Friday, June 4, 2010

Out of the Depths / Into Redemption - Psalm 130

"Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O LORD.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
If Thou, LORD, shouldst mark iniquities, O LORD,
who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with Thee,
that Thou mayest be feared.
I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait,
and in His word do I hope.
My soul waits for the LORD
more than the wathcmen for the morning;
indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD;
for with the LORD there is lovingkindness,
and with Him is abundant redemption.
And He will redeem Israel from all iniquities."
(Psalm 130)

I must admit that this psalm made this sinner smile this morning. It is a psalm that resonates as real in my life. It has been my prayer. It has been my lot. It has been my hope. It is my certainty.

For 13 months I have cried out of the depths for God to hear my voice. He has often appeared silent. More often than that I have often appeared stubbornly deaf! Over the course of the past 2 weeks He has seen fit to pull me out of the depths and to put me radically back into the arms of redeeming grace. I am overwhelmed at His mercies to me. This psalm, in so many ways, is a mirror of my recent days.

In these eight verses we see the cry of the afflicted, the reality of their sin, the promise of forgiveness to the repentant, the need for patient perseverance while in the trial, the rule of God's word as our guide in the darkness, the lovingkind character of our God even when all would say it is not so, and the declared fact of abundant redemption - that is ultimately ours in Christ. Wow! There is much here.

First, the psalmist is in deep waters. "Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O LORD." He is surrounded and sinking. "The best men may sometimes be in the depths, in great trouble and affliction" (Henry).

Second, in these deep waters he cries out to His God. "Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice! Let Thine ear be attentive to the voice of my supplications." Sinking times must be praying times!!

"In the greatest depths, it is our privilege that we may cry unto God and be heard. To cry out to God is the likeliest way both to prevent our sinking lower and to recover us out of the pit." (Henry)
Are we overwhelmed by deep waters? Let us, with the psalm writer, cry out to the Lord!

Third, let us always recognize our sinfulness. "If Thou, LORD, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?" Folks, friends, fellow failers... do we have any idea just how wretched we are left to ourselves? There is NOTHING good in us - save Christ. All of our most righteous deeds are but filthy rags - the MOST righteous ones - and if God were to treat us as our sins deserve we would be decimated in the dust. But...

Fourth, let us always remember the mercies of our God. "But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared."

Summing up these two points Mr. Henry writes:

"We cannot justify ourselves before God or plead 'not guilty.' If God were to deal with us in strict justice, we would be undone. It is of His mercy that we are not consumed by His wrath. It is our unspeakable comfort, in approaches to God, that there is forgiveness with Him,for that is what we need."
How marvelously true. I read these words and my heart both weeps and leaps. My sin is obvious to me. It is ever before me. The battle with it is real. Equally true - no, more powerfully true - is the mercy of my Master towards me. The Holy One has looked upon me and has lavished me with lovingkindness. He has seen my sin. He has sent my Savior. He has forgiven me and I am now enabled to stand, clothed in Christ's righteousness. Ain't it grand?!?! Ain't it gloriously grand?!?!?!

Fifth, we must wait upon the Lord. "I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait." Sinking times should be praying times and praying times are often waiting times. Patience is a virture that is most frequently developed in the school of affliction. Sanctification is not a microwave meal. There is no "easy" button. There is no quick fix. There is the long haul -therefore, wait upon the Lord.

Henry writes:
"I wait for the Lord; from Him I expect relief and comfort, believing it will come, longing till it does come, but patiently bearing the delay of it, and resolving to look for it from no other hand."
Sixth, we must fix upon His word. "And in His word do I hope." His word is the lamp unto our feet and the light unto our path that will guide us through the murky darkness. It alone is our rule of faith and life and upon that firm foundation we must build our house of hope.

"We must hope for that only which He has promised in His word, and not for the creatures of our own fancy and imagination." (Henry)

Seventh, we must watch while we wait and we must watch with expectance! "My soul waits for the LORD, more than the watchmen for the morning; indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning." When in the depths we often watch out for the waves more than for the Maker of them. Peter walked on the water as long as His eyes were on Christ. He sunk when he stopped watching. How true it is of us as well. We need to watch for our Helper. He will come - right on time - and pull us from the dark and dank depths.

I love the comparison with those who watch for the morning. Morning dawns. We know it is coming. Even so - honestly, more so - the morning of our redemption from the pit is coming. This picture presses us to be confident in the coming of our conquering Captain.

The psalmist is in essence saying:

"Well-assured that the morning will come; so am I that God will return in mercy to me, for God's covenant is more firm than the ordinances of day and night, for they shall come to an end, but the covenant is everlasting!" (Henry)

Eighth, our hope will not be disappointed. "O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is lovingkindness, and with Him there is abundant redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities."

What more can be said than is said in these verses?
Are you in deep waters? Pray! Cry out to the One who can hear you over the crashing waves and the howling winds. Cry out to Him recognizing your sins and the just consequences for them. Cry out to Him knowing that He is a merciful and forgiving God who longs to lavish His lovingkindness upon us. Wait as you cry - wait on His timing and not your own. Wait in the Word - let it be chart to keep you from being lost on the stormy sea. Wait with expectancy KNOWING that morning will dawn at exactly the right moment. Wait - for your conquering King is coming in abundant redemption. What more could we ask for?

After 13 months of drowning in the sea of forgetfulness. After a little over a year of hanging on to hope by a thread - a tattered and torn thread - I have seen the abundant redemption of the LORD poured out upon me - a sinner who cannot stand on her own. But - He has made me stand. He is making me to walk on the water with Him - the very water that pulled me under on my own.

Watch and pray, my friends. Watch and pray - redemption will raise you from the depths!

In His glorious grace,

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