Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
TITLE. A Song of Degrees. It would be hard to see
any upward step from the preceding to the present Psalm, and therefore it is
possible that the steps or ascents are in the song itself: certainly it does
rise rapidly out of the depths of anguish to the heights of assurance. It
follows well upon 129: when we have overcome the trials which arise from man we
are the better prepared to meet those sharper sorrows which arise out of our
matters towards God. He who has borne the scourges of the wicked is trained in
all patience to wait the dealings of the Holy Lord. We name this the DE
PROFUNDIS PSALM: "Out of the depths" is the leading word of it: out of those
depths we cry, wait, watch, and hope. In this Psalm we hear of the pearl of
redemption, Ps 130:7-8: perhaps the sweet singer would never have found that
precious thing had he not been cast into the depths. "Pearls lie deep."
DIVISION. The first two verses (Ps 130:1-2) reveal an
intense desire; and the next two are a humble confession of repentance and
faith, Ps 130:3-4. In Ps 130:5-6 waiting watchfulness is declared and resolved
upon; and in Ps 130:7-8 joyful expectation, both for himself and all Israel,
Verse 1. Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.
This is the Psalmist's statement and plea: he had never ceased to pray even when
brought into the lowest state. The depths usually silence all they engulf, but
they could not close the mouth of this servant of the Lord; on the contrary, it
was in the abyss itself that he cried unto Jehovah. Beneath the floods prayer
lived and struggled; yea, above the roar of the billows rose the cry of faith.
It little matters where we are if we can pray; but prayer is never more real and
acceptable than when it rises out of the worst places. Deep places beget deep
devotion. Depths of earnestness are stirred by depths of tribulation. Diamonds
sparkle most amid the darkness. Prayer de profundis gives to God
gloria in excelsis. The more distressed we are, the more excellent is the
faith which trusts bravely in the Lord, and therefore appeals to him, and to him
alone. Good men may be in the depths of temporal and spiritual trouble; but good
men in such cases look only to their God, and they stir themselves up to be more
instant and earnest in prayer than at other times. The depth of their distress
moves the depths of their being; and from the bottom of their hearts an
exceeding great and bitter cry rises unto the one living and true God. David had
often been in the deep, and as often had he pleaded with Jehovah, his God, in
whose hand are all deep places. He prayed, and remembered that he had prayed,
and pleaded that he had prayed; hoping ere long to receive an answer. It would
be dreadful to look back on trouble and feel forced to own that we did not cry
unto the Lord in it; but it is most comforting to know that whatever we did not
do, or could not do, yet we did pray, even in our worst times. He that prays in
the depth will not sink out of his depth. He that cries out of the depths shall
soon sing in the heights.
Verse 2. Lord, hear my voice. It is all we ask; but nothing
less will content us. If the Lord will but hear us we will leave it to his
superior wisdom to decide whether he will answer us or no. It is better for our
prayer to be heard than answered. If the Lord were to make an absolute promise
to answer all our requests it might be rather a curse than a blessing, for it
would be casting the responsibility of our lives upon ourselves, and we should
be placed in a very anxious position: but now the Lord hears our desires, and
that is enough; we only wish him to grant them if his infinite wisdom sees that
it would be for our good and for his glory. Note that the Psalmist spoke audibly
in prayer: this is not at all needful, but it is exceedingly helpful; for the
use of the voice assists the thoughts. Still, there is a voice in silent
supplication, a voice in our weeping, a voice in that sorrow which cannot find a
tongue: that voice the Lord will hear if its cry is meant for his ear. Let
thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication. The
Psalmist's cry is a beggar's petition; he begs the great King and Lord to lend
an ear to it. He has supplicated many times, but always with one voice, or for
one purpose; and he begs to be noticed in the one matter which he has pressed
with so much importunity. He would have the King hearken, consider, remember,
and weigh his request. He is confused, and his prayer may therefore be broken,
and difficult to understand; he begs therefore that his Lord will give the more
earnest and compassionate heed to the voice of his many and painful pleadings.
When we have already prayed over our troubles it is well to pray over our
prayers. If we can find no more words, let us entreat the Lord to hear those
petitions which we have already presented. If we have faithfully obeyed the
precept by praying without ceasing, we may be confident that the Lord will
faithfully fulfil the promise by helping us without fall. Though the Psalmist
was under a painful sense of sin, and so was in the depth, his faith pleaded in
the teeth of conscious unworthiness; for well he knew that the Lord's keeping
his promise depends upon his own character and not upon that of his erring
Verse 3. If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who
shall stand. If JAH, the all seeing, should in strict justice call
every man to account for every want of conformity to righteousness, where would
any one of us be? Truly, he does record all our transgressions; but as yet he
does not act upon the record, but lays it aside till another day. If men were to
be judged upon no system but that of works, who among us could answer for
himself at the Lord's bar, and hope to stand clear and accepted? This verse
shows that the Psalmist was Under a sense of sin, and felt it imperative upon
him not only to cry as a suppliant but to confess as a sinner. Here he owns that
he cannot stand before the great King in his own righteousness, and he is so
struck with a sense of the holiness of God, and the rectitude of the law that he
is convinced that no man of mortal race can answer for himself before a Judge so
perfect, concerning a law so divine. Well does he cry, "O Lord, who shall
stand?" None can do so: there is none that doeth good; no, not one. Iniquities
are matters which are not according to equity: what a multitude we have of
these! Jehovah, who sees all, and is also our Adonai, or Lord, will
assuredly bring us into judgment concerning those thoughts, and words, and works
which are not in exact conformity to his law. Were it not for the Lord Jesus,
could we hope to stand? Dare we meet him in the dread day of account on the
footing of law and equity? What a mercy it is that we need not do so, for the
next verse sets forth another way of acceptance to which we flee.
