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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Psalms 130

 

 

Verses 1-4

DISCOURSE: 722

GOD’S MERCY AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO PRAYER

Psalms 130:1-4. Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

IN seasons of affliction, it is a great comfort to see how others in similar circumstances, have found relief. It is in this view that biography is peculiarly interesting; and Scripture biography more especially, because it is more authentic in itself, and a surer ground for wise and profitable observations. The Psalms are a rich repository of such instruction. David was a man of deep experience. His afflictions, both temporal and spiritual, were very abundant: and, as they are faithfully related to us, so do we see under them the workings of his mind. In the passage just read we see,

I. The means he used for deliverance from his distresses—

His trials were greatly diversified, and very severe—

[Unless it were recorded on divine authority, we should scarcely conceive it possible that a man of David’s character should be an object of such inveterate and envenomed malice as he was in the eyes of Saul: and, after the returns which he made to Saul, we should scarcely think that human malignity could ever arrive at such a height, or rage with such unrelenting fury, as it did in that envious and jealous monarch. Of his troubles under persecution David speaks under the same metaphor as that which is used in our text: “Save me, O Lord! for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail, while I wait for my God. They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty [Note: Psalms 69:1-4.].”

It seems, however, that on the present occasion he refers to his spiritual troubles, because it is of his iniquities that he chiefly complains, and of forgiveness that he expresses his chief desire. It might be supposed that so holy a man as he should have no complaints of this kind to make: but the truth is, that the more holy any man is, the more enlarged will be his views of the spirituality of God’s Law, and the more painful his sense of his short-comings and defects: and it should seem that David was permitted to sustain great anguish of mind on this account, that so he might be the better fitted to instruct and comfort God’s tempted people to the very end of time. Hear his complaints under a sense of God’s displeasure: “Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps: thy wrath lieth hard upon me; and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves [Note: Psalms 88:6-7.].” Sometimes he was so overwhelmed, that he thought himself altogether an outcast from God, and doubted whether he should ever find mercy at his hands: “Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies [Note: Psalms 77:7-9.]?”]

Under all his trials he had recourse to God in prayer—

[“Out of the depths he cried unto the Lord,” He well knew that none but God could support him under all his temporal afflictions, and that there was no other comforter amidst the troubles of his soul. Hence, on all occasions, he betook himself to God in prayer. Under trials from man he says, “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies [Note: Psalms 18:3-6.].” And under the frowns of Almighty God he still sought refuge in the arms of him whose displeasure he feared: “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul [Note: Psalms 116:3-4.]!” Thus did Jeremiah also, under his extremities: “They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me. Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off. I called upon thy name, O Lord, out of the low dungeon. Thou hast heard my voice; hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry [Note: Lamentations 3:53-56.]!” Thus it is that we also, under all our troubles, should approach our God. Nor should we be discouraged because we cannot find enlargement in prayer; our feelings may be too deep for utterance; and our desires may find vent only in sighs, and groans, and tears: but, if only we be sincere, God will hear our very “breathing and our cry.”]

From the account which David gives us of his prayers, we learn,

II. The views of God, from whence he derived his chief encouragement—

He dared not to plead for any thing on the footing of justice

[He was sensible that he in no respect came up to the perfect demands of God’s Law; and that, if God should “mark his iniquities,” it would be impossible for him to “stand;” since there was not an act, or word, or thought in his whole life that could endure so severe a scrutiny. Such is the view which all holy men have of their own infirmities: they know that God “charges even his angels with folly [Note: Job 4:18.],” and that “the very heavens are not clean in his sight:” how much less can man be pure, who by nature comes from a corrupt source; and, by practice, drinks iniquity like water [Note: Job 15:14-16.]? Job was the most perfect man of his day: yet he says, “If I should say I am perfect, my own tongue would prove me perverse [Note: Job 9:2-3; Job 9:20.].” And every living man must deprecate the being dealt with according to the demands of strict justice, saying, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified [Note: Psalms 143:2.].”]

