Tom Lowe


Psalm 130

 Title: Out of the Depths I Cried to You

  1. {A Song of degrees.} Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.
  2. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
  3. If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
  4. But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
  5. I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
  6. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
  7. Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
  8. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.




In this psalm Hezekiah pours out his heart to God. His confession of sin is both personal and public, that is, he assumes the role of a true mediator, taking on himself the sins of his people and pouring them out before the Lord as though they were his own.

The world does not know many such individuals. It is a serious thing for the world when no one is concerned enough about national sins to cry out to God for the poor lost lands of the earth. The world will never know what it owes to the presence amid a few godly intercessors who pour out their souls before God for the land in which they live.

Psalm 130 is the fervent prayer of a person who knows his great need of Yahweh, and who acknowledges before his fellow worshippers (vv. 7-8) both that need and his hope for an answer to it.


Commentary: Psalms 130:1-8 (KJV)

1. {A Song of degrees.} Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.

The psalmist appears to be in the depths of despair, but he tells us very little about the nature of his despair. Like Jonah in the belly of the whale, he had reached rock bottom. Waves of despair break over his soul like breakers that attack the seashore. “Out of the depths” is a description of deep waters that so often describe the distress and danger of the soul. In the depths one can only look up. When like Peter we lose our foothold, and begin to sink─ then, indeed, we may cry out to the Lord (either as “Jehovah,” “Jah,” or “Adonai”). The soul, when it’s in trouble loves to repeat to itself again and again that precious name in which all help and comfort are enshrined.

If the psalmist was Hezekiah, which seems likely, we do not have to look far for the source of his anxiety. We see a close correlation between the words in this psalm and the “writings of Hezekiah, king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered from his sickness” (Isa. 38:9). Even though he had recovered, he was still haunted by his circumstances. There is no question about what has brought him to the depths; it is his own stubbornness.

There was, for example, the problem of barrenness, of either himself or his wife. He had no son to carry on his name. Worse, he had no son to carry on the royal Davidic line. Even after the prophet had given him the sign of the sundial, the sign that doubtless inspired the writing and collecting of these “Songs of Degrees,” no son was born. There were three long years of that “hope deferred” which “maketh the heart sick” before a son was born to the king.

There was the problem of battlefields; he was surrounded by the tumult and noise of battle. Assyria was on the march, and that was enough to cause anyone to despair. Nineveh had been a potential world threat for centuries, but now, armed to the teeth, aggressive, untamable, it was on the march. It had one supreme ambition: to rule the world. Out of the north it had come, an Old Testament Soviet Union, bent on conquering the Middle East. It saw the little Hebrew nation as an obstinate and annoying hindrance to its plans. Samaria had been besieged and by this time, perhaps, had been conquered and taken. Hezekiah wavered; his foreign policy uncertain. He had tried appeasement, but it did not work. Babylon beckoned with vague promises of an alliance, and Egypt encouraged him to take a firm stand, but Isaiah told him not to thrust either of them. There was no help either in the far east or in the west. Hezekiah was surrounded by battlefields. And they were coming closer.

All the horrors of conflict and carnage, siege and slaughter, loomed ahead─ either that, or surrender on unthinkable terms of deportation and the seeming dissolution of the Old Testament kingdom of God.

There was another problem too; the problem of behavior. Apostasy had ruled the land for years. Apostasy had brought the northern kingdom of Israel to a terrible end in blood, fire, and ruthless deportation. Judah was just as bad. Hezekiah’s own

father, a weak and wicked king, had brought Judah to an all-time low of idolatry and apostasy. Hezekiah’s religious reforms, great and zealous as they were, had produced only a surface restoration. The nation’s heart had remained untouched. The worst vices had been curbed, the law had been enforced, national religion had been revived, but the hearts of the people and prince alike remained untouched. It was politic and conciliate the king in these things, but, within a few years of Hezekiah’s death, the vile things he sternly repressed would flourish again. The son he longed for would serve longer than any other Judean king, but would be the worse king ever to disgrace the throne of David. The nation would never recover from Manasseh’s disastrous rule. In the end the Assyrian threat would be replaced by the Babylonian. “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD,” sobs the psalmist. If you cannot pray, cry.

2. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.

In his despair the psalmist turned to God. “Lord,” he says, “hear my voice.” He did what here and there a noble soul does in every generation; he became a mediator. He stepped into the gap. The Lord would not hear the majority who were married to their sins but perhaps He would hear him.

Israel could not have found a better intercessor. In later years, the rabbis made much of Hezekiah and spoke of him with great reverence. Of course, Hezekiah was no messiah, but he was certainly a mediator. He pleaded with God as Moses had done. It is not only an anxious plea; it is one which emphasizes the distance to which the psalmist has brought himself from Yahweh.

Here are some of Hezekiah’s accomplishments:

  • He repaired and opened the doors of the temple.
  • He assembled the priests and Levites and charged them with cleaning up the temple.
  • He restored the temple worship.
  • He reinstated the long-neglected sacrifices.
  • He reorganized the choir.
  • He convened a great Passover celebration.
  • He sent invitations to all Judah and to the remnant of Israel in the north, ordering all to join in a great national celebration of worship.
  • He destroyed all altars to false Gods throughout the country.
  • He reorganized the priesthood.
  • He revived the law for setting aside tithes and offerings for the Lord’s servants.

Although the king was a godly man, one of the best of men, he was still terribly conscious of his own shortcomings and sins. The burden of his prayers was sin, Israel’s sin, and his own sin.

3. If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

How many sins make a person a sinner? Just one. James said that if we keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, we are guilty of all. What hope do we have if the Lord were to mark every single sin and call us to account for every piece of misbehavior? Our condition would be beyond hope.

