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.

4. But with thee there is forgiveness. This verse leads us farther. Though all men confess with the mouth that there is no human being in the world whom God may not justly adjudge to everlasting death, should it so please him, yet how few are persuaded of the truth which the Prophet now adds, that the grace of which they stand in need shall not be denied them? They either sleep in their sins through stupidity, or fluctuate amidst a variety of doubts, and, at length, are overwhelmed with despair. This maxim, “that no man is free from sin,” is, as I have said, received among all men without dispute, and yet the majority shut their eyes to their own faults, and settle securely in hiding ­ places to which, in their ignorance, they have betaken themselves, if they are not forcibly roused out of them, and then, when pursued close by the judgments of God, they are overwhelmed with alarm, or so greatly tormented as to fall into despair. The consequence of this want of hope in men, that God will be favorable to them, is an indifference about coming into the Divine presence to supplicate for pardon. When a man is awakened with a lively sense of the judgment of God, he cannot fail to be humbled with shame and fear. Such self-dissatisfaction would not however suffice, unless at the same time there were added faith, whose office it is to raise up the hearts which were cast down with fear, and to encourage them to pray for forgiveness. David then acted as he ought to have done when, in order to his attaining genuine repentance, he first summons himself before God’s judgment seat; but, to preserve his confidence from failing under the overpowering influence of fear, he presently adds the hope which there was of obtaining pardon. It is, indeed, a matter which comes under our daily observation, that those who proceed not beyond the step of thinking themselves deserving of endless death, rush, like frenzied men, with great impetuosity against God. The better, therefore, to confirm himself and others, the Prophet declares that God’s mercy cannot be separated or torn away from himself. “As soon as I think upon thee,” he says in amount, “thy clemency also presents itself to my mind, so that I have no doubt that thou wilt be merciful to me, it being impossible for thee to divest thyself of thy own nature: the very fact that thou art God is to me a sure guarantee that thou wilt be merciful ” At the same time let it be understood, that he does not here speak of a confused knowledge of the grace of God, but of such a knowledge of it as enables the sinner to conclude with certainty, that as soon as he seeks God he shall find him ready to be reconciled towards him. It is not therefore surprising that among the Papists there is no steady calling upon God, when we consider that, in consequence of their mingling their own merits, satisfactions, and worthy preparation ­ as they term it ­ with the grace of God, they continue always in suspense and doubt respecting their reconciliation with God. Thus it comes to pass, that by praying they only augment their own sorrows and torments, just as if a man should lay wood upon a fire already kindled. Whoever would reap profit from the exercise of prayer, must necessarily begin with free remission of sins. It is also proper to mark the final cause ­ as we say ­ for which God is inclined to forgive, and never comes forward without showing himself easy to be pacified towards those who serve him; which is the absolute necessity of this hope of obtaining forgiveness, to the existence of piety, and the worship of God in the world. This is another principle of which the Papists are ignorant. They, indeed, make long sermons 121121     “Concionantur.” — Lat. Ils tiendront long propos.” — Fr. about the fear of God, but, by keeping poor souls in perplexity and doubt, they build without a foundation. The first step to the right serving of God unquestionably is, to submit ourselves to him willingly and with a free heart. The doctrine which Paul teaches concerning alms-deeds, 2 Corinthians 9:7, that “God loveth a cheerful giver,” is to be extended to all parts of the life. How is it possible for any man to offer himself cheerfully to God unless he rely upon his grace, and be certainly persuaded that the obedience he yields is pleasing to him? When this is not the case all men will rather shun God, and be afraid to appear in his presence, and if they do not altogether turn their back upon him, they will catch at subterfuges. In short, the sense of God’s judgment, unless conjoined with the hope of forgiveness, strikes men with terror, which must necessarily engender hatred. It is no doubt true, that the sinner, who, alarmed at the Divine threatenings, is tormented in himself, does not despise God, but yet he shuns him; and this shunning of him is downright apostasy and rebellion. Whence it follows, that men never serve God aright unless they know that he is a gracious and merciful being. The other reason to which I have adverted must also be remembered, which is, that unless we are assured that what we offer to God is acceptable to him, we will be seized with indolence and stupidity which will keep us from doing our duty. Although unbelievers often show a great deal of earnestness, just as we see the Papists laboriously occupied with their superstitions, yet, from their not being persuaded that God is reconciled to them, they do not all the while render to him any voluntary obedience. Were they not held back by a slavish fear, the horrible rebellion of their heart, which this fear keeps hidden and suppressed, would soon manifest itself externally.

VIEWNAME is study