Verse 4. But there is forgiveness with thee. Blessed but.
Free, full, sovereign pardon is in the hand of the great King: it is his
prerogative to forgive, and he delights to exercise it. Because his nature is
mercy, and because he has provided a sacrifice for sin, therefore forgiveness is
with him for all that come to him confessing their sins. The power of pardon is
permanently resident with God: he has forgiveness ready to his hand at this
instant. "That thou mayest be feared." This is the fruitful root of piety. None
fear the Lord like those who have experienced his forgiving love. Gratitude for
pardon produces far more fear and reverence of God than all the dread which is
inspired by punishment. If the Lord were to execute justice upon all, there
would be none left to fear him; if all were under apprehension of his deserved
wrath, despair would harden them against fearing him: it is grace which leads
the way to a holy regard of God, and a fear of grieving him.
Verse 5. I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait. Expecting
him to come to me in love, I quietly wait for his appearing; I wait upon
him in service, and for him in faith. For God I wait and for him only: if
he will manifest himself I shall have nothing more to wait for; but until he
shall appear for my help I must wait on, hoping even in the depths. This waiting
of mine is no mere formal act, my very soul is in it, --"my soul doth wait." I
wait and I wait--mark the repetition! "My soul waits", and then again, "My soul
waits"; to make sure work of the waiting. It is well to deal with the Lord
intensely. Such repetitions are the reverse of vain repetitions. If the Lord
Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all
they that wait for him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is
beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and
endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord's people have always been a waiting
people: they waited for the First Advent, and now they wait for the Second. They
waited for a sense of pardon, and now they wait for perfect sanctification. They
waited in the depths, and they are not now wearied with waiting in a happier
condition. They have cried and they do wait; probably their past prayer sustains
their present patience. And in his word do I hope. This is the source, strength,
and sweetness of waiting. Those who do not hope cannot wait; but if we hope for
that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. God's word is a true
word, but at times it tarries; if ours is true faith it will wait the Lord's
time. A word from the Lord is as bread to the soul of the believer; and,
refreshed thereby, it holds out through the night of sorrow expecting the dawn
of deliverance and delight. Waiting, we study the word, believe the word, hope
in the word, and live on the word; and all because it is "his word, "--the
word of him who never speaks in vain. Jehovah's word is a firm ground for a
waiting soul to rest upon.
Verse 6. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch
for the morning. Men who guard a city, and women who wait by the
sick, long for daylight. Worshippers tarrying for the morning sacrifice, the
kindling of the incense and the lighting of the lamps, mingle fervent prayers
with their holy vigils, and pine for the hour when the lamb shall smoke upon the
altar. David, however, waited more than these, waited longer, waited more
longingly, waited more expectantly. He was not afraid of the great Adonai before
whom none can stand in their own righteousness, for he had put on the
righteousness of faith, and therefore longed for gracious audience with the Holy
One. God was no more dreaded by him than light is dreaded by those engaged in a
lawful calling. He pined and yearned after his God. I say, more than
they that watch for the morning. The figure was not strong enough, though
one can hardly think of anything more vigorous: he felt that his own eagerness
was unique and unrivalled. Oh to be thus hungry and thirsty after God! Our
version spoils the abruptness of the language; the original runs thus--"My soul
for the Lord more than those watching for the morning--watching for the morning."
This is a fine poetical repeat. We long for the favour of the Lord more than
weary sentinels long for the morning light which will release them from their
tedious watch. Indeed this is true. He that has once rejoiced in communion with
God is sore tried by the hidings of his face, and grows faint with strong desire
for the Lord's appearing,
"When wilt thou come unto me, Lord?
Until thou dost appear,
I count each moment for a day,
Each minute for a year."
Verse 7. Let Israel hope in the LORD. Or, "Hope thou,
Israel, in Jehovah." Jehovah is Israel's God; therefore, let Israel hope in him.
What one Israelite does he wishes all Israel to do. That man has a just right to
exhort others who is himself setting the example. Israel of old waited upon
Jehovah and wrestled all the night long, and at last he went his way succoured
by the Hope of Israel: the like shall happen to all his seed. God has great
things in store for his people, they ought to have large expectations. For
with the LORD there is mercy. This is in his very nature, and by the
light of nature it may be seen. But we have also the light of grace, and
therefore we see still more of his mercy. With us there is sin; but hope is
ours, because "with the Lord there is mercy." Our comfort lies not in that which
is with us, but in that which is with our God. Let us look out of self and its
poverty to Jehovah and his riches of mercy. And with him is plenteous
redemption. He can and will redeem all his people out of their many and
great troubles; nay, their redemption is already wrought out and laid up with
him, so that he can at any time give his waiting ones the full benefit thereof.
The attribute of mercy, and the fact of redemption, are two most sufficient
reasons for hoping in Jehovah; and the fact that there is no mercy or
deliverance elsewhere should effectually wean the soul from all idolatry. Are
not these deep things of God a grand comfort for those who are crying out of the
depths? Is it not better to be in the deeps with David, hoping in God's mercy,
than up on the mountain tops, boasting in our own fancied righteousness?
Verse 8. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Our iniquities are our worst dangers: if saved from these, we are saved
altogether; but there is no salvation from them except by redemption. What a
blessing that this is here promised in terms which remove it out of the region
of question: the Lord shall certainly redeem his believing people from all their
sins. Well may the redemption be plenteous since it concerns all Israel and all
iniquities! Truly, our Psalm has ascended to a great height in this verse: this
is no cry out of the depths, but a chorale in the heights. Redemption is the top
of covenant blessings. When it shall be experienced by all Israel, the latter
day glory shall have come, and the Lord's people shall say, "Now, Lord, what
wait we for?" Is not this a clear prophecy of the coming of our Lord Jesus the
first time? and may we not now regard it as the promise of his second and more
glorious coming for the redemption of the body? For this our soul doth wait:
yea, our heart and our flesh cry out for it with joyful expectation.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. The Psalm is the eleventh in the order of the
gradual Psalms, and treats of the eleventh step in the spiritual ascent, viz.,
penitential prayer. --H. T. Armfield.
