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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Psalms 130



Verses 1-8

I will first read the Psalm through, and afterwards say a few words by way of exposition.

Psalms 130:1-8. 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. 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. 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.

You notice that this is one of the Songs of Degrees; that is, Psalms ascending by steps, and it begins at the very bottom: “Out of the depths.” But it gradually climbs up to the heights: “He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” May your experience and mine, beloved, be like a ladder, —upward, always upward, step by step, ever rising, and getting nearer to our God!

The Psalm begins very low: “Out of the depths.” The psalmist is in the depths of sorrow and conscious sin, the depths of weakness, the depths of doubt and fear; yet, though he is in those depths, he does not leave off praying: “Out of the depths have I cried.” Some of the best prayers that were ever prayed have been offered in the depths. There are some men who never prayed at all until they came into the depths of sorrow, and those sorrows pressed their prayers out of them. The psalmist’s prayer was a cry. That is a child’s prayer; it cries to its mother or its father: “Out of the depths have I cried.” But it was not like a child’s cries sometimes are, — cries to itself, or cries to nobody: “Out of the depths have I cried unto THEE, O Jehovah.” That is the right kind of prayer which is directed to God as an arrow is aimed at the target.

In looking back over his past experience, the psalmist tells the Lord that he has prayed. Sometimes, it is a good thing to pray over your prayers. “I have prayed, Lord; now I present one more petition, ‘I pray thee to remember that I have prayed. I pray thee to hear me. Lord, hear my voice.’” What is the good of prayer if God does not hear it? Sometimes we ask God to answer our supplication. That is right, but, at the same time, remember that it may be a greater blessing for God to hear our prayers than to answer them; for if he were to make it an absolute rule that he would grant all our requests, it might be a curse rather than a blessing. At any rate, I should feel it a very dreadful responsibility to have cast upon me; for then, after all, I should have to depend upon my own prayers, and therefore have to order my own way. But when I read that God will hear my prayer, that is much better, for he can do as he likes about answering it; and if I pray an improper prayer, what is better for me than for God to hear it, and then to set it on one side? And, often, mine are such poor feeble prayers that it is much better for me that he should hear them, and then do for me exceeding abundantly above what I have asked or thought. I used to think that we ought to say that he is a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God; but I do not say that now. It is enough that he hears, enough that you have presented your petition, and that God has heard it. “Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.” That is, “Lord, consider my prayer; have respect unto it.

Answer it according to thy wise consideration of it; ‘let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.’” Our prayers must usually be supplications; that is the word for a beggar’s pleading when he supplicates and asks for favors. That is what we do when we plead with God; and even if we do not speak, yet there is a voice in our supplications. In the sixth Psalm, David speaks of the voice of his weeping; and there is often a voice in that sorrow which cannot find a voice. God hears the grief that cannot itself speak to him: “Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.”

And now, having put up his petition, notice his confession: “If thou, Jehovah, shouldest mark iniquities, O Adonai, who shall stand?” So it should run. If God were to sit like a judge taking notes of the evidence, and putting down against his people all their errors, who would be able to stand in that court? We should all be condemned. Then, does not God mark iniquities? Yes, he does in one sense, but not in another; and, through his infinite love and mercy, he does not deal with us after our sins, nor reward us according to our iniquities. “If he did,” David seems to say, “I could not stand.” But he says more, “Who shall stand?” Whatever pretensions to perfection any persons may make, they are false. There is no man who can stand in God’s sight when he comes to mark our iniquities; and if we are taught of God’s Spirit, we shall know it to be so. In fact, the more holy a man becomes, the more conscious he is of unholiness.

“But” — and what a blessed “but” this is! — one of the most blessed “buts” in the Word of God: “But there is forgiveness with thee;” or, “There is a propitiation with thee.” There is a readiness to deal with men, not according to their just deserts, but according to free grace and the infinite mercy of God. “There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” Is not that a very strange expression? One would have thought that it would have said, “There is judgment with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” But no, brethren, if there were judgment with God, and no forgiveness, then men would grow despairing, and they would be hardened and rebellious; or else all would be swept away in God’s wrath, and there would be nobody left to fear him. It is mercy that softens the heart, it is the forgiveness of God that leads men to love him and to fear him. The true fear of God — the holy filial fear — never rises out of judgment, but springs out of forgiving love. I hope, beloved, you feel that, because you are forgiven, you fear to offend God; because of so much love, you fear to grieve the blessed Spirit of God.

“I wait for Jehovah, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for Adonai,” — the King, the Sovereign Lord, — “more than they that watch for the morning, they that watch for the morning.” Our translators put in the words, “I say more than,” — I suppose, to make the sense more clear; but, by doing so, they spoiled the beautiful poetic simplicity of the original. “Let Israel hope in the Lord.” Until this verse, the psalmist has been talking about himself; now he speaks about all the people of God. True religion is expansive; as your own heart gets warmed, you begin to call others in to share your felicity. “Let Israel hope in the Lord.” Did not their father Jacob do so? When all night he wrestled at the brook Jabbok, he hoped in the Lord, and so he gained his name Israel, and went away triumphant because he hoped in Jehovah.

“For with Jehovah there is mercy.” Believe that, O seeking sinner! “With Jehovah there is mercy.” Believe this, O backslider! “With Jehovah there is mercy.” Believe this, downcast child of God; “and with him is plenteous redemption.” There is enough for you, and there is enough for all who come to him. There is not a slave of sin whom God cannot redeem, for “with him is plenteous redemption.”

“And he shall redeem.” There is the comfort of it; he not only has the redemption, but he will make use of it. “He shall redeem Israel” — the whole of his Israel, all his people — “He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” Oh, come to him, then, with all your iniquities, and pray to be redeemed from them; and as surely as Jehovah lives, he will fulfill this promise, and redeem you from all your iniquities.


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 130:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

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