Psalm 130 reads from the Oxford Annotated Bible as follows:
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If you O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
So that you may be revered
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
In his word I hope,
my soul waits for the Lord,
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning,
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem,
It is he who will redeem Israel,
From all its inequities.
The psalmist here could be in the depths of distress, difficulties, despair. Here the psalmist is asking the Lord to meet him where he is, to pay heed and attend to him. The depths might not only potentially apply to his individual situation but also could apply to wider and broader surrounding circumstances which also constitute into formation of the depths that are affective towards him. If my outer environment is collapsing about me, if people around me are in all manner of distress, then this is also maybe the depths for me as well. He could be describing his inner circle, his own thoughts and feelings, or perhaps a wider circle of influences that are coming into his pathways, even in the form of bad news that hovering.
The psalmist wants the Lord to hear his voice in singular fashion, there could be other voices, other elements of sound, but the psalmist is asking that his personal voice come into the presence of the Almighty Lord.
The depths are plural here, meaning there might be more than one issue that is contending here, more than one little problem in the horizon.
He requests that the Lord doesnít mark inequities. He asks, if this were done, who could remain standing, meaning who could come to him in the manner of intercession, either for himself or others or generally stand in the presence of the Lord. The later metaphor in the psalm of the watchman is also indicative of someone standing or maitaining a similarly alert position and keeping a keen watch. The watchman himself, has a position that warrants a degree of importance and perhaps others are relying on the watchman. In the realm of prayer, the watchman could be watchihg what to prayer for. The watchman wouldn't go off and do something to compromise his watch. He would maintain diligence towards that which is being watched for. He is aware specifically that he is the watchman and that this position bears importance and responsibility.
Remain standing in the context is the maintenance of the relationship with the Lord, or coming into good standing with the Lord in terms of relationship and prayer. The psalmist is acknowledging that the call to prayer does remain and stand, and of course this may include intercessory prayer. An example of this was Job, someone certainly in the depths, who was required to pray for his friends from these depths. Job from within these very depths, was called to be a watchman for his friends in the manner of intercessory prayer as a requirement of the Lord before his own personal restoration or turnaround could take place.
Part of the reverence to the Lord is deference show here by the psalmist to his gift of forgiveness, something not to be taking for lightly or for granted.
There are many example of the Lord meeting people where they are at in the Bible.
Here the depths can also represent dominion, as the Lord gives man a partial dominion as we see from Genesis.
In Africa, there are some vast open plains and regions that are just awesomely beautiful landscapes filled with wildlife. But there is also an individuals personal landscape, which can include what he is seeing and feeling, close up and in the distance. Here the psalmist is referring to his personal landscape as the depths.
We could relate this psalm to personal prayer in seeing situations as really a domain, a dominion, or a landscape that we are asking the Lord to come into. Even something like say a personal problem, involves dominion or landscape and a way of relating it to the Lord in prayer is to refer to it as just that. For example, I might ask the Lord to come into the landscape of say a relationship problem, the landscape of a work problem, the landscape of a health problem and just picture the Lord coming into this personal landscape or dominion, even as his presence say would cross into a beautiful open landscape in the natural wonders of Africa. The psalmist here in using the work depths, is describing a personal landscape, a personal dominion that he is asking the Lord to be present to, to meet him within this.
Here the psalmist is asking the Lord to meet him where he is at. In some cases, someone might be so mired in difficulties that he or she doesnít even know where they are at, or where they stand. The psalmist in mentioning who could stand in verse 2, may be thinking alone those lines as well. He is maybe in part questioning the Lord as to where he is out, where does he stand personally and he hopes the Lord has mercy but also he is clearing the air for communication with the Lord.
But also in saying he is in the depths, the psalmist is saying, this is where I am at. We might also say, in a prayer, that this is where I believe I am at with this, as the matter is brought forth in consultation with the Lord.
There is no gradation involved here, the psalmist doesnít have to skip hop to the next island over to get his voice across the depths to the Lord. He canít necessarily get past the point of his own sin, or the difficulties within or around him that may have nothing to due with personal sins, or any other shortfall that is characterizing now as the depths and he can only bring his voice forward in prayer from his position, however undesirable that position may be at the moment. A leap forward and out just may not be achievable. You may indeed be waiting for so many things but here the consultations with the Lord come at the beginning of the waiting process, not after.
While even one problem could send someone into the mire, there could be many here. Depths can mean more than one, for example a distressed swimmer could be caught in 4 opposing currents, not just two, it could be that bad. Someone could have their back against the wall with one problem or it might be many but even then the manifold nature of the problems doesnít mean that the Lord cannot also meet you there as well. He isnít just going to meet with people that have just one problem.
The psalmist also takes responsibility, he is in the depth and not out of the woods on something significant, but he still takes responsibility to mention his sins, but also not to let them be the excuse not to continue to seek the Lord in prayer. He understands that the Lordís call to prayer and seeking him does extend to the very depths that he is experiencing now, and that his unfortunate circumstances donít absolve him from seeking the Lord further or even manifestly praying for others.
He then speaks of his sincere wait for the Lord, and this has optimistic overtones as there is a point of positive anticipation here as he compares his wait to the watchmen who waits for the morning. Given that the morning does show up, this metaphor carries high expectations of the Lordís presence arriving as surely as the morning does indeed arrive.
In a sincere waiting for the Lord on issues, in the meantime a diversion from this could be rather obvious, or less obvious. If I am waiting for something good from the Lord, and robbing everyone around me, then this is a diversion that is obviously wrong. But as far as other decisions, such as murky personal or professional decisions, if you are waiting on the Lord, and you think if you proceed in a certain fashion you are diverting or breaking away from this wait, discuss specifically with the Lord as to whether this indeed is a diversion or break away from that waiting on him as you just donít know. In many cases, you are just not sure. In the ongoing discussion with the Lord, also ask him if this is going against waiting on him and part of the hope in the Lord is within this wait so you want to keep for sure on paths where hope remains as this psalm ties the waiting on the Lord to hope.
The final verses talk of the Lordís steadfast love, and the greatness of his power to redeem or bring about the turnaround that is otherwise implausible to just about impossible. This conclusion to the psalm contrasts directly with the psalmists admission at the very beginning of the psalm of now being in the depths, of some manner of difficulty that is seemingly just not subject to any turnaround that could manifest unless the Lord intervenes with great power which arises out of his steadfast love, because otherwise why is he choosing to direct this power to this miniscule individual. The great power becomes individually directed because of the aspect of his steadfast love now further directed individually.
The meditative aspect of this psalm are the ongoing examples in your life of God meeting you where you are at. You donít want to withdraw from that grace and the recognition of that grace within the occurrences of the depths of difficulties. There are small and larger examples of the Lord getting you back on board as you do lose your footing and get off track on this and that.
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