Psalm 130:1
A Song of degrees. Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.
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(1) Out of the depths.—A recurrent image for overwhelming distress (Psalm 18:16; Psalm 88:7; also Psalm 69:2, where the same Hebrew word occurs). It is used literally in Isaiah 51:10 for the sea.

Psalm 130:1-2. Out of the depths — Being overwhelmed with deep distresses and terrors, and ready to despair; have I cried unto thee — “Like another Jonas, entombed in the whale’s belly, and surrounded by all the waves of the ocean.” Observe, reader, “Fervent prayer will find its way through every obstruction to the ears of him who sitteth upon his holy hill.”

130:1-4 The only way of relief for a sin-entangled soul, is by applying to God alone. Many things present themselves as diversions, many things offer themselves as remedies, but the soul finds that the Lord alone can heal. And until men are sensible of the guilt of sin, and quit all to come at once to God, it is in vain for them to expect any relief. The Holy Ghost gives to such poor souls a fresh sense of their deep necessity, to stir them up in earnest applications, by the prayer of faith, by crying to God. And as they love their souls, as they are concerned for the glory of the Lord, they are not to be wanting in this duty. Why is it that these matters are so long uncertain with them? Is it not from sloth and despondency that they content themselves with common and customary applications to God? Then let us up and be doing; it must be done, and it is attended with safety. We are to humble ourselves before God, as guilty in his sight. Let us acknowledge our sinfulness; we cannot justify ourselves, or plead not guilty. It is our unspeakable comfort that there is forgiveness with him, for that is what we need. Jesus Christ is the great Ransom; he is ever an Advocate for us, and through him we hope to obtain forgiveness. There is forgiveness with thee, not that thou mayest be presumed upon, but that thou mayest be feared. The fear of God often is put for the whole worship of God. The only motive and encouragement for sinners is this, that there is forgiveness with the Lord.Out of the depths - The word rendered "depths" is from a verb - עמק ‛âmaq - which means to be deep; then, to be unsearchable; then, to make deep; and it would apply to anything low, deep, or profound, as the ocean, a pit, or a valley. The word used here occurs elsewhere only in the following places: Psalm 69:2, Psalm 69:14, where it is rendered "deep," applied to waters; and Isaiah 51:10; Ezekiel 27:34, where it is rendered "depths." The word, as used here, would be applicable to deep affliction, dejection, or distress. It would be applicable

(a) to affliction - the depths of sorrow from loss of friends, property, or bodily suffering;

(b) sin - the depths into which the soul is plunged under the consciousness of guilt;

(c) mental trouble - low spirits - melancholy - darkness of mind - loss of comfort in religion - powerful temptation - disappointment - the anguish caused by ingratitude - or sadness of heart in view of the crimes and the sorrows of people - or grief at the coldness, the hardness, the insensibility of our friends to their spiritual condition.

From all these depths of sorrow it is our privilege to call upon the Lord; in those depths of sorrow it is proper thus to implore his help. Often he brings us into these "depths" that we may be led to call upon him; always when we are brought there, we should call upon him.

Have I cried unto thee, O Lord - Or rather, "do I now invoke thee," or call earnestly upon thee. The language does not refer so much to the past as the present. I now cry for mercy; I now implore thy blessing. The condition is that of one who in deep sorrow, or under deep conviction for sin, pleads earnestly that God would have compassion on him.


Ps 130:1-8. The penitent sinner's hope is in God's mercy only.

1, 2. depths—for great distress (Ps 40:2; 69:3).

1 Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.

2 Lord, hear my voice, let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.

3 If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

5 I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do Ihope.

6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

7 Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.

