor, Nexus Community Church of the Nazarene