His only hope was founded on the mercy of his God—

[Mercy is an essential perfection of the Divine nature, and, consequently, inseparable from God. But the expression, “There is forgiveness with thee,” intimates, that it is treasured up, as it were, in the Divine bosom, ready to be bestowed on every weeping penitent. We are told, that “it has pleased the Father that in Christ should all fulness dwell;” and that “out of his fulness we are all to receive,” according to our respective necessities. This was David’s encouragement. Had he not known this, he would have sat down in utter despair. It is a consciousness of this that emboldens a penitent to draw nigh to God, and to ask for mercy at his hands. A soul that is gone beyond the reach of mercy, hates God with a perfect hatred, and “never repents to give him glory [Note: Revelation 16:9; Revelation 16:11.]:” but the soul that hopes in his mercy, feels towards him a filial fear and reverence; and this holy fear is ever augmented in proportion to the hope that is cherished in the soul. Hence, when God says respecting his people, “I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me;” he adds, “And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise, and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them. And they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness, and for all the prosperity, that I procure unto it [Note: Jeremiah 33:8-9.].”]

In this view of David’s experience we may see,

1. Our dependence on God—

[To whom can we go in a time of trouble? Who can afford us even the smallest help, especially under a sense of sin, and under a dread of God’s displeasure? We may possess all that the world can give, but it will not for a moment soothe the agonies of a guilty conscience. Of all things under the sun, in this view, it must be said, “Miserable comforters are ye all!” Our help is in God alone. “He is the only fountain of life: and in his light alone can we see light [Note: Psalms 36:9.].”]

2. Our obligations to him—

[When we see so holy a man as David brought into “depths” where he feels as one ready to perish, what thanks can we render unto God, that we are enabled to pass through life in peaceful tranquillity, and with a cheerful hope of eternal life! None but those who have experienced the hidings of God’s face, and the terrors of his wrath, can have any conception what it is to be reduced to such a state. Does David say, “Fearfulness hath taken hold upon me, and an horrible dread hath overwhelmed me?” Why, then, is not that the condition of our souls? Who does not deserve it? Who might not well be left to sustain it throughout his whole life? If we were saved from perdition at last, it would be a mercy, for which we should have cause to bless God to all eternity. But to enjoy peace here, and the light of God’s countenance, verily this is a blessing for which we can never be sufficiently thankful.

But there is yet a richer blessing vouchsafed unto us; and that is, that in all our trials, of whatever kind, we have God himself for our refuge. Who need to be afraid of depths, when he has a God to go unto, a God able and willing to deliver him? Look at the heathen, who know not God; or at those who, though in a Christian land, are unacquainted with the great mystery of redemption. They are in a pitiable condition indeed: but the believing penitent, though in darkness, has reason to rejoice; because his “heaviness will endure but for a night, and joy will come to him in the morning.” He may descend with Jonah to the very precincts of hell; but in due season he shall be brought forth to light and liberty and joy.]

3. Our true wisdom—

[The resolution of David, in the words following our text, should be ours. Whether in trouble or at ease, let us wait on the Lord, and “hold us fast by God.” The man who has been watching through the night looks with eager desire to the break of day, when he shall be relieved from his toil. But with far greater earnestness, and with sweeter assurance too, should we wait on God, confident that he will appear for us in the hour of need, and grant us that rest which our necessities require. Let us then live in this habit; and then, “though the fig-tree should not blossom, nor the fields yield their meat, nor any herd be found in the stalls, we may rejoice in the Lard, and joy in the God of our Salvation [Note: Habakkuk 3:17-18.].”]


