“Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope” (Psalm 130:1-5).
In the depths of the cave as well as in the depths of the ocean there is complete darkness. One cannot even see their hand in front of their face in such places. In Psalm 130, the psalmist speaks about crying unto the Lord “out of the depths”. The picture is one in which all appears dark and hopeless for the writer, yet He calls upon God to hear his voice (Psalm 130:1-2).
In the title of Psalm 130, it mentions that this was “A Song of Ascents”. These “Song of Ascents” were sung as the worshippers ascended the road leading up to Jerusalem as they went to attend 3 Jewish Feasts (Deuteronomy 16:16). As the ancient Israelites were going up to worship God by singing these “Song of Ascents” they were reminding themselves of why they should worship God.
In this psalm the author asks the question, “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? (Psalm 130:3). If God were, as some people picture Him, One whose sole focus was upon pointing out our faults, none of us would have a chance because all of us have sinned (Romans 3:23). However, while God is just and will punish those who persist in sin, His main focus is to save man from sin. The psalmist adds, “But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared” (Psalm 130:4). Why is it that the author fears God? It is because with God there is forgiveness!
Charles Spurgeon in writing about this verse says regarding this phrase, “that You may be feared” states, “This is the fruitful root of piety. None fear the Lord like those who have experienced his forgiving love. Gratitude for pardon produces far more fear and reverence of God than all the dread which is inspired by punishment. If the Lord were to execute justice upon all, there would be none left to fear him; if all were under apprehension of his deserved wrath, despair would harden them against fearing him: it is grace which leads the way to a holy regard of God, and a fear of grieving him”. Only when one understands and appreciates that they have been blessed to be a recipient of God’s wonderful grace as shown in Him forgiving their sins, will they develop a healthy fear of God!
Because the author understood God’s grace in forgiving him of past sins, he will now wait on God in spite of the turmoil of the depths which surround him at the present moment: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning-- yes, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities” (Psalm 130:5-8). When we understand just how great of an act it was for God to forgive us of our sins, it helps us to trust in His power to deliver us from any other trials we may face!
Today, I will fear God, not because He is going to bring His wrath upon me if I do not. I will fear God because there is forgiveness with Him! I revere Him because I realize how great it is for Him to extend to me the forgiveness of my past sins through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7). Because I fear the Lord, whatever trials come upon me this day, I will “wait for the Lord” to deliver me. I will hope in Him because with Him there is “mercy” and “abundant redemption”!
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)