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Title: Out of the Depths
Text: Psalm 130
We’ll be in two texts this morning: Here in Psalm 130 and later, we’ll turn to Romans 5 for a moment.
Introduction: A young boy from down south attended Sunday school for the first with his grandparents who lived up north. He was so excited he couldn’t wait to tell grandma about the lesson. “My teacher taught us all about the whales,” he announced. “You mean Jonah and the whale?” grandma asked. “No,” he said, “Jacob and the whales.” “I think it was Jonah,” the grandmother gently corrected. “He was swallowed by a whale in the ocean.” But this young man knew his lesson. “No, it was Jacob. He moved out into the desert and when he got thirsty, he dug some whales.”
Communication sometimes can be hard. Especially when you think you already know what the other person is trying to say. But what about when someone wants to communicate, but they’re in a place where there just are no words. For instance, praying. What is it like when you want to pray, but you don’t know what to say or even how to say it.
ill.: The Valley of Vision; a help in praying; sometimes, I just don’t know what to say.; Read the first one…
Have you ever been in a place where there were no words to adequately describe your plight, your plea? That place – that is where the Psalmist describes, Out of the Depths.
I have to say, though, we could categorize this struggle. What I mean by that is people get to the bottom of life – to the depths in different ways. We could create categories out of those different ways. Two come to mind: First, Some people reach the bottom, but not by their own doing. It wasn’t their fault, per se, just life and the calamity that sometimes plagues it.
- The loss of a child
- The suffering of a spouse
- The tragedy of a natural disaster, just to mention a few.
But this Psalm doesn’t come from that category. Consider the despair someone feels from hitting the bottom because they have put themselves there. That would be the 2nd category. You made that decision. There is no one else to blame but you. And you know it. This Psalm, Psalm 130, was born out of that pain and despair.
Now, before we dig in, I want us to look closely at the Psalms four natural separate sections: 1-2; 3-4; 5-6; 7-8. The ESV, NIV, CSV has formatted the passage with space in between 2-3; 4-5; 6-7 to help us identify them.
- His Prayer from a place of deep despair (1-4)
- His Trust (Faith) in the only place he can hope (5-6)
- His Plea for Israel to put their hope in God (7-8)
For our purposes this morning, I’ve made my divisions between verses 4-5 and 6-7. So, I’m going to group verse 1-4 together. You’ll notice he’s speaking to God. That’s his prayer. I want you to then be looking ahead to verses 5&6, where we find the basis for his prayer: God’s faithfulness. This man’s faith and his trust in God are grounded firmly in God’s faithfulness to his Word. And thirdly, what he’s found is what he wants for his people, so he issues this plea: Israel, hope in the Lord, too. And he then tells them why.
Transition: Let’s begin with this first section…
I. His Prayer: A cry and a confession born out of his condition (1-4)
exp.: Psalm 120.1, 5; a call that comes from the distress of living in exile; Psalm 121.1, 7; a cry for rescue from ‘all the evil’; Ps 123.1-2; Have mercy, v3 Have Mercy; why? V4; we’ve had more than enough of what this world offers;
Question: What are these circumstances that surround this Cry? Is it from a geographical place? Or, is it from the depths of anguish? The context of the Psalms of Ascent would lead us to both – geographically and spiritually. This word depths is used metaphorically to refer to the overwhelming personal devastation in Psalm 69 – as in, the Psalmist suffers from those who are attacking him.
In Psalm 124, David presents this idea of being swept away: 4 then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; 5 then over us would have gone the raging waters. Had God not intervened on behalf of Israel, they would have been cast into the depths!
For the Jew, the depths is the scariest place to be. In Revelation 13 we see the Beast rising up out of the depths of the sea – coming from this place of darkness and evil – a very scary place where evil abides.
What a picture! And the writer is here, in the depths, crying out to Yahweh.
To be in this place alone… that would be bad. But he isn’t alone and he knows it. He knows there is someone he can call to and count on… And that, my friend, makes all the difference in the world!
Note the poetic efforts to whom he is addressing:
- vs 1: Yahweh, vs 2, Adonai
- vs 3: Yahweh, Adonai
- vs 5: Yahweh, vs 6: Adonai
- vs 7: Yahweh, Yahweh
Using both terms, the Psalmist is appealing to the almighty power of Yahweh and to the close personal relationship the Psalmist has with God. Goldingay says the Psalmist does this because he believes God has the power and the obligation to respond. The obligation comes from the close personal relationship.
app.: What a beautiful picture of God: We should always retain an understanding of the Great Omnipotent God who created the Universe. And, this same Great, Almighty God desires a personal relationship with each one of us. This is the message we preach. And the hope we bring to the world.
