Psalm 130 (ESV)1Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! 2O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

3If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? 4But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.

5I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

7O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. 8And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

To be human is to be in trouble. Man and woman, alone in creation, suffer. For suffering is pain plus: physical or emotional pain plus the awareness that our own worth as people is threatened, that our own value as creatures made in the dignity of God is called into question, that our own destiny as eternal souls is jeopardized. A Christian is a person who decides to face and live through suffering. Psalm 130 grapples mightily with suffering, sings its way through it, and provides usable experience for those who are committed to traveling the way of faith to God through Jesus Christ.

Giving Dignity to Suffering: By setting the anguish out in the open and voicing it as a prayer, the psalm gives a dignity to our suffering. We should set suffering squarely, openly, and passionately before God. The Gospels offer this view of suffering: in suffering we enter the depths; we are at the heart of things; we are near to where Christ was on the cross. Psalm 130 focuses on immersing suffering in God as all the suffering is spoken in the form of prayer, which means that God is taken seriously as a personal and concerned Father.

Employed to Wait: Such are the two great realities of Psalm 130: suffering is real; God is real. We will cry from the depths and our cry will be heard. Suffering is a mark of our existential authenticity; God is proof of our essential and eternal humanity. We are to wait and watch, and through this will find hope. This means going about our assigned task of suffering with the knowledge that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions.

An Eye Specialist and a Painter: When we suffer we attract counselors as money attracts thieves. Everybody has an idea of what we did wrong to get into this situation and also how to get out. But what we truly need is hope; hope from God. We need to know that suffering is part of what it means to be human and not something alien. We need to know where we are and where God is. We need to know that God understand and cares about our suffering.

Psalm 130 is essential equipment, for it convinces us that the big difference is not in what people suffer but in the way they suffer. This psalm is a powerful demonstration that our place in the depths is not out of bounds from God. This Psalm shows us that our hope comes not from our holiness, our performance, or our abilities, but is grounded in God’s steadfast love, in His plentiful redemption, in His sanctifying work. Cry out from your depths. Cry out to the LORD who hears. Cry out knowing He hears not because your sinless but because He forgives. Cry out and wait for His redemption not for worldly council. Cry out and wait in hope “For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.”

(This post is a summary and partial abridgement of Eugene Peterson’s book “A Long Obedience In The Same Direction.” It is based solely on Peterson’s work and any help that this content gives should be credited to God’s grace through Peterson’s effort. In other words, give God glory, thank Eugene Peterson and consider buying the book.)