Verse 5-6

DISCOURSE: 723

WAITING UPON GOD

Psalms 130:5-6. I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning; I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

MANY of God’s people are at times reduced to great straits, either through the violence of persecution or the force of temptation: and, under such circumstances, what refuge have they, but in God? It is in vain for them to look to the creature: and it sometimes appears to them to no purpose to wait even upon God, because the desired relief is so long delayed. David, under delays of this kind, was sometimes discouraged: but, whatever were the depths into which he had fallen on the present occasion, it is manifest that he cast himself upon the mercy of his God, and determined to “hold fast by God,” and to maintain his confidence in him even to the end. I will,

I. Unfold to you the experience of David—

He declares it to us in few words: “he waited upon God.” And the comparison by which he illustrates the frame of his mind, will serve us as a clew, whereby to find the full import of his words. He may possibly refer to watchmen in general, who, during a long and tedious night, wait for the morning, when they shall be released from their fatigues, and retire to their rest. But I rather think that he refers to the Priests and Levites, whom he had appointed to watch nightly in the Tabernacle [Note: Psalms 134:1.], and who, if they were not filled with a spirit of devotion, by which they might enjoy communion with their God, would long earnestly for the morning, when they might terminate their irksome task. But more than they did David long for the return of God to his soul; waiting for him,

1. With earnest desire—

[No temporal distress will bear any comparison with that which is spiritual. The troubles of an awakened or tempted soul are very heavy; and the depths into which it is plunged, by an apprehension of God’s wrath, are very terrible. No wonder that David “panted after the Lord, as the hart after the water-brooks [Note: Psalms 42:1-3.]:” no wonder that, when God’s answers to his prayers were delayed, he cried, “How long, O Lord! how long [Note: Psalms 6:3; Psalms 13:1-2. four times.]?” Nor is such importunity disapproved of God: on the contrary, he would have us “cry day and night to him [Note: Luke 18:7.],” and give him no rest, till he arise, and come to our relief [Note: Isaiah 62:6-7.].]

2. With patient hope—

[Though earnest in prayer, he was willing to tarry the Lord’s leisure; and would not attempt to use any unbecoming means for his own relief. Repeatedly had he it in his power to slay Saul: but he would neither perpetrate the act himself, nor suffer it to be perpetrated by others. He committed his cause to God, to whom alone vengeance belongeth. So, in reference to the mercies he desired at God’s hands, he was willing to wait. His earnestness appears in that he says repeatedly, “My soul doth wait.” It was not a mere wish that he entertained for relief, but a most eager desire: yet was he as far from impatience as from indifference. He rested on the word of God: “In his word,” saith he, “do I hope.” It was quite sufficient for him that God had promised to succour his tempted people: and, whatever apparent contrarieties there might be between his dispensations and his word, he had no doubt but that they would all be cleared up in due season, and that not a jot or tittle of God’s word would pass away, till all were fulfilled.]

3. With assured expectation—

[A watchman knows that the morning will at last appear; and therefore, instead of abandoning his post, he waits till the destined hour for his relief arrive. Thus David assured himself that God would come to him at last, and reveal himself to him out of the abundance of his grace and love. The verses following my text shew this to have been the real experience of his soul, and afford me occasion to,]

II. Commend it to your imitation—

Not in the context only, but in other places, does David call upon us to imitate his example, and to avail ourselves of his experience for the comfort and direction of our own souls. “I had fainted,” says he, “unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the Lord [Note: Psalms 27:13-14.].” Thus would I now entreat you to mark the posture of David’s soul in this season of trial. Consider,

