“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.” (Psalms 130:1–2 NIV)
The theme of hope is attractive. What kind of hope are we talking about? We are used to being ‘hopeful’ that tomorrow’s weather will be pleasant, or that our team will win a trophy. But such hope is uncertain to the point of being a vague wish rather than a confident assurance.
The secret of this Psalmist’s confidence is found in the fact that God’s name is used 8 times in as many verses. These references tell is that He: forgives sin, comes to those how wait and hope in him, is steadfast in love and redemption, makes a difference, acts positively towards His people, is not indifferent, not rejecting, not ambivalent, not arbitrary, not stingy and much more.
Psalm 130 would make an excellent outline for a prayer time focussed on God’s nature – especially if you are feeling anything like the despair captured in this Psalm. Why not try it next time you pray?
This is traditionally the sixth of the seven ‘penitential psalms’ – Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, & 143. We begin in despair and end in hope – a summary of this pilgrimage & the Christian journey.
“The bottom has fallen out of my life” is what this Psalmist is saying – in other words this is more than normal pain and problems. This is real suffering that has led to despair. Hope is a stranger to this person. We all have this experience at times. The question is whether we have God in the midst of that experience, “The worst thing that can happen to a man is to have no God to cry to out of the depth.” Forsyth
Psalm 130 ‘sings’ through the suffering – acknowledging and not ignoring it. The suffering is not a skeleton in a closet, nor a puzzle to be explained. It is expressed. Do you feel that suffering and pain should not exist or that they are are ‘wrong’ for a person of faith? This devalues the experience and value of suffering. It denies reality. Our suffering connects us to Jesus on the cross just as his suffering on the cross connects him to our suffering.
What do we do when we are in the depths? We pray to the one who can save us, Psalm 69:1f, Ps 69:14f. The word ‘call’ in the Hebrew has an expectation of response. This prayer is not a cry into emptiness, but to a person who is expected to respond. God hears your voice. Your voice is as important to Him as anyone else’s.
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)
Our suffering has a purpose (Rom 5:1-5), and it will end at some point. But in the meantime let suffering do its work to mature our hearts and our faith to be more like the character of Jesus.
Does this Psalm speak to you at this point in your life? Do you have other favourite passages of scripture that help you pray when things look tough? Please share them in the comment box.