a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

Psalm 130

Waiting for Divine Redemption

A Song of Ascents.


Out of the depths I cry to you, O L ord.


Lord, hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive

to the voice of my supplications!



If you, O L ord, should mark iniquities,

Lord, who could stand?


But there is forgiveness with you,

so that you may be revered.



I wait for the L ord, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;


my soul waits for the Lord

more than those who watch for the morning,

more than those who watch for the morning.



O Israel, hope in the L ord!

For with the L ord there is steadfast love,

and with him is great power to redeem.


It is he who will redeem Israel

from all its iniquities.

5. I have waited for Jehovah. After having testified in general that God is ready to show mercy to poor sinners who betake themselves to him, the Psalmist concludes that he is thereby encouraged to entertain good hope. The past tense in the verbs wait and trust is put for the present. I have waited for I wait; I have hoped for I hope. The repetition occurring in the first part of the verse is emphatic; and the word soul gives additional emphasis, implying, as it does, that the Prophet trusted in God even with the deepest affections of his heart. From this we also gather that he was not only patient and constant in the sight of men, but that even in the inward feelings of his heart he had maintained quietness and patience before God, which is a very evident proof of faith. Many, no doubt, are restrained by vain glory from openly murmuring against God or betraying their distrust, but there is hardly one in ten who, when removed from the inspection of his fellow-men, and in his own heart, waits for God with a quiet mind. The Psalmist adds, in the concluding clause, that what supported his patience was the confidence which he reposed in the divine promises. Were these promises taken away, the grace of God would necessarily vanish from our sight, and thus our hearts would fail and be overwhelmed with despair. Besides, he teaches us, that our being contented with the word of God alone affords a genuine proof of our hope. When a man, embracing the word, becomes assured of having his welfare attended to by God, this assurance will be the mother of waiting or patience. Although the Prophet here speaks to himself for the purpose of confirming his faith, yet there is no doubt that he suggests to all the children of God like matter of confidence in reference to themselves. In the first place he sets before them the word, that they may depend entirely upon it; and next he warns them that faith is vain and ineffectual unless it frame us to patience.

6. My soul hath waited for the Lord before the watchers of the morning. In this verse he expresses both the ardor and the perseverance of his desire. In saying that he anticipated the watchmen, he shows by this similitude with what diligence and alacrity he breathed after God. And the repetition is a proof of his perseverance; for there is no doubt that thereby he intended to express an uninterrnitted continuance of the same course, and consequently perseverance. Both these qualities in his exercise, are worthy of attention; for it is too manifest how slow and cold we are in elevating our minds to God, and also how easily we are shaken and even fall at every little blast of wind. Farther, as the watches of the night were in ancient times usually divided into four parts, this passage may be explained as implying that as the watchmen of the night, who keep watch by turns, are careful in looking when the morning will dawn, so the Prophet looked to God with the greatest attention of mind. But the more natural sense seems to be, that as in the morning the warders of the gates are more wakeful than all other people, and are the earliest in rising, that they may appear at the posts assigned them, so the mind of the Prophet hastened with all speed to seek God. The repetition, as I have already observed, shows that he stood keeping his gaze perseveringly fixed upon its object. We must always beware of allowing our fervor to languish through the weariness of delay, should the Lord for any length of time keep us in suspense. 122122     Some, as Street, Mant, Dr. Adam Clarke, French and Skinner, and Phillips, suppose that the allusion in this verse is to the watchings which the Priests and Levites in their turns exercised during the night in the Temple, (see Psalm 34:1,) and especially to those officers of theirs who were appointed to watch for the first dawn of day, in order that the morning sacrifice might be offered. “In the Talmudical Tract Tamid it is related, ‘The prefect said to them, Go and see if the time of slaying; have arrived; if it had arrived, the watcher calls out, ברקאי, Coruscations.’ Agreeably to this explanation of the verse is the rendering of the Chaldee, which is as follows: “My soul waits for the Lord, more than the keepers of the morning vigils, which they observe for offering of the morning oblation.” ­ Phillips. “The custom alluded to by the Targumist,” [or Chaldee,] says Street, “is mentioned in Exodus 30:7. ‘And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps he shall burn incense upon it.’” “The similitude,” observes Mant, “is beautifully expressive of the eager impatience of the Psalmist; which is still further augmented by the repetition.”