1. How suited it is to every one of you—

[You may not have committed David’s sins, or be subjected to David’s trials: but where is there one of you that is not a sinner before God? Who amongst you does not stand in need of mercy? Who must not find his consolation altogether in the contemplation of God; saying with David, “If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared [Note: ver. 3, 4.]?” Then it is plain that the same waiting spirit becomes you also. Yes, in a spirit of penitence should you be crying to God, “Lord, hear my voice; let thine ear be attentive to the voice of my supplications [Note: ver. 2.]!” And, however long God may defer his answer to your prayers, you should wait with meekness and patience. “If the eyes of a servant are to the hand of his master, and the eyes of a maiden to the hand of her mistress, should not your eyes be unto the Lord your God until he have mercy upon you [Note: Psalms 123:2.]?” Surely you may well be as observant of God as you expect your fellow-creature to be of you. And think how long God has waited upon you; calling, but ye would not hear; entreating, but ye would not regard him. Shall you then be impatient, if he come not at the first moment that you call; and that too when you are urged by nothing but a fear of his wrath, which you have so richly merited? Know, every one of you, that it becomes you to wait his appointed time; and to be satisfied if the morning never arrive till the very moment of your departure from this world of woe.]

2. What honour it does to God—

[A meek, patient, and submissive spirit honours every perfection of the Deity. It expresses a confidence in his wisdom, as alone discerning the fittest time to appear in your behalf. It shews a persuasion of his goodness, that does not willingly afflict you, but orders every thing for your greatest good, even to humble you the more deeply, and thereby to prepare you for a richer improvement of his mercy whensoever it shall be vouchsafed unto you. It honours also his power, as able to impart relief, whensoever his wisdom and goodness shall judge it expedient to confer the blessing. Above all, it glorifies God’s truth and faithfulness, in that it makes the written word a ground of hope, yea, and of an assured hope, that whatsoever God has promised he will perform.

I ask then, Is it not desirable that you should be found in a posture by which God is so honoured, and with which he cannot but be pleased? Let every one of you, therefore, be able to make that appeal to God, “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord [Note: Genesis 49:18.].”]

3. What benefit it ensures to the waiting soul—

[Justly is it said, “The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord [Note: Lamentations 3:25-26.].” But let us hear the Psalmist’s own experience: “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined unto me and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings: and he hath put a new song into my mouth, even praise unto our God [Note: Psalms 40:1-3.].” And who is there, even though he should not have been delivered to the same extent, that must not yet say, “It is good for me to draw near to God [Note: Psalms 73:28.]?” I entreat you, then, to adopt the resolution of the Psalmist, “I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints [Note: Psalms 52:9.].” If at any time your mind be disquieted by reason of delay, check and chide your soul even as David did: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God [Note: Psalms 42:11.].” You must never forget that appeal which God himself makes to the whole universe, “I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain [Note: Isaiah 45:19.].” Even in this world you may be sure that God will accept and bless you: for he has said, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint [Note: Isaiah 40:31.].” But in the world to come, can any one doubt the acceptance of a penitent, contrite, and believing soul? You might as well doubt the existence of God himself: for he has said, that “we shall reap if we faint not [Note: Galatians 6:9.]:” and to all his believing Israel he has engaged, that “they shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, and shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end [Note: Isaiah 45:17.].”]


Verse 7-8

DISCOURSE: 724

THE DUTY OF HOPING IN GOD

Psalms 130:7-8. Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

THAT advice which flows from experience is at all times most worthy of our attention. In this view the words of our text claim peculiar regard. David, in the psalm before us, records a very signal deliverance which he had recently experienced, probably from an overwhelming sense of his own guilt and corruption: and, having informed us what methods he had used to obtain deliverance, and how effectual they had proved for his restoration to happiness, he recommends the adoption of them to all the people of God under all difficulties whatsoever; and assures them, that they shall not in any instance fail of success: “Let Israel,” &c.

He sets before us,

I. Our duty—

Hope in God, as men generally use the term, is nothing more than an unfounded expectation that God will save us, whatever be our state, and whatever be our conduct. But a scriptural hope implies a suitable regard to the things we hope for, and to him in whom our hope is placed. It implies,

1. That we pray to him with fervour—

[This was united with the Psalmist’s hope [Note: ver. 1, 2.]: and it must also be with ours [Note: Matthew 7:7-8.]. To pretend to hope in God while we neglect to spread our wants before him, is the grossest hypocrisy, and the most fatal delusion [Note: Ezekiel 36:37.].]

