Text: Psalm 130
Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications. If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord More than those who watch for the morning – I say, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is mercy, And with Him is abundant redemption. And He shall redeem Israel From all his iniquities.
God’s good Holy Spirit does not tire of showing us the one sure way out of trouble: We must confess our sins, humble ourselves before the Lord, and confidently expect His gracious help. “This psalm teaches us that God’s Church should not complain or give up in their suffering, but pray their merciful Lord and Savior to forgive their sins and to take away the well-deserved punishment, and confidently believe that He wants to do it and really does it. See the royal road by which one comes to confidence in suffering and out of it to joy and gladness” (Hengstenberg). Especially we learn here to hope and wait, to wait and hope for the Lord’s help and not to cease humbly praying in faith and hope, though it may be a long time. In such waiting and hope there are two things: 1) We yearn and long within and say: “Make haste to help me, O Lord” (Psa 70:1)! Now this is easily learned in times of distress, when we cry from the depths and waves would cover us. 2) We wait with certainty that the Lord will deliver us, holding on to His promises, inwardly assured that help will come at the right time. This is so difficult, and no one can do it except by the Holy Spirit. But that’s why He had this psalm written and many others like it. With such words He puts humility, faith, and comfort in upright hearts, so that they not only learn what we should do in times of need, but also receive grace to do it. When Luther was at Coburg during the Diet of Augsburg, he was often so troubled that he himself says: “I was in greater anguish than I hope you ever will experience, and I would not wish anyone to be as I was then.” At that time he often sang this psalm, and the Word strengthened him so powerfully that he could write: “And were the world with devils filled, All watching to devour us, Our souls to fear we need not yield, They cannot overpower us” (Luther’s hymn: A Mighty Fortress; ELH 251:3).
It is our Lord’s way to wait with help, even when we think He shouldn’t wait any longer if He loved us and knew our need. And then it is Satan’s way to whisper to us: “There is no God to hear you and to save you.” But then it is also the Holy Spirit’s way to uphold us in the Word and faith and to say to our soul: “O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is mercy, And with Him is abundant redemption. And He shall redeem Israel From all his iniquities.” In the greatest need it is still worthwhile to wait on the Lord with humble faith and to keep waiting for mercy and salvation from Him, mercy – and salvation – from Him. None who wait for the Lord will be put to shame. – You know that by His Word!
Out of the depths I cry to Thee,
Lord God, O hear my wailing!
Thy gracious ear incline to me,
And make my prayer availing.
On my misdeeds in mercy look,
O deign to blot them from Thy book,
Or who can stand before Thee?
And though it tarry till the night
And till the morning waken,
My heart shall never doubt His might
Nor count itself forsaken.
Do thus, O ye of Israel’s seed,
Ye of the Spirit born indeed;
Wait for your God’s appearing.
Where’er the greatest sins abound,
By grace they are exceeded;
Thy helping hand is always found
With aid where aid in needed;
Our Shepherd good and true is He,
Who will at last His Israel free
From all their sin and sorrow.
Luther: Out of the depths I cry to Thee L 273:1.4.5 ELH 452:1.4.5 tr. 1.5 The New Congregational Hymn Book and 4. C. Winkworth;
tune: Aus tiefer Not