Have you ever read the book of Psalms and found that certain Psalms reach down into the details of your life and seem to get you? You may be going through a season of life where the writers’ experiences, and conversations with the Lord, map closely with what you are going through. Many Psalms of Lament have touched my life like that over this past year. Let’s look closely at a specific lament, Psalm 130, and see how it speaks to our life and circumstances today.
The author, Mark Vroegop, defines lament as “a prayer in pain that leads to trust.” I think that is such an apt description for us as we are considering Psalm 130.
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!” (vv. 1-2).
The writer of this psalm is in the depths, and this is from where he cries out to the Lord. Life is hard, and his experience of that hardship led him to vocalize this to the Lord. He asked the Lord to hear his voice. He was in a dark place.
You may be in a dark place as we close out this year. My family has been in some difficult places these past couple years. What do you cling to when you are in this place, while feeling mired down and stuck? Here are several truths we can hold on to as we lament before the Lord.
The Lord hears.
We desperately need the Lord to hear us. We need His mercy. Other people may not hear us. We may feel like our voice falls on deaf ears and we are not noticed down in this pit. However, the Lord hears and sees you. Like Hagar in Genesis 16, the Lord heard her cry and saw her while she was in the wilderness. She had nowhere else to turn. Those close to her had betrayed her; she had fled to the wilderness and the Lord met her there. He met her in the depths of her bitter experience.
The Lord hears your cry of faith and desperation.
The Lord forgives.
I often want some practical thing to hold on to that can get me out of my painful situation. Yet, forgiveness gets below the surface to my deepest, most fundamental need. The writer of Psalm 130 is rightfully aware of his need for mercy (v.2), the truth that God does not remember our iniquities (v.3) and that, with God there is forgiveness (v.4). God is in the business of bringing full redemption (v.7). He is at work, in the person of Christ, in purchasing, ransoming, and delivering the people who are His through faith.
The Lord forgives our sin.
The Lord brings hope.
How? It is through hoping in God’s word. “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope” (v.5). His word is reliable; It is sure and steady. God’s word does not change, and His faithful character has been revealed, throughout time, in His word. The writer calls on Israel, God’s historic people, to hope in the Lord.
He also calls you and I to put our hope in the Lord. The band Shane & Shane sing a beautiful rendition of Psalm 130. Many mornings, as I am slowly waking my daughters up for the school-day, I play this song before they climb out of bed. The lyrics of it stir my soul as I wait for the Lord.
“I will wait for you, I will wait for you. On your word I will rely. I will wait for you, surely wait for you, till my soul is satisfied.”
Where is your hope grounded? Is it in your circumstances changing? Or, is your hope in the one who has steadfast love and full redemption?
Shane and Shane join the dots for us from Psalm 130 to Jesus. It is precisely because Jesus came into our depths of sin and death, and then rose again, that we have this profound hope.
One of the things that Lament struggles with is the question of “how long”? The book of Lamentations grapples with this agonizing question and many of the Psalms of Lament do as well. How long do we wait? Psalm 130 says we wait through the night more than watchmen wait for the morning. The writer repeats this fact two times for us in verse 6. We wait until we experience the steadfast love and mercy of the Lord. We wait until we know more of His plentiful redemption that is ours from His hand. We wait until our soul is satisfied in Him.
The Lord brings hope to those tempted to give up.
These are some of the concrete contours where the Lord meets us right here, right now in Psalm 130. We have been in the depths. We may still be in the depths as we speak. This place may be from where we are crying out to the Lord even today.
This prayer in pain from the depths has led the writer to hope in a God who hears, who forgives, and who brings hope. As sure as the morning comes—and those Israelite watchmen sure needed the morning to come—this writer experienced the provision of God’s steadfast love. He saw the provision and security that comes with a hope in the only lasting giver of hope.
Lord, help us to hope, to cling to you come what may, knowing that you are worth waiting for. You hear, and you delight to provide your fullness and forgiveness to us!