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Psalm 130

Waiting for Divine Redemption

A Song of Ascents.

1

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.


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1. Out of the deep places have I cried to thee, O Jehovah! It is to be noticed that the Prophet speaks of himself as sending forth his voice, as it were from out of a deep gulf, 118118     The depths or deep gulfs are used in Scripture as an emblem of extreme danger or calamity, whether of body or of mind. See Psalm 69:2, 15. “The Papists, taking the deep as a type of purgatory, recite this Psalm in the persons of those who have died in their communion.” — Cresswell. To this Calvin afterwards adverts. feeling himself overwhelmed with calamities. As the miseries to which there is no prospect of a termination commonly bring despair in their train, nothing is more difficult than for persons, when involved in grievous and deep sorrow, to stir up their minds to the exercise of prayer. And it is wonderful, considering that whilst we enjoy peace and prosperity we are cold in prayer, because then our hearts are in a state of infatuated security, how in adversities, which ought to quicken us, we are still more stupefied. But the Prophet derives confidence in coming to the throne of grace from the very troubles, cares, dangers and sorrow into which he was plunged. He expresses his perplexity and the earnestness of his desire both by the word cry, and by the repetition continued in the second verse. So much the more detestable then is the barbarous ignorance of the Papist’s, in shamefully profaning this Psalm by wresting it to a purpose wholly foreign to its genuine application. To what intent do they mumble it over for the dead, if it is not that, in consequence of Satan having bewitched them, they may by their profanity extinguish a doctrine of singular utility? From the time that this Psalm was, by a forced interpretation, applied to the souls of the dead, it is very generally believed to be of no use whatever to the living, and thus the world has lost an inestimable treasure.

3. If thou, O God! shoudst mark iniquities 119119     The allusion is to judicial proceedings. It is as if the Psalmist had said, If thou wert, like an earthly judge, to note down every minute circumstance of guilt, who would be able to stand such a trial, or leave thy court unconvicted, or uncondemned? The verb, “שמר, denotes not only to mark, or observe, but to observe diligently, so as to retain a perpetual memory of what is done amiss ­ a rigid and judicial observation of faults: see Job 10:14; Job 14:16, 17 ­ Phillips. Here the Prophet acknowledges that although grievously afflicted, he had justly deserved such punishment, as had been inflicted upon him. As by his own example he gives a rule which the whole Church ought to observe, let no man presume to intrude himself into the presence of God, but in the way of humbly deprecating his wrath; and especially when God exercises severity in his dealings towards us, let us know that we are required to make the same confession which is here uttered. Whoever either flatters himself or buries his sins by inattention to them, deserves to pine away in his miseries; at least he is unworthy of obtaining from God the smallest alleviation. Whenever God then exhibits the tokens of his wrath, let even the man who seems to others to be the holiest of all his fellows, descend to make this confession, that should God determine to deal with us according to the strict demands of his law, and to summon us before his tribunal, not one of the whole human race would be able to stand. We grant that it is one man only who here prays, but he at once pronounces sentence upon the whole human race. “All the children of Adam,” he substantially says, “from the first to the last, are lost and condemned, should God require them to render up an account of their life.” It is therefore necessary that even the holiest of men should pass under this condemnation, that they may betake themselves to the mercy of God as their only refuge. The Prophet does not however mean to extenuate his own fault by thus involving others with himself, as we see hypocrites do, who when they dare not altogether justify themselves, resort to this subterfuge, “Am I the first or the only man who has offended?” and thus, mingling themselves with a multitude of others, they think themselves half absolved from their guilt. But the Prophet, instead of seeking to shelter himself under such a subterfuge, rather confesses, after having thoroughly examined himself, that if of the whole human race not even one can escape eternal perdition, this instead of lessening rather increased his obnoxiousness to punishment. Whoever, as if he had said, shall come into the presence of God, whatever may be his eminence for sanctity, he must succumb and stand confounded, 120120     “Et demeure confus.” ­ Fr. what then will be the case as to me, who am not one of the best? The right application of this doctrine is, for every man to examine in good earnest his own life by the perfection which is enjoined upon us in the law. In this way he will be forced to confess that all men without exception have deserved everlasting damnation; and each will acknowledge in respect to himself that he is a thousand times undone. Farther, this passage teaches us that, since no man can stand by his own works, all such as are accounted righteous before God, are righteous in consequence of the pardon and remission of their sins. In no other manner can any man be righteous in the sight of God. Very differently do the Papists think. They indeed confess that the deficiencies of our works are supplied by the lenity which God exercises towards us; but at the same time they dream of a partial righteousness, on the ground of which men may stand before God. In entertaining such an idea they go very far astray from the sense of the Prophet, as will appear more plainly from the sequel.




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