Whole Psalm. Of the Psalms which are called Penitential
this is the chiefest. But, as it is the most excellent, so it has been perverted
to the most disgraceful abuse in the Popedom: e.g., that it should be mumbled in
the lowest voice by slow bellies, in the sepulchral vigils for their liberation
of souls from purgatory: as if David were here treating of the dead, when he has
not even spoken a word about them; but says that he himself, a living man, was
calling upon God; and exhorts the Israelites, living men also, to do the same.
But leaving the buffooneries of the Papists we will rather consider the true
meaning and use of the Psalm. It contains the most ardent prayer of a man
grievously distressed by a sense of the Divine anger against sin: by earnest
turning to God and penitence, he is seeking the forgiveness of his iniquities.
Whole Psalm. The Holy Ghost layeth out here two opposite
passions most plainly--fear, in respect of evil deserving sins, and
hope, in regard of undeserved mercies. --Alexander Roberts. 1610.
Whole Psalm. The passionate earnestness of the Psalm is
enhanced by the repetition eight times in it of the Divine Name. --The
Speaker's Commentary, 1873.
Whole Psalm. This Psalm, perhaps more than any other, is
marked by its mountains: depth; prayer; conviction; light; hope; waiting;
watching; longing; confidence; assurance; universal happiness and joy...Just as
the barometer marks the rising of the weather, so does this Psalm, sentence by
sentence, record the progress of the soul. And you may test yourself by it, as
by a rule or measure, and ask yourself at each line, "Have I reached to this?
Have I reached to this?" and so take your spiritual gauge. --James Vaughan, in
"Steps to Heaven," 1878.
Whole Psalm. Whosoever he was that wrote this Psalm, he
maketh mention and rehearsal of that prayer that he made to his God in the time
of his great danger, and this he doth to the fifth verse; then finding in
experience a comfortable answer, and how good a thing it was to pray to God, and
to wait on him, he professes, that, as before, he had awaited on him, so still
in time coming he would await on him, and this he doeth to the seventh verse. In
the third and last part, he turneth him to Israel, to the church, and exhorteth
them to await on God, as he had done, promising them mercy and redemption from
all their iniquities if they would await on him. --Robert Rollock,
Whole Psalm. Luther being once asked which were the best
Psalms, replied, Psalmi Paulini;and when his companions at table pressed
him to say which these were, he answered: Psalms 32, 51, 130, and 143. --Franz
Whole Psalm. Luther, when he was buffeted by the devil at
Coburg, and in great affliction, said to those about him, Venite, in
conternptum Disboll, Psalmnum, De Profundis, quatuor vocibus
cantemus;"Come, let us sing that Psalm, `Out of the depths, ' etc., in
derision of the devil." --John Trapp.
Whole Psalm. The circumstances in which Dr. John Owen's
Exposition of Psalm 130 originated are peculiarly interesting. Dr. Owen himself,
in a statement made to Mr. Richard Davis, who ultimately became pastor of a
church in Rowel, Northamptonshire, explains the occasion which led him to a very
careful examination of the fourth verse in the Psalm. Mr. Davis, being under
religious impressions, had sought a conference with Owen. In the course of the
conversation, Dr. Owen put the question, "Young man, pray in what manner do you
think to go to God?" "Through the Mediator, sir", answered Mr. Davis. "That is
easily said", replied the doctor, "but I assure you it is another thing to go to
God through the Mediator than many who make use of the expression are aware of.
I myself preached Christ", he continued, "some years, when I had but very
little, if any, experimental acquaintance with access to God through Christ;
until the Lord was pleased to visit me with sore affliction, whereby I was
brought to the mouth of the grave, and under which my soul was oppressed with
horror and darkness; but God graciously relieved my spirit by a powerful
application of Ps 130:4, But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou
mayest be feared, from whence I received special instruction, peace and
comfort, in drawing near to God through the Mediator, and preached thereupon
immediately after my recovery." --William H. Goold, editor of Owen's Collected
Verse 1. Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.
Is there not a depth of sin, and a depth of misery by reason Of sin, and a depth
of sorrow by reason of misery? In all which, both David was, and I, God help me,
am deeply plunged; and are not these depths enough out of which to cry? And vet,
perhaps, none of these depths is that which David means; but there are depths of
danger--a danger of body and a danger of soul, and out of these it seems that
David cried; for the danger of his body was so deep that it had brought him to
death's door, and the danger of his soul so deep that it had almost brought him
to the gates of despair; and had he not just cause then to say, "Out of the
depths have cried to thee, O God"? And yet there is a depth besides these
that must help to lift us out of these--a depth of devotion, without which depth
our crying out of other depths will never be heard. For devotion is a fire that
puts a heat into out' crying, and carries it up into coelum empyroeum
--the heaven of fire, where God himself is. And now join all these depths
together-- the depth of sin, of misery, of sorrow, the depth of danger, and the
depth of devotion, --and then tell me if David had not, if I have not, as just
cause as ever Jonah had to say, "Out of the depths have I cried to thee, O God."