7. But let Israel hope in Jehovah. After having spoken of himself, and exhibited in his own person an example for all to follow, he now applies the doctrine to the whole body of the Church. It is to be noticed that the foundation upon which he would have the hope of all the godly to rest is the mercy of God, the source from which redemption springs. In the first clause he reminds them that although they bring with them no worth or merits of their own, it ought to suffice them that God is merciful. This mutual relation between the faith of the Church and the free goodness of God is to be attentively marked, to the end we may know that all those who, depending upon their own merits, persuade themselves that God will be their rewarder, have not their hope regulated according to the rule of Scripture. From this mercy, as from a fountain, the Prophet derives redemption; for there is no other cause which moves God to manifest himself as the redeemer of his people but his mercy. He describes this redemption as plenteous, that the faithful, even when reduced to the last extremity, may sustain themselves from the consideration that there are in the hand of God many and incredible means by which to save them. This Psalm may have been composed at a time when the Church was in so very afflicted a condition as might have discouraged one and all, had not the infinite greatness of the power of God served as a buckler to defend them. The true use of the present doctrine is, first, that the faithful, even when plunged in the deepest gulfs, should not doubt of their deliverance being in the hand of God, who, whenever necessity shall require, will be able to find means, which are now hidden and unknown to us; and, secondly, that they should hold it as certain, that as often as the Church shall be afflicted he will manifest himself to be her deliverer. To this truth the sentence immediately following refers.

8. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities. Here the Psalmist applies more closely to the Church what he has said in the preceding verse. He concludes that it is not to be doubted that God, who has it in his power to save by multiplied means, will prove himself the deliverer of the people whom he has chosen. By these words he teaches us, that when we have evidence of our being adopted by God, we ought also to regard our salvation as certain. His meaning might be explained more familiarly in this way: As to redeem is the continual office of God, and as he is not the redeemer of all men indiscriminately, but only of his chosen people, there is no reason for apprehending that the faithful will not emerge from all calamities; for were it otherwise, God would cease to execute the office which he claims to himself. He repeats the sentiment of the preceding verse, that, provided Israel with all humility draw near to God to plead for pardon, his sins will not be an obstacle in the way of God’s showing himself his redeemer. Although the Hebrew word, עון, avon, is often put for the punishment of sin, yet it also contains a tacit reference to the fault. Whenever, then, God promises a mitigation of the punishment, he at the same time gives assurance that he will pardon the sins; or rather in offering to sinners a gratuitious reconciliation, he promises them forgiveness. According to this exposition it is here said that he will redeem his Church, not from the captivity of Babylon, or from the tyranny and oppression of enemies, or from penury, or, in short, from any other disasters but from sin; for until God pardon the sins of the men whom he afflicts, deliverance is not to be hoped for. Let us then learn from this passage in what way we are to expect deliverance from all calamities, or the order which it becomes us to observe in seeking it. Remission of sins always goes first, without which nothing will come to a favorable issue. Those who only desire to shake off the punishment are like silly invalids, who are careless about the disease itself with which they are afflicted, provided the symptoms which occasion them trouble for a time are removed. In order, then, that God may deliver us from our miseries, we must chiefly endeavor to be brought to a state of favor with him by obtaining the remission of our sins. If this is not obtained, it will avail us little to have the temporal punishment remitted; for that often happens even to the reprobate themselves. This is true and substantial deliverance, when God, by blotting out our sins, shows himself merciful towards us. Whence, also, we gather, that having once obtained forgiveness, we have no reason to be afraid of our being excluded from free access to, and from enjoying the ready exercise of, the loving­kindness and mercy of God; for to redeem from iniquity is equivalent to moderating punishments or chastisements. This serves as an argument to disprove the preposterous invention of the Papists respecting satisfactions and purgatory, as if God, in forgiving the fault, still reserved for a future time the execution of the punishment upon the sinner. If it is objected that the Lord sometimes punishes those whom he has already pardoned; in reply, I grant that he does not always, at the very moment in which he reconciles men to himself, show them the tokens of his favor, for he chastises them to render them circumspect for the future, but while he does this, he in the meantime fails not to moderate his rigour. This, however, forms no part of the satisfactions by which the Papists imagine that they present to God the half of the price of their redemption. In innumerable passages of Scripture, where God promises to his people outward blessings, he always begins with a promise of the pardon of sin. It is therefore the grossest ignorance to say, that God does not remit the punishment till they have pacified him by their works. Moreover, while God’s intention in inflicting some punishments or chastisements upon the faithful, is to bring them to yield a more perfect obedience to his law, the Papists are mistaken in extending these punishments beyond death. But it is not wonderful to find them heaping together so many heathenish dreams, seeing they adhere not to the true and only way of reconciliation, which is, that God is merciful only to such as seek the expiation of their sins in the sacrifice of Christ. It is to be noticed that it is said from all iniquities, that poor sinners, although they feel themselves to be guilty in many ways, may not cease to cherish the hope that God will be merciful to them.

VIEWNAME is study