But remember, why is this person here? Why is he in the depths (whether in exile or in circumstances), why is he crying out in anguish for God’s mercy?
- Not the world’s mistreatment, even though we’ve read that happening (129.3)
- Not evil against him, even though the world will be that way
- Not contempt by those evil doers, even though they are contemptuous.
No, this comes from the writer’s recognition of his own sin. Continuing on in v. 3-4: 3 If you, O Lord (Yahweh, Almighty God), should mark iniquities, O Lord (Adonai, close and personal Father), who could stand? 4 But with you (sweet, loving Father) there is forgiveness, that you may be feared (Yahweh, God Almighty).
This is an excellent question: who can stand before Yahweh? Surely not this poor fellow! Or, if you choose to look at it as being written on behalf of the nation, then surely not the Israelites. They had rejected Him. Hence, they have found themselves exiled and far away from home. The question is asked in such a way that it deserves a response in the negative: No One! The writer recognizes his own sinful state. And, without God’s forgiveness, he cannot stand before God. This close personal relationship with the Almighty God has been fractured.
The Holiness of God:
Why is this? Because God is holy; none can stand in his presence because all have sinned. Ps 14 & Ps 53 declare there is none righteous, all have become corrupt! The writer is moved to pray a cry for mercy because the writer has become aware that he is out of sorts with God – not with the world, or an enemy, or not because of his circumstances. No, he is out of alignment with God. He says: If you, Yahweh, should mark iniquities; iniquity is defined as something that is not equal; something out of proportion to God’s character.
Let that sink in. Iniquity is defined as something that is ‘not equal’; something out of proportion to God’s character.
Don’t get me wrong: we can be out of sorts with an enemy, or circumstances and situations, or the world. But that will never show us our sinfulness like when we cast ourselves in light of God’s Holiness.
The writer here sees himself in light of a holy God and knows that none can stand. David asks in Psalm 24: 3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
Nobody fits that description but one: Christ. Jesus is the only one who has clean hands and a pure heart. Our writer in Psalm 130 acknowledges that without the forgiveness of sin, he cannot hope to stand in the presence of God. But, rd v 4a: But with you there is forgiveness…
May I veer off course for a moment and ask a question? Who prays like this? Our prayers are not typically like this. Our prayers concern ourselves with where we are and what we’re doing. Our prayers are more focused upon the fact that we’ve been mistreated, the circumstances we find ourselves in are beyond our control, or some evil has been perpetrated against us. Not this prayer! This is an acknowledgment of the fact that this person is where he is because he has sinned against God. And he knows there is absolutely nothing he can do to rectify the situation. He needs God to intervene on his behalf.
app.: I wonder if you’ve ever been here? In some respects, this is a wonderful place to have been. Not to stay, but to have been. Let me ‘splain… when you’ve been in this place:
- It causes you to realize that you are a weak individual. When you are in the depths because of your own doing, you begin to see how pitifully weak you are. You thought you were strong, but now you see you’re weak and you need the strength of the Lord to protect you.
- It causes you to realize that you are prone to sin. You need help getting away from people, places, etc. that hurt you. And sin never just hurts you, but those you’re intimately involved with: your husband, your wife, your children, your church, your ministry, etc. You’re weak and sinful!
- It shows you the damage it does to your relationship/fellowship with God. You see separation, you’ve lived being separated from God and you hate it! You understand what it means to say as in Psalm 32:
1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
Maybe this is our problem today in the church: we don’t have a high view of our holy God. Maybe we’re presenting a god to the world who isn’t holy and doesn’t display holiness. We show the world that Marriage isn’t important to God. Children aren’t important to God. Relationships aren’t important to God. Our view of God is way too small – his holiness is not clearly perceived in our actions and our sinfulness is too readily accepted as being ok. We think to ourselves: Oh, it ain’t that bad!
But the writer here sees it. That is why he writes: 3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
t.s.: That is why he prayers a prayer born out of his sinful condition. He sees it, he knows it, and so he declares out from the depths, his trust in God:
II. His Trust: A Contentment born out of knowledge and experience (5-6)
exp.: rd v 5: 5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; One who hopes in the Lord knows that he will not be disappointed or put to shame. Why? Look where his hope is: in his word.