Indeed, to cry out of the depths hath many considerable circumstances to move
God to hear: it acknowledgeth his infinite power when no distance can hinder his
assistance; it presents our own faith when no extremity can weaken our hope; it
magnifies God's goodness when he, the Most High, regards the most low; it
expresses our own earnestness, seeing crying out of depths must needs be a deep
cry; and if each of these singly, and by itself, be motive sufficient to move
God to hear, how strong must the motive needs be when they are all united? and
united they are all in crying out of the depths; and therefore now that I cry to
thee out of the depths, be moved, O God, in thy great mercy to "hear my
voice." It is cause enough for God not to hear some because they do not
cry--cause enough not to hear some that cry because not out of the depths; but
when crying and out of the depths are joined together, it was never known that
God refused to hear; and therefore now that I cry to thee out of the depths, be
pleased, O God, in thy great mercy to hear my voice. --Sir Richard Baker, in
"Meditations and Disquisitions upon the Three last Psalmes of David",
Verse 1. Out of the depths. By the deep places (as all the
ancients consent) is meant the deep places of afflictions, and the deep places
of the heart troubled for sin. Afflictions are compared to deep waters. Ps
18:16: "He drew me out of many waters." "Save me, O God, for the waters are come
in unto my soul." And surely God's children are often cast into very desperate
cases, and plunged into deep miseries, to the end that they may send out of a
contrite and feeling heart such prayers as may mount aloft and pierce the
heavens. When we are in prosperity our prayers come from our lips; and therefore
the Lord is forced to cast us down, that our prayers may come from our hearts,
and that our senses may be wakened from the security in which they are lying.
Albeit the throne of God be most high, yet he delighteth to hear the petition of
hearts that are most low, that are most cast down by the sight of sin. There is
no affliction, neither any place so low (yea, if as low as the belly of the
whale wherein Jonah lay) which can separate us from the love of the Lord, or
stay our prayers from coming before him. Those that are farthest cast down are
not farthest from God, but are nearest unto him. God is near to a contrite
heart, and it is the proper seat where his Spirit dwelleth: Isa 66:2. And thus
God dealeth with us, as men do with such houses that they are minded to build
sumptuously and on high; for then they dig deep grounds for the foundation. Thus
God purposing to make a fair show of Daniel, and the three children in Babel; of
Joseph in Egypt; of David in Israel; he first threw them into the deep waters of
affliction. Daniel is cast into the den of lions; the three children are thrown
into the fiery furnace; Joseph is imprisoned; David exiled. Yet all those he
exalted and made glorious temples to himself. Mark hereby the dulness of our
nature, that is such, that God is forced to use sharp remedies to awaken us.
Jonah lay sleeping in the ship, when the tempest of God's wrath was pursuing
him: God therefore threw him irate the belly of the whale, and the bottom of the
deep, that from those deep places he might cry to him. When, therefore, we are troubled by heavy sickness, or poverty,
or oppressed by the tyranny of men, let us make profit and use thereof,
considering that God hath cast his best children into such dangers for their
profit; and that it is better to be in deep dangers praying, than on the high
mountains of vanity playing. --Archibald Symson, in "A Sacred Septenarie,"
Verse 1. Out of the depths. "Depths!" oh! into what
"depths" men can sink! How far from happiness, glory, and goodness men
can fall. There is the depth of poverty. A man can become utterly
stripped of all earthly possessions and worldly friends! Sometimes we come upon
a man, still living, but in such abject circumstances, that it strikes us as a
marvel that a human being can sink lower than the beasts of the field. Then there is the depth of sorrow. Billow after billow breaks
over the man, friend after friend departs, lover and friend are put into
darkness. All the fountains of his nature are broken up. He is like a water
logged ship, from the top waves plunging down as if into the bottom of the sea.
So often in such depths, sometimes like Jonah in the whale's belly, the monster
carrying him down, down, down, into darkness. There are depths after depths of mental darkness, when the soul
becomes more and more sorrowful, down to that very depth which is just this side
of despair. Earth hollow, heaven empty, the air heavy, every form a deformity,
all sounds discord, the past a gloom, the present a puzzle, the future a horror.
One more step down, and the man will stand in the chamber of despair, the floor
of which is blistering hot, while the air is biting cold as the polar
atmosphere. To what depths the spirit of a man may fall!
But the most horrible depth into which a man's soul can descend
is sin. Sometimes we begin on gradual slopes, and slide so swiftly that
we soon reach great depths; depths in which there are horrors that are neither
in poverty, nor sorrow, nor mental depression. It is sin, it is an outrage
against God and ourselves. We feel that there is no bottom. Each opening depth
reveals a greater deep. This is really tile bottomless pit, with everlasting
accumulations of speed, and perpetual lacerations as we descend. Oh, depths
below depths! Oh, falls from light to gloom, from gloom to darkness! Oh, the
hell of sin! What can we do? We can simply cry, CRY, CRY! But,
let us cry to God. Useless, injurious are other cries. They are mere expressions
of impotency, or protests against imaginary fate. But the cry of the spirit to
the Most High is a manful cry. Out of the depths of all poverty, all sorrow, all
mental depression, all sin, cry unto God! --From "The Study and
the Pulpit", 1877.
Verse 1. Out of the depths have I cried.
Up from the deeps, O God, I cry to thee!
Hear my soul's prayer, hear thou her litany,
O thou who sayest, "Come, wanderer, home to me."
Up from the deeps of sorrow, wherein lie
Dark secrets veil'd from earth's unpitying eye,
My prayers, like star crown'd angels, Godward fly.
From the calm bosom when in quiet hour
God's Holy Spirit reigns with largest power,
Then shall each thought in prayer's white blossom flower.
Not from life's shallows, where the waters sleep,
A dull, low marsh where stagnant vapours creep,
But ocean voiced, deep calling unto deep.
As he of old, King David, call'd to thee,
As cries the heart of poor humanity,
"Clamavi, Domine, exaudi me!" --C. S. Fenner.
