Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
Through his Word, the Holy Spirit confronts us, corrects us, sometimes confuses us—and comforts us.
He tends to turn our way of thinking upside down. Jesus points to a small child as a great one. Saint Paul tells us when he is weak, then he is strong. We even are told that those who mourn are blessed.
Psalm 130 is a lament. We might say the person was down in the dumps. He said he was in the depths.
Perhaps it will help us to think of an empty well or cistern. A person who falls into such a thing has no way to climb out. He’s stuck there. All he can see are the walls that hold him in and an opening above that is empty. All he can do is call out for help.
He will call and call—and then call louder.
That’s what the psalmist was doing.
But the call was not going out to friends or family. The only one who could see the depth of his need, the only one able to rescue him was the Lord his God.
He was not in physical danger. Sin had trapped him. Guilt was smothering him.
He laments, “If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?”
He knew the answer, and so do we: No one!
Many are the things in life that can get us down. Failure and frustration seem to be part of life.
Many are the things in life that present us with peril. Nothing, however, matches the risk of facing the Holy One who sees every sin and delivers crushing justice.
The pit of hell is deep. No human ever has, or ever will escape from it. The day will come when demons will not be able to leave.
The thought of that can lead to despair. The demonic whispers from those depths say: “This is what you deserve.” It claims, “There is no way out. Your sin damns you, just as it did us.”
“O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.”
Mercy is our only hope. We have no other ground to stand on. Everything else lands us in the depths.
But there was the sound of hope in the voice of the one writing this psalm. He continued, “But with you there is forgiveness; therefore, you are feared” (verse 4).
This fear was one of respect and confidence. “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope” (verse 5). He adds, “My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning” (verse 6).
We pay attention to these words. We will remember them the next time we are down in the dumps. If the Lord can pull us from the deathtrap of hell, what other danger would he not be able to deliver us from?
One last word of encouragement: “Put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love” (verse 7).
Sometimes we need to be in the depths before we remember to look up. When we do, we find God’s unfailing love.
That’s the upside of being down.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please listen when we call for help. We have sung the words, “When all things seem against us to drive us to despair, we know one gate is open, one ear will hear our prayer.” Lead us to believe those words and call out our prayers in faith and hope. Amen.
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.