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Psalms of Ascent Part 11: Out of the Depths–Psalm 130

Covenant Presbyterian Church https://www.cov-pres.org

With the Lord there is loyal love.

Psalm 130 is composed of four sections of two verses each. The first two verses record the Psalmist’s cry to the Lord out of the depths of despair. The next two verses express confidence that with the Lord there is forgiveness of sins (this indicates that “the depths” of verse 1 is the despair of a guilty conscience). The third section (verses five and six) describes the psalmist’s waiting for a word of assurance from the Lord. The final section is a call for the people to hope in the Lord for he is the one who will redeem them from their all their sins.

With this Psalm’s emphasis on sin and full atonement, Martin Luther referred to it as a “Pauline Psalm.” So deep is the hope in God’s forgiving mercy expressed in the Psalm it could easily be placed in the book of Romans.

The theme of the Psalm is summed up in verse 4: “But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” The “depths” from which the psalmist cries is the knowledge of his own iniquity. The problem of sin cannot be adequately captured in purely therapeutic language. Sin is iniquity which is another word for wickedness. It is from wickedness that the sinner must be delivered. In verse four the psalmist expresses the confidence that only a child of God can have; that with the Lord there is forgiveness.

Notice that the forgiveness which is found in the mercy of the Lord is not without its effect. God forgives the iniquity of his people so that they may fear him. That is, there is a direct connection between forgiveness of sins and fearing the Lord. God’s redemptive work in the lives of his people is comprehensive. He not only washes them clean from their sin, he causes them to give him the glory due his name. Those forgiven by God of their iniquity become worshippers of God. Once committed law-breakers become God-glorifiers.

The final words of the Psalm sum up the great Christian hope: “And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities” (Vs. 8). The church throughout the world is true Israel. The redeeming work of Christ is the fruit of God’s “steadfast love”; that is his unbreakable covenant love. This work of redemption extends not only to the saving of our souls but the redemption of our sin-ravaged bodies. What is more, Christ’s work of redemption will extend to the cosmos itself when God fulfills the promise to create a new heaven and earth. And thus shall it be for all eternity. God himself will be their God and they shall be his people.

Love’s redeeming work is done!

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