Verse 1. But when he crieth from the deep, he riseth from
the deep, and his very cry suffereth him not to be long at the bottom.
Verse 1. It has been well said that the verse puts before us
six conditions of true prayer: it is lowly, "out of the deep"; fervent,
"have I called"; direct to God himself, "unto thee"; reverent, "O
LORD"; awed, "LORD", a solemn title, is again used; one's very own, "hear my
voice." --Neale and Littledale.
Verse 1. Have I cried. There are many kinds and degrees of
prayer in the world; from the coldest form to the most intense agony. Every one
prays; but very few "cry." But of those who do "cry to God", the majority would
say, --"I owe it to the depths. I learnt it there. I often prayed before;
but never--till I was carried down very deep--did I cry." "Out of the
depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord." It is well worth while to go down
into any "depth" to be taught to "cry." It is not too much to say that we do not know what prayer may
be till we have "cried." And we seldom rise till we have gone very deep.
"I die! I perish! I am lost! Help, Lord! Help me! Save me now! Do it now, Lord,
or I am lost. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hearken and do; defer not,
for thine own sake, O my God!" In mid day, if you are taken from the bright and sunny scenes
of light, and go down into the bottom of a pit you may see the stars, which were
invisible to you in the upper air. And how many could say that things they knew
not in life's noon, they have found in life's midnight, and that they owe their
glimpses of glory, and their best avenues of thought, and the importunacy of
prayer, and the victories of faith, to seasons when they walked in very dark
places. "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord."
Verse 1. Have I cried unto thee, Jehovah. God gave out that
name Jehovah to his people to confirm their faith in the stability of his
promises: Ex 3:1-22 He who is Being himself will assuredly give being and
subsistence to his promises. Being to deal with God about the promises of grace,
he makes his application to him under this name: "I call upon thee,
Jehovah." --John Owen, in "A Practical Exposition upon Psalm 130."
Verse 2. Lord, hear my voice, etc. Every prayer should have
its reverent invocation, as every temple its porch. The two greatest prayers in
the Old Testament--Solomon's prayer and Daniel's prayer --both have it very
emphatically. And it is a very distinct part of our own perfect model: "Our
Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." On our part it is
deferential, and puts the mind into its proper form; while it places the great
God, whom it addresses, where he ought to be, --in the awe of his glory; in the
magnitude of his power; in the infinitude of his wisdom and love. Never think
little of that part of your prayer: never omit, never hurry over the opening
address. Do not go into his presence without a pause, or some devout ascription.
Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my
supplications. True, he is always listening and waiting for his children's
"cry", --far more prepared to answer, than we are to ask. And the very fact that
we are praying is a proof of his attention, --for who but he put it into our
hearts to make that prayer? Nevertheless, it becomes us, and honours him, to
establish, at the outset, the right relationship between a creature and his
Creator; between a child and his Father: "Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be
attentive to the voice of my supplication." --James Vaughan.
Verse 2. Lord. Hebrew, Adonai. As Jehovah
marks his unchangeable faithfulness to his promises of delivering his people, so
Adonai his Lordship over all hindrances in the way of his
delivering them. --Andrew Robert Fausset, in "A Commentary, Critical,
Experimental and Practical", 1866.
Verse 2. Lord, hear my voice, etc. The expressions are
metaphorical, and borrowed from the carriage of a parent to a child, and upon
the matter his suit is this, --Lord, notice me when I pray, as a parent will
notice his distressed child's cry when he is like to ruin. Let thine ears be
attentive to the voice of my supplications; that goes a little further; that
as a parent knowing a child to be in hazard, he will listen and hearken
attentively if he can hear him cry, and notice and ponder that cry, and what he
cries for; so he pleaded with God, that he would be waiting on and attentive, to
see and hear if a cry should come from him, and that he would affectionately
ponder and notice it when he hears it. --George Hutcheson, 1678.
Verse 3. If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, etc. But
doth not the Lord mark iniquity? Doth not he take notice of every sin acted by
any of the children of men, especially by his own children? Why, then, doth the
Psalmist put it upon an if? "If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquity." 'Tis true,
the Lord marks all iniquity to know it, but he doth not mark any iniquity in his
children to condemn them for it: so the meaning of the Psalm is, that if the
Lord should mark sin with a strict and severe eye, as a judge, to charge it upon
the person sinning, no man could bear it.
The word rendered to mark notes, first, to watch, or to
observe with strictest diligence, and is therefore in the noun rendered a
watch tower, upon which a man is placed to take observation of all things
that are done, and of all persons that pass by, or approach and come near. A
watchman placed upon a high tower is bound industriously and critically to
observe all passengers and passages, all that his eye can reach. So saith the
text, --If thou shouldest mark as a watchman, and eye with rigour everything that
passeth from us, "who shall stand?" that is, make good his cause in the
day of his judgment and trial before thee.
Secondly, the word signifieth to keep in mind, to lay up, to
have, as it were, a store and stock, a memorial or record, of such and such
things by us. In that sense it is said (Ge 37:11), "Joseph's brethren envied
him; but his father observed the saying": he marked what Joseph spake about his
dreams, he laid it up, and did not let it pass away as a dream, or as a vision
of the night. Thus, by "If the Lord should mark iniquity", we
understand--if he should treasure up our sins in his memory, and keep them by
him, "who were able to stand when accounted with?" The Lord, in a
way of grace, seeth as if he saw, not, and winks at us oftentimes when we do
amiss. --Joseph Caryl.