Turn to Romans 5.1-5; Romans 4 teaches us that our faith is the same as Abraham’s faith. Here is the basic teaching: God said it. God gave his word. Abraham believed God and because of that, it was credited to his account as righteousness. Abraham’s faith – that is, trusting God at His Word made him righteous. God made him righteous because he took God at His Word. In the same manner, we believe God, that if we confess Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, then, we will be saved. When we’ve taken God at his word, we’re justified and we have certain blessings of now being able to walk with him. Rd 5.1; the blessings from our justification:
- We have peace (v1)
- We have access into the Grace of God. (v2a)
- We rejoice
- In hope of the glory of God (2b)
- In our present suffering (3-4)
And this is where we’re going in v 5: 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. And v6-8 tell us that God shows us his love in a physical way by placing his Son upon the cross of Calvary to die for our sin. So, how is it that we won’t be ashamed? Two actions by God lead us to this place of understanding that our hope will not disappoint us. He has poured his love into our hearts (Holy Spirit) – and he gave his son to die for our sins.
A lot of people think that we’re out in left field when we talk of heaven and the spiritual things of God. But, we know because of these two actions that one day – our hope will be a reality. We’ll see him face to face – we will be like him for we shall see him as he is AND, we will not be disappointed.
That’s what faith is. That’s what this man’s trust is all about: Hope in God and what He has said. For hope is a knowledge of something to come that has yet to be realized. But we know it will and we will not be disappointed!
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6 my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. The writer knows that God’s promises are true. The writer knows that God’s word is something in which he can put his hope! And so he waits because his trust is in God.
Transition: now the writer moves from the first person to the third person. He was praying to God, He gave testimony of God’s faithfulness, now he directs what he has to say to the people.
III. His Plea: A Call to Hope (7-8)
exp.: rd v 7-8; O Israel, hope in the Lord, That’s where my hope is! The best salesman is a happy customer and the Psalmist fits that description. O Israel, hope in the Lord. Why? He gives two really good reasons:
- For with the Lord there is חסד steadfast love, I asked a Jewish rabbi what חסד (hessed) means. He said: most simply put, Grace.
- And with him is abundant, plentiful redemption.
These two characteristics are the 2nd and 3rd characteristic we’ve seen to which the Psalmist attributes being ‘with’ God.
חסד is with God; abundant redemption is with God, look back to v. 4: forgiveness is with God! He reminds us of that in v. 8 – And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. It doesn’t matter where he is or how he got there. God will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Conclusion: Chuck Swindoll writes: Do you remember the last time you got a spanking? I remember…As a matter of fact, the spanking was on my thirteenth birthday…In our home…when you had a birthday you were sort of “king for a day.” I remember lying around in bed and on the sofa, barking orders…. And so my father, from the flower bed outside, sensing the need for some correction, called me, “Charles.” And I said, “Yeah,” which was mistake #1 because in our home you didn’t say “Yeah,” you said, “Yes sir.” And then he called…again and said, “Come out and help me weed the flower bed.” And I said, “No,” which was mistake #2. He graciously continued…, “Now don’t lie there and act like a three-year-old. Come out and help me weed this flower bed._” I said, “Daddy, I’m not three, I’m thirteen.”
…that’s the last thing I remember on that day because with both hands and both feet he landed on my body. And he did not let go until I was very vigorously weeding the flower bed….
Chuck ends the story with a profound thought: I still remember it even though it was years ago. As we worked together through most of that day, he said to me at a time that was well chosen, “Son, I would be less than a good dad if I did not correct you when you disobey.”
Redemption often comes from that cold, dark deep hole we’ve dug ourselves into. We thought we were king, but the King of Glory, in all of his love, redeems us from the pit.
It is this same hope in God’s Word that we preach. It is this same faith we hold so dear:
- That God is holy, perfect and righteous.
- That we are sinners… unable to change our condition.
- So in his tender mercy toward us, he acted:
- He sent his only Son to live a perfect and sinless life.
- And then crucified him on the cross of Calvary to take away our sins.
- And by placing our trust in him – this powerful, almighty God, we can have a sweet relationship with him forever.
- If you’ve never trusted him before, let today be the day!
Title: In a moment we’ll be dismissed, but our time together isn’t over. We’re going to spend some time in fellowship. There will be coffee and some goodies in the back – there in the Cornerstone area. Let’s visit together. Maybe you have questions about what it means to commit your life to Christ. Maybe, you’re interested in joining the church. Come visit with me about that. Maybe there is another decision on your heart. Let’s talk.