Out of the depths have I cried to you, O LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.”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.
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.
"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.
"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.
(a) Being in great distress and sorrow.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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 66:12), or have gone over its back (Isaiah 51:23); here the customary figurative language חרשׁ און in Job 4:8 (cf. Hosea 10:13) is extended to another figure of hostile dealing: without compassion and without consideration they ill-treated the stretched-forth back of the people who were held in subjection, as though it were arable land, and, without restraining their ferocity and setting a limit to their spoiling of the enslaved people and country, they drew their furrow-strip (מעניתם, according to the Ker מענותם) long. But מענה does not signify (as Keil on 1 Samuel 14:14 is of opinion, although explaining the passage more correctly than Thenius) the furrow ( equals תּלם, גּדוּד), but, like Arab. ma‛nât, a strip of arable land which the ploughman takes in hand at one time, at both ends of which consequently the ploughing team (צמד) always comes to a stand, turns round, and ploughs a new furrow; from ענה, to bend, turn (vid., Wetzstein's Excursus II p. . It is therefore: they drew their furrow-turning long (dative of the object instead of the accusative with Hiph., as e.g., in Isaiah 29:2, cf. with Piel in Psalm 34:4; Psalm 116:16, and Kal Psalm 69:6, after the Aramaic style, although it is not unhebraic). Righteous is Jahve - this is an universal truth, which has been verified in the present circumstances; - He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked (עבות as in Psalm 2:3; here, however, it is suggested by the metaphor in Psalm 129:3, cf. Job 39:10; lxx αὐχένας, i.e., ענוק), with which they held Israel bound. From that which has just been experienced Israel derives the hope that all Zion's haters (a newly coined name for the enemies of the religion of Israel) will be obliged to retreat with shame and confusion.
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