Verse 3. Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my
supplication, but let not thine eyes be intentive to the stains of my sin; for
If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
or who shall be able to abide it? Did not the angels fall when thou markest
their follies? Can flesh, which is but dust, be clean before thee, when the
stars, which are of a far purer substance, are not? Can anything be clean in thy
sight which is not as clean as thy sight? and can any cleanness be equal to
thine! Alas! O Lord, we are neither angels nor stars, and how then can we stand
when those fell? how can we be clean when these be impure? If thou shouldest
mark what is done amiss, there would be marking work enough for thee as long as
the world lasts; for what action of man is free from stain of sin, or from
defect of righteousness? Therefore, mark not anything in me, O God, that I have
done, but mark that only in me which thou hast done thyself. Mark in me thine
own image; and then thou mayest look upon me, and yet say still, as once thou
saidst, Et erant omnia valde bona "And all things were very
good". --Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 3 (whole verse). We are introduced at once into
all the solemnities of a criminal court. The judge is seated on the bench: the
culprit is standing at the bar, charged with a capital offence, the witnesses
are giving their evidence against him. The judge is listening attentively to
everything which is said; and in order to assist his memory, he takes notes of
the more important parts. If the Lord were to try us after this fashion, what
would be the result? Suppose him seated on his throne of inflexible
righteousness, taking notes, with a pen in his hand, of the transgressions which
are proven against us. Nothing is omitted. Every sin is marked down with its
peculiar aggravations. There is no possibility of escape from the deserved
condemnation. The evidence against us is clear, and copious, and overwhelming. A
thousandth part of it is sufficient to determine our doom. The Judge has no
alternative but to pronounce the awful sentence. We must die a felon's death.
If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
Verse 3. If thou, LORD, shouldest mark. If thou shouldest
inquire and scrutinize, and then shouldest retain and impute: (for the Hebrew
word imports both:) if thou shouldest inquire, thou wouldst find something of
iniquity in the most righteous of mankind; and when thou hast found it, if thou
shouldest retain it, and call him to an account for it, he could by no means
free himself of the charge, or expiate the crime. Inquiring, thou wouldst easily
find iniquity; but the sinner by the most diligent inquiry will not be able to
discover a ransom, and therefore will be unable to stand, will have no place on
which to rest his foot, but will fall by the irresistible judgments of thy law,
and the sentence of thy justice. --Robert Leighton.
Verse 3. If thou, LORD. He here fixes on another name of
God, which is Jah: a name, though from the same root as the former, yet seldom
used but to intimate and express the terrible majesty of God. "He rideth on the
heavens, and is extolled by his name Jail": Ps 68:4. He is to deal now with God
about the guilt of sin: and God is represented to the soul as great and
terrible, that he may know what to expect and look for, if the matter must be
tried out according to the demerit of sin. --John Owen.
Verse 3. If thou, LORD...O Lord. Mark here that in this
third verse he two times nameth God by the Lord (as he doth also in the
ninth verse), showing to us hereby his earnest desire to take hold of God with
both his hands. He nameth him not only Adonai, but also Jah (which
two signify his nature and power); all the qualities of God must be conjoined
and concur together for us: although he be Adonai, yet if he be not also
Jah we are undone. --Archibald Symson.
Verse 3. LORD...Lord. If God should show himself as JAH, no
creature would be able to stand before him, who is Adonai, and can
therefore carry out his judicial will or purpose. --Franz Delitzsch.
Verse 3. Iniquities. The literal meaning of the word
"iniquity" is "a thing which is not equal", or "not fair." Whatever
breaks a command of God is "not equal." It does not match with what man is, nor
with what God is. It does not keep the high level of the law. It is altogether
out of proportion to all that God has done. It destroys the harmony of creation.
It does not rise even to the height of conscience. Still more, it mars and makes
a flaw in the divine government. Therefore sin is an unequal thing, fitting
nothing, disarranging everything. And it is not fair. It is not fair to
that God upon whose empire it is a trespass. It is not fair to your fellow
creatures, to whom it may be a very great injury. It is not fair to yourself,
for your happiness lies in obedience. Therefore we call sin "iniquity."
Or, as the Prayer Book Version expresses the same idea, "a thing amiss", missing
its proper mark. "If thou shouldest be extreme to mark what is done
amiss." --James Vaughan.
Verse 3. O Lord, who shall stand? As soon as God manifests
signs of anger, even those who appear to bc the most holy adopt this language.
If God should determine to deal with them according to justice, and call them to
his tribunal, not one would be able to stand; but would be compelled to fly for
refuge to the mercy of God. See the confessions of Moses, Job, David, Nehemiah,
Isaiah, Daniel, Paul, and others of the apostles. Hear Christ teaching his
disciples to cry to the Father who is in heaven, "Forgive us our
trespasses!" If before God the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, although
possessing unusual holiness, nevertheless fell down, and as suppliants prayed
for forgiveness, what shall be done with those who add sin to sin? --D. H.
Verses 3-4. These two verses contain the sum of all the
Scriptures. In the third is the form of repentance, and in the fourth the
mercies of the Lord. These are the two mountains, Gerizim and Ebal, mentioned in
De 27:12-13. These are the pillars in Solomon's temple (1Ki 7:21), called Jachin
and Boaz. We must, with Paul, persuade ourselves that we are come from Mount
Sinai to Mount Zion, where mercy is, although some sour grapes must be eaten by
the way. Jeremy tasted in his vision first a bitter fig out of one basket, then
a sweet fig out of the other. In the days of Moses the waters were first bitter,
then sweetened by the sweet wood. And Elisha cast in salt into the pottage of
the sons of the prophets, then it became wholesome. --Archibald Symson.
Verses 3-4. As I was thus in musing and in my studies,
considering how to love the LORD, and to express my love to him, that saying
came in upon me: If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who
shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be
feared. These were good words to me, especially the latter part thereof; to
wit, that there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared; that is, as
then I understood it, that he might be loved and had in reverence; for it was
thus made out to me, that the great God did set so high an esteem upon the love
of his poor creatures, that rather than he would go without their love he would
pardon their transgressions. --John Bunyan.
