The Word Made Fresh
(A song of ascent.)
1Out of the depths of despair I cry out to you, LORD –
2Lord, hear my voice!
Listen to my petitions!
3If you keep track of our mistakes,
who could ever be innocent, LORD?
4But you are forgiving, and for that you are revered.
5I wait for the LORD. Mine is a life of waiting for the LORD
and hoping in God’s promises.
6I wait for the LORD more than those who watch for morning light,
more than those who watch for morning light.
7Israel, put your hope in the LORD!
For the Lord loves steadfastly,
and has power to redeem.
8The LORD will redeem Israel from all its sins.
Superscription: the 11th of the 15 “songs of ascent.” In Christian tradition this psalm has been included in the 7 “penitential” psalms, along with 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, and 143 – all but two of these are said to be “of David.” In the Latin mass Psalm 130 is known simply as the “de profundis” (“out of the depths”).
1-2: All of us can relate to the opening words, “Out of the depths,” because all of us have been in situations that felt like holes out of which we could not climb. The opening line of the psalm is a simple request for God to hear.
3-4: Next the author acknowledges God’s sovereignty and our dependence on God’s mercy.
5-6: And so, the request being raised, there is nothing to do but wait and hope. The plaintive doublet in verse 6 underscores the anxiety of the situation.
7-8: Yet, as is so often the case in the psalms, the author’s primary concern is for the whole community of God’s people, and therefore the prayer ends with an expression of confidence that all will be well regardless of the outcome of the individual’s circumstance.
Prayers that I raise for God to rescue me from some situation in life should never be prayers for “me, me, me.” I am part of a community, large or small, and any change in my situation may impact the lives of others around me. I should always be aware of that when I pray for God to help “me.”