8 And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Psalm 130:1

"Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord." This is the Psalmist's statement and plea: he had never ceased to pray even when brought into the lowest state. The depths usually silence all they engulf, but they could not close the mouth of this servant of the Lord; on the contrary, it was in the abyss itself that he cried unto Jehovah. Beneath the floods prayer lived and struggled; yea, above the roar of the billows rose the cry of faith. It little matters where we are if we can pray; but prayer is never more real and acceptable than when it rises out of the worst places. Deep places beget deep devotion. Depths of earnestness are stirred by depths of tribulation. Diamonds sparkle most amid the darkness. Prayer de profundis gives to God gloria in excelsis. The more distressed we are, the more excellent is the faith which trusts bravely in the Lord, and therefore appeals to him, and to him alone. Good men may be in the depths of temporal and spiritual trouble; but good men in such cases look only to their God, and they stir themselves up to be more instant and earnest in prayer than at other times. The depth of their distress moves the depths of their being; and from the bottom of their hearts an exceeding great and bitter cry rises unto the one living and true God. David had often been in the deep, and as often had he pleaded with Jehovah, his God, in whose hand are all deep places. He prayed, and remembered that he had prayed, and pleaded that he had prayed; hoping ere long to receive an answer. It would be dreadful to look back on trouble and feel forced to own that we did not cry unto the Lord in it; but it is most comforting to know that whatever we did not do, or could not do, yet we did pray, even in our worst times. He that prays in the depth will not sink out of his depth. He that cries out of the depths shall soon sing in the heights.

Psalm 130:2

"Lord, hear my voice." It is all we ask; but nothing less will content us. If the Lord will but hear us we will leave it to his superior wisdom to decide whether he will answer us or no. It is better for our prayer to be heard than answered. If the Lord were to make an absolute promise to answer all our requests it might be rather a curse than a blessing, for it would be casting the responsibility of our lives upon ourselves, and we should be placed in a very anxious position: but now the Lord hears our desires, and that is enough; we only wish him to grant them If his infinite wisdom sees that it would be for our good and for his glory. Note that the Psalmist spoke audibly in prayer: this is not at all needful, but it is exceedingly helpful; for the use of the voice assists the thoughts. Still, there is a voice in silent supplication, a voice in our weeping, a voice in that sorrow which cannot find a tongue: that voice the Lord will hear if its cry is meant for his ear. "Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication." The Psalmist's cry is a beggar's petition; he begs the great King and Lord to lend an ear to it, he has supplicated many times, but always with one voice, or for one purpose; and he begs to be noticed in the one matter which he has pressed with so much importunity. He would have the King hearken, consider, remember, and weigh his request. He is confused and his prayer may therefore be broken, and difficult to understand; he begs therefore that his Lord will give the more earnest and compassionate heed to the voice of his many and painful pleadings. When we have already prayed over our troubles it is well to pray over our prayers. If we can find no more words, let us entreat the Lord to hear those petitions which we have already presented. If we have faithfully obeyed the precept by praying without ceasing, we may be confident that the Lord will faithfully fulfil the promise by helping us without fail. Though the Psalmist was under a painful sense of sin, and so was in the depth, his faith pleaded in the teeth of conscious unworthiness; for well he knew that the Lord's keeping his promise depends upon his own character and not upon that of his erring creatures.

Psalm 130:3

continued...THE ARGUMENT

This Psalm was composed by the prophet when he was conflicting with horrors of his conscience for the guilt of his sins, and imploring God’s mercy and pardon.

The psalmist being troubled for and acknowledging his sins, professeth his hope in God, Psalm 130:1-6, and exhorteth Israel to hope also in him, Psalm 130:7,8.

Being overwhelmed with deep distresses and terrors, and ready to despair.

Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. Out of deep waters, out of the depths of the sea; not literally, as Jonah, who really was there, and from thence cried unto the Lord, Jonah 2:2; but figuratively; meaning that he had been in the depths of sin, or brought into a low estate by it, as all men are: they are brought into debt by it, and so to a prison, the prison of the law, to be under its sentence of curse and condemnation; to a ditch, a horrible pit, a pit wherein is no water, and out of which men cannot extricate themselves; to a dunghill, to the most extrem poverty and beggary; to a dungeon, a state of thraldom, bondage, and captivity; into an hopeless and helpless condition. The depths the psalmist was now in were a deep sense of sin, under which he lay, and which brought him low; as every man is low in his own eyes, when he has a thorough sense of sin; then he sees himself unworthy of any favour from God, deserving of his wrath and displeasure; as a polluted guilty creature, loathsome and abominable; as wretched and undone in himself; as the chief of sinners, more brutish than any man, and as a beast before the Lord: but then, though the psalmist was in the depths of distress for sin, yet not in the depths of despair; he cried to God, he hoped in him, and believed there was pardon with him: or he might be in the depths of afflictions; which are sometimes, because of the greatness of them, compared to deep waters; to the deep waters of the sea, which threaten to overflow and overwhelm, but shall not; see Psalm 42:7; and in such circumstances the psalmist cried to God for help and deliverance; not to man, whose help is vain; but to God, who is able to save, and is a present help in time of need. Theodoret understands this of the psalmist's crying to God from the bottom of his heart, in the sincerity of his soul; and so his cry is opposed to feigned and hypocritical prayers. <> Out of the {a} depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.