2. That we wait for him with patience—

[It was in this manner that David exercised his hope [Note: ver. 5, 6.]. Nor can we act otherwise, if we be sincere in our profession [Note: Romans 8:25.]. To be impatient, is an unequivocal mark of unbelief, and despondency [Note: Isaiah 28:16. 1 Samuel 13:11-12.]. But to wait patiently the Lord’s leisure, is the office and evidence of faith and hope [Note: Habakkuk 2:3.].]

3. That we depend on him with steadfastness—

[The promises of God to those who seek him, must be the ground of our hope [Note: ver. 5.]. We are not to regard difficulties of any kind, as though they could prove any obstacle to God. However circumstances, both within and without, may seem to justify despair, we must “hope beyond and against hope [Note: παρʼ ἐλπίδα, Romans 4:18. Job 13:15. Isaiah 1:10.],” assured that, as nothing is impossible with God, so not one jot or tittle of his word shall ever fail.]

This duty being of infinite importance, and of universal obligation, let us consider,

II. Our encouragement to perform it—

If we look inward, we shall find nothing but discouragement. But if, with David, we look to God, we may find abundant encouragement,

1. In his attributes—

[While justice bears a frowning aspect, mercy smiles on the repenting sinner. God has opened a way for the exercise of his mercy in perfect consistency with the demands of justice; and to exercise it is his delight [Note: Micah 7:18.]. This attribute is as essential to his nature as wisdom, or power, or any other [Note: Exodus 34:6-7.]. Nor needs he to have it excited by a view of our misery (much less by any meritorious services of ours;) it is ever “with him:” and is ready to manifest itself towards all those who call upon him. [Note: Romans 10:12.]]

2. In his works—

[“Redemption” is the crown of all his works: and this also is with him, that he may impart it to those who groan under their sore bondage. Yea, with him is “plenteous” redemption: he himself, as our near kinsman, (bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh [Note: Ephesians 5:30.]) has the right of redemption vested in him [Note: Leviticus 25:25; Leviticus 25:47-49.]: and, having ability to pay the price, he will discharge our debt, and restore us, not only to liberty, but also to the inheritance which we have so basely alienated.]

3. In his word—

[The declaration of his determined purpose by an inspired writer, it equivalent to an express promise. And, if the extent and certainty of this promise be considered, what an encouragement will it afford us to hope in God! There is no limitation whatever to the promise, provided, like “Israel” of old, we wrestle with God for the performance of it [Note: Genesis 32:24-28.]. However numerous and inveterate our iniquities may be, they shall “all” be pardoned, and “all” subdued [Note: Isaiah 1:18.].]

Application—

1. To prevent any abuse of this subject, we shall guard it—

[The repetition of the name “Israel” distinctly marks the characters to whom the text is more immediately to be applied. It is the praying, waiting, and depending sinner that is exhorted to hope in God: and it is he alone who can expect redemption at the hands of God. Let such therefore see their duty and their privilege: but let those who live in the habitual neglect of God Know, that their “hope is as a spider’s web, that shall soon be swept away with the besom of destruction [Note: Job 8:13-14.].”]

2. To impress the subject more deeply on our minds, we shall enforce it

[The advice here given is the most suitable that can be given, and if followed, will be productive of the greatest happiness. Were any of us directed to indulge a hope from our own endeavours, we should soon perceive the folly of such advice. Every day and hour would bring us fresh occasion for despair. But in God there is nothing wanting: he has the right, the power, and the will to redeem us. Nor, if we trust in him, shall we ever be confounded [Note: Isaiah 45:17.].

Let us therefore not limit either the mercy or power of our God; but putting away all self-rightcous hopes [Note: Philippians 3:3.], or unbelieving fears [Note: Psalms 42:11.], let us repose an unlimited confidence in our merciful and faithful Redeemer.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 130:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/psalms-130.html. 1832.

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