If the Lord kept a record of iniquities without blotting them out in His forgiveness and mercy, who indeed would be able to stand? But God is a forgiving God to be served with reverent awe. In this psalm there is no idea advanced that says, “there is perpetual forgiveness for perpetual sinning. God’s forgiveness is given so that those who receive it may reverence and serve Him.

The problem even with confessing sin, is that we do not remember all our sins. Our hearts are corrupted, our minds confused. We are indulgent of our sins. We do not understand at times what constitutes sin. There is no way we can possibly confess all our sins. But God can mark them. Hezekiah prayed that God would not do that. Who could stand if He did? “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of that wisdom which turns away from foolishness and sin and dedicates itself to obediently walking in His ways.

When the poet says “mark iniquities” he means observe them accurately, and punish them severely, as they deserve. No man can acquit himself or escape the sentence of condemnation because all men are sinners.


4. But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

The psalmist speaks to God’s heart when he says, “Thou art able and ready to forgive sinners who repent.” And then he speaks of the “fear of the Lord.” God chose to forgive the sins of his people, which is an astounding fact. The response, then, should be reverential fear of God─ not cowering in panic or horror but willfully submitting to Him in worship and obedience.

The “fear of the Lord,” in the Old Testament, was not slavish (unquestioning) fear, but reverential awe and trust; it included the hatred of evil. Praise God, He does forgive sin. Sin must be forgiven at the point of guilt. If a man sins against his wife, he must make it right with his wife; if he sins against his neighbor, he must put things right with his neighbor. It is no use for a man to ask his wife to forgive him for something he did wrong to someone at work. Above all, sin must be confessed to God since all sin is also against Him.

This was the essence of dealing with sin and the removal of guilt under the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. Sin had to be dealt with at its point of guilt. The sin offering dealt with the principle of sin─ I am not a sinner because I sin; I sin because I am a sinner. I do what I do because I am what I am. The trespass offering dealt with the practice of sin. It entailed first putting things right with the one who had been injured, then coming and putting things right with God.

When the Holy Spirit does His gracious work of conviction in our hearts, and when He ministers forgiveness to us, He plants in our hearts a reverential awe. It has cost God so very much to forgive. Calvary is the price. So, God plants in the penitent’s heart a deep disgust at sin itself─ something no human priest can do. Sin should frighten us. The sinner is afraid God will punish him; the saint is afraid he might sin again.

5. I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

6. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

While awaiting full restoration to a faithful relationship with God, the psalmist remains hopeful and watchful. Like a night watchman longing for daylight, he waits. The new day will bring both light and the regular morning offerings to God, so the writer yearns for his spiritual darkness to come to an end.

There is nothing else to do but wait. God is never in a hurry. The work He wants to do in our hearts takes time. We want things hurried up; God is working for eternity and takes whatever time He needs to bring our souls in line with His will. God keeps telling us He has not forgotten us; He hears us. If we are watching out for Him, He is watching out for us.

Like a lover awaiting the arrival of his beloved, so the psalmist waited for the Lord. Deliverance? Yes, he wanted that, but much more than that he wanted the Lord.

Certainly, we want the Lord to act in our situations. We would be less than human if we didn’t. But do we want Him most of all, more than anything?


7. Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.

The nation of Israel was founded on the principle of redemption. God redeemed Israel from bondage in Egypt. The Passover was intended to commemorate that fact and keep it annually before the conscience of the nation. With the Assyrians threatening disaster from the north it was imperative that Israel keep focused on the Lord. The northern kingdom had perished from trusting in idols.

In God there is something more than forgiveness─ there is deliverance. He does not remember our sins; or he redeems us from their tyranny and consequences. He does this plenteously, “with good measure, pressed down, and running over.” If He has made, He can and will redeem.

It is so true for us today. However rich is their spiritual heritage, nations cannot survive without spiritual renewal.

The expression “plenteous redemption” {Redemption that is abundantly sufficient for all persons who shall accept it on God’s terms, and for the remission of all sins] reminds God’s people that He has a thousand ways to provide salvation for those who put their trust in Him. His patience and mercy had not been exhausted by the nations long and persistent rebellion. Confession and contrition would soon open the floodgates of His lovingkindness.


8. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

In the Hebrew, verse 8 reads. “It is He Himself who will redeem.” Jehovah Himself will provide the ransom. Again, the psalmist puts his finger unerringly on the sore spot, the source of all the nation’s woes. Its iniquities were the reason for all its dangers.

Here the psalmist lifts the psalm out of its historical setting and puts it down in the tribulation age. Its prophetic overtones are too obvious to be overlooked. The psalm anticipates Israel’s perils during the great tribulation and the earnest waiting of thee instructed Jews for the coming of the Messiah. Indeed, beginning with the setting up of the beast’s idol in the temple, and the consequent persecution, the godly will be able to begin a countdown. They will know that the coming of Christ to reign will take place in exactly 1,260 days. They will be able to mark off the days on their calendars. What a comfort that will be in those terrible times.

The sudden appearing of the Lord in the sky will be the turning point for Israel. “He shall redeem Israel from all its iniquities.” “They will look on Him whom they have pierced.” The nation will be born in a day, born from above, redeemed at last. May God speed the day along.


How are Jews saved?

The grace that saves us as Gentiles will save the nation of Israel also. The day is coming when Israel’s cry out of the depths will be answered. Christ will return unto Zion and will turn away ungodliness from Jacob: “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes” (Rom. 11:26-28). During the Great Tribulation they will wait for the Lord to deliver them more than the watchers for the morning. You and I also are to wait for the rising of the Bright and Morning Star, the Lord Jesus Christ, when He comes for His own.