Out of the Depths
(H) A Song of Ascents. (1) Out of the depths I cry to you, Yahweh. (2) Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. (3) If you, Yahweh, kept a record of iniquity, O Lord, who could stand? (4) But with you (there is) forgiveness so that you may be feared. (5) I wait for Yahweh. My soul waits, and in his word I hope. (6) My soul (waits for) the Lord more than watchmen (wait for) the morning, more than watchmen (wait for) the morning. (7) Hope in Yahweh, Israel, for with Yahweh (there is) steadfast love and with him complete redemption. (8) And he will redeem Israel from all her iniquities.
Several important repetitions mark this brief psalm. “Voice” is found twice (vs. 2) as is “wait” (vs. 5). The same verb, “wait,” is implied three times (vs. 6). Twice “my soul” occurs in quick succession (vss. 5 & 6). The phrase “more than watchmen (wait for) the morning” is repeated like a chant (vs. 6). “Hope” is found twice (vss. 5 & 7), and the word translated “redemption/redeem” occurs first as a noun (vs. 7) and then as a verb (vs. 8). “Iniquity” is also repeated (vss. 3 & 8).
Throughout the psalm, two names for God, “Yahweh” and “Lord (Adonai)”, are used almost alternately for a total of eight occurrences, five for “Yahweh” and three for “Adonai.” The tone of the psalm shifts from a sense of desperation to a spirit of quiet trust as the psalmist pours out his heart to God and receives the comfort he needs. Note also the change from the first person (vss. 1-6) to the third person (vss. 7 & 8) as the psalmist enlarges the focus of concern from himself to the nation.
I. My personal experience (1-6)
- Crying out to Yahweh from the depths of my iniquity (1-3)
- Waiting on Yahweh for his forgiveness and redemption (4-6)
II. Exhortations to the nation (7 & 8)
- Hope in Yahweh. (7a)
- Look to Yahweh for redemption from all iniquity. (7b & 8)
When we cry out to Yahweh, confessing our sin, we can count on him to forgive and redeem us because of his steadfast love.
The statement, “If you, Yahweh, kept a record of iniquity, O Lord, who could stand?” (vs. 3), seems to imply that the Lord does not remember our sins. However, Scripture indicates that such records do in fact exist: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Rev. 20:11,12). At the final judgment, all humanity will be required to give an account to the Judge who sits on the Great White Throne. All will be evaluated according to their works as recorded in “the books.” This apparently includes every sin that has ever been committed against God’s righteous standards. This should not surprise us if the Judge is omniscient.
There is one group that will never have to account for their sins before a holy God. Those whose names have been written in “the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27) will never be forced to undergo such an evaluation. Their names are recorded in the book of life not because of good works they have done but because they have acknowledged their desperate need and have placed their faith in the redeeming work of the Savior. As Psalm 130 expresses it, they have cried out for forgiveness and are waiting on Yahweh and hoping in his word, trusting in his “steadfast love” and his “complete redemption.” Their sins will never be held against them, not because those sins have been forgotten, but because they have been forgiven. By trusting in the work of Christ they can know for certain that he has already carried their sins in his body to the cross and died for them there. Peter tells us, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24).