(a) Being in great distress and sorrow.

1. Out of the depths] Deep waters are a common figure for distress and danger. Cp. Psalm 69:1-2; Psalm 69:14. It is not merely personal suffering that is meant, but national suffering, the burden of which the Psalmist feels intensely. Israel is in a danger of being overwhelmed by a sea of trouble.

have I called] He has long been praying and still continues to pray.

1–4. A cry of penitence from the depths of trouble to the God of pardon.

Verse 1. - Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord (comp. Psalm 69:2, 14; Isaiah 51:10; Ezekiel 27:34). "The depths" are the lowest abysses of calamity. They have not, however, separated Israel from God, but have rather brought him to God. Psalm 130:1The depths (מעמקּים) are not the depths of the soul, but the deep outward and inward distress in which the poet is sunk as in deep waters (Psalm 69:3, Psalm 69:15). Out of these depths he cries to the God of salvation, and importunately prays Him who rules all things and can do all things to grant him a compliant hearing (שׁמע בּ, Genesis 21:12; Genesis 26:13; Genesis 30:6, and other passages). God heard indeed even in Himself, as being the omniscient One, the softest and most secret as well as the loudest utterance; but, as Hilary observes, fides officium suum exsequitur, ut Dei auditionem roget, ut qui per naturam suam audit per orantis precem dignetur audire. In this sense the poet prays that His ears may be turned קשּׁבות (duller collateral form of קשּׁב, to be in the condition of arrectae aures), with strained attention, to his loud and urgent petition (Psalm 28:2). His life hangs upon the thread of the divine compassion. If God preserves iniquities, who can stand before Him?! He preserves them (שׁמר) when He puts them down to one (Psalm 32:2) and keeps them in remembrance (Genesis 37:11), or, as it is figuratively expressed in Job 14:17, sealed up as it were in custody in order to punish them when the measure is full. The inevitable consequence of this is the destruction of the sinner, for nothing can stand against the punitive justice of God (Nahum 1:6; Malachi 3:2; Ezra 9:15). If God should show Himself as Jāh,

(Note: Eusebius on Psalm 68 (67):5 observes that the Logos is called Ἴα as μορφὴν δούλον λαβὼν καὶ τάς ἀκτῖνας τῆς ἑαυτοῦ θεότητος συστείλας καὶ ὥσπερ καταδὺς ἐν τῷ σώματι. There is a similar passage in Vicentius Ciconia (1567), which we introduced into our larger Commentary on the Psalms (1859-60).)

no creature would be able to stand before Him, who is Adonaj, and can therefore carry out His judicial will or purpose (Isaiah 51:16). He does not, however, act thus. He does not proceed according to the legal stringency of recompensative justice. This thought, which fills up the pause after the question, but is not directly expressed, is confirmed by the following כּי, which therefore, as in Job 22:2; Job 31:18; Job 39:14; Isaiah 28:28 (cf. Ecclesiastes 5:6), introduces the opposite. With the Lord is the willingness to forgive (הסּליחה), in order that He may be feared; i.e., He forgives, as it is expressed elsewhere (e.g., Psalm 79:9), for His Name's sake: He seeks therein the glorifying of His Name. He will, as the sole Author of our salvation, who, putting all vain-glorying to shame, causes mercy instead of justice to take its course with us (cf. Psalm 51:6), be reverenced; and gives the sinner occasion, ground, and material for reverential thanksgiving and praise by bestowing "forgiveness" upon him in the plenitude of absolutely free grace.

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