Verse 4. But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest
be feared. One would think that punishment should procure fear, and
forgiveness love; but nemo majus diligit, quam qui maxime veretur
offendere --no man more truly loves God than he that is most fearful to
offend him. "Thy mercy reacheth to the heavens, and thy faithfulness to the
clouds" --that is, above all sublimities. God is glorious in all his works, but
most glorious in his works of mercy; and this may be one reason why St. Paul
calls the gospel of Christ a "glorious gospel": 1Ti 1:11. Solomon tells us, "It
lathe glory of a man to pass by an offence." Herein is God most glorious, in
that he passeth by all the offences of his children. Lord, who can know thee and
not love thee, know thee and not fear thee? We fear thee for thy justice, and
love thee for thy mercy; yea, fear thee for thy mercy, and love thee for thy
justice; for thou art infinitely good in both. --Thomas Adams.
Verse 4. But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest
be feared. But is this not a mistaking in David to say, There is
mercy with God, that he may be feared; all as one to say, There is severity with
him, that he may be loved for if we cannot love one for being severe, how should
we fear him for being merciful I Should it not, therefore, have been rather
said, There is justice with thee, that thou mayest be feared? seeing it is
justice that strikes a terror and keeps in awe; mercy breeds a boldness, and
boldness cannot stand with fear, and therefore not fear with mercy. But is there
not, I may say, an active fear, not to offend God, as well as a passive fear for
having offended him? and with God's mercy may well stand the active fear, though
not so well, perhaps, the passive fear which is incident properly to his
justice. There is a common error in the world, to think we may be the
bolder to sin because God is merciful; but, O my soul, take heed of this error,
for God's mercy is to no such purpose; it is not to make us bold, but to make us
fear: the greater his mercy is, the greater ought our fear to be, for there is
mercy with him that he may be feared. Unless we fear, he may choose whether he
will be merciful or no; or rather, we maybe sure he will not be merciful, seeing
he hath mercy for none but for them that fear him; and there is great reason for
this, for to whom should mercy show itself but to them that need it? and if we
think we need it we will certainly fear. Oh, therefore, most gracious God, make
me to fear thee; for as thou wilt not be merciful to me unless I fear thee, so I
cannot fear thee unless thou first be merciful unto me. --Sir Richard
Verse 4. But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest
be feared. Even Saul himself will lift up his voice and weep when he
seeth a clear testimony of the love and undeserved kindness of David. Hast thou
never beheld a condemned prisoner dissolved in tears upon the unexpected and
unmerited receipt of a pardon, who all the time before was as hard as a flint?
The hammer of the law may break the icy heart of man with terrors and horrors,
and yet it may remain ice still, unchanged; but when the fire of love kindly
thaws its ice, it is changed and dissolved into water--it is no longer ice, but
of another nature. --George Swinnock.
Verse 4. But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest
be feared. The Evangelical doctrine of the gratuitous forgiveness of
sins does not of itself beget carelessness, as the Papists falsely allege; but
rather a true and genuine fear of God; like as the Psalmist here shows that this
is the final cause and effect of the doctrine. --Solomon Gesner.
Verse 4. But there is forgiveness with thee, etc. His
judgments and his wrath may make us astonished and stupefied; but, if there be
no more they will never make us to come to God. Then if this be not sufficient,
what more is requisite? Even a sight of the Lord's mercy, for that is most
forcible to allure, as the prophet saith here, and as the church of God says (So
1:3), "Because of the savour of thy good ointments, therefore the virgins love
thee." This only is forcible to allure the sinner: for all the judgments of God,
and curses of the law, will never allure him. What was the chief thing that
moved the prodigal son to return home to his father? Was it chiefly the
distress, the disgrace and poverty where with he was burdened, or the famine
that almost caused him to starve? No, but the chief thing was this, he
remembered that he had a loving father. That maketh him to resolve with an
humble confession to go home Lu 15:1-32 Even so is it with the sinner; it is not
terrors and threatenings that chiefly will move him to come to God, but the
consideration of his manifold and great mercies. --Robert Rollock.
Verse 4. But. How significant is that word "but" As
if you heard justice clamouring, "Let the sinner die", and the fiends in hell
howling, "Cast him down into the fires", and conscience shrieking, : "Let him
perish", and nature itself groaning beneath his weight, the earth weary with
carrying him, and the sun tired with shining upon the traitor, the very air sick
with finding breath for one who only spends it in disobedience to God. The man
is about to be destroyed, to be swallowed up quick, when suddenly there comes
this thrice blessed "but", which stops the reckless course of ruin, puts
forth its strong arm bearing a golden shield between the sinner and destruction,
and pronounces these words, "But there is forgiveness with God, that
he may be feared." --C. H. S.
Verse 4. There is a propitiation with thee, so some read it:
Jesus Christ is the great propitiation, the ransom which God has found; he is
ever with him, as advocate for us, and through him we hope to obtain
forgiveness. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 4. Forgiveness. Hebrew, selichah, a word used
only here and by Daniel once (Da 9:9), and by Nehemiah (Ne 9:17).
Verse 4. That thou mayest be feared. This forgiveness, this
smile of God, binds the soul to God with a beautiful fear. Fear to lose one
glance of love. Fear to lose one work of kindness. Fear to be carried away from
the heaven of his presence by an insidious current of worldliness. Fear of
slumber. Fear of error. Fear of not enough pleasing him. Our duty, then, is to
drink deep of God's forgiving love. To be filled with it is to be filled with
purity, fervency, and faith. Our sins have to hide their diminished heads, and
slink away through crevices, when forgiveness--when Christ--enters the soul.
--George Bowen, in "Daily Meditations," 1873.
Verses 4-5, 7-8. David puts his soul out of all fear of God's
taking this course reckoning strictly with poor penitent souls, by laying
down this comfortable conclusion, as an indubitable truth: "But there
is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared." That is, there is
forgiveness in thy nature, thou carriest a pardoning heart in thy bosom; yea,
there is forgiveness in thy promise; thy merciful heart doth not only incline
thee to thoughts of forgiving; but thy faithful promise binds thee to draw forth
the same unto all that humbly and seasonably lay claim thereunto. Now, this
foundation laid, see what superstructure this holy man raiseth (Ps 130:5): "I
wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope." As
if he had said, Lord, I take thee at thy word, and am resolved by thy grace to
wait at the door of thy promise, never to stir thence till I have my promised
dole (forgiveness of my sins) sent out unto me. And this is so sweet a morsel,
that he is loath to eat it alone, and therefore he sends down the dish, even to
the lower end of the table, that every godly person may taste with him of it (Ps
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." As if he had said, That which is a ground of hope
to me, notwithstanding the clamour of my sins, affords as solid and firm a
bottom to any true Israelite or sincere soul in the world, did he but rightly
understand himself, and the mind of God in his promise. Yea, I have as strong a
faith for such as for my own soul, and I durst pawn the eternity of my
happiness upon this principle, --that God should redeem every sincere Israelite
from all his iniquities. --William Gurnall.
Verse 5. I wait for the LORD, etc. We pronounce this a most
blessed posture of the believer. It runs counter to everything that is natural,
and, therefore, it is all the more a supernatural grace of the gracious soul. In
the first place it is the posture of faith. Here is the gracious soul
hanging in faith upon God in Christ Jesus; upon the veracity of God to fulfil
his promise, upon the power of God to help him in difficulty, upon the wisdom of
God to counsel him in perplexity, upon the love of God to shield him in danger,
upon the omniscience of God to guide him with his eye, and upon the omnipresence
of God to cheer him with his presence, at all times and in all places, his sun
and shield. Oh, have faith in God.
It is also a prayerful posture. The soul waiting
for God, is the soul waiting upon God. The Lord often shuts us up to this
waiting for his interposition on our behalf, that he may keep us waiting and
watching at the foot of his cross, in earnest, believing, importunate prayer.
Oh, it is the waiting for the Lord that keeps the soul waiting upon the
It is also the posture of a patient waiting for the
Lord. There is not a more God honouring grace of the Christian character than
patience --a patient waiting on and for the Lord. It is that Christian
grace, the fruit of the Spirit, which will enable you to bear with dignity,
calmness, and submission the afflictive dealings of your Heavenly Father, the
rebuke of the world, and the wounding of the saints.
It is the posture of rest. A soul waiting for the Lord
is a soul resting in the Lord. Waiting and resting! Wearied with traversing in
vain the wide circle of human expedients; coming to the end of all your own
wisdom, strength, and resources; your uneasy, jaded spirit is brought into this
resting posture of waiting on, and waiting for, the Lord; and thus folds its
drooping wings upon the very bosom of God. Oh, how real and instant is the rest
found in Jesus! Reposing in him, however profound the depth of the soul, however
dark the clouds that drape it, or surging the waters that overwhelm it, all is
sunshine and serenity within. --Condensed from "Soul Depths and Soul Heights",
by Octavius Winslow, 1874.
Verse 5. I wait for the LORD. Waiting is a great part
of life's discipline, and therefore God often exercises the grace of waiting.
Waiting has four purposes. It practises the patience of faith. It gives
time for preparation for the coming gift. It makes the blessing the sweeter when
it arrives. And it shows the sovereignty of God, -- to give just when and just as
he pleases. It may be difficult to define exactly what the Psalmist had in his
mind when he said, "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." It may have been the Messiah, whose coming was a thing close
at hand to the mind of the ancient Jews, just as the Second Advent is to us. It may have been some special interposition of Divine
Providence. But more probably, looking at the place which it occupies, and at
the whole tenor of the Psalm, and its line of thought, "The Lord" he waited for
so intently was that full sense of safety, peace, and love which God's felt
presence gives, and which is, indeed, nothing else but the coming of the Lord
most sensibly and palpably into an anxious and longing heart. The picture of the waiting man is a striking one. It is as of
one on the ridge of a journey, looking onward on his way, standing on tiptoe,
and therefore needing something to lean on, and to support him. "I wait for
the Lord", --spiritually, with my deepest thoughts--in the very centre of my
being--"I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait." And I rest, I stay
myself on what thou, O Lord, hast said. "My soul doth wait, and in his word do I
hope." In all your waitings remember two things: Let it not be
so much the event which you wait for, as the Lord of the event; the Lord
in the event. And take care that you have a promise underneath you, --"In his
word do I hope", --else "waiting" will be too much for you, and after all it may
be in vain. --James Vaughan.
Verse 5. I wait...I hope. Waiting and hoping ever attend the
same thing. No man will wait at all for that which he hath no hope of, and he
who hath hope will wait always. He gives not over waiting, till he gives over
hoping. The object of hope is some future good, but the act of hoping is at
present good, and that is present pay to bear our charges in waiting. The word
implies both a patient waiting and a hopeful trusting. So Christ expounds it (Mt
12:21), rendering that of the prophet (Isa 42:1-4), "The isles shall wait for
his law", thus, "In his name shall the Gentiles trust." --Joseph Caryl.
Verses 5-6. In these two verses he doth four times make
mention of his hope, and attendance upon God and his word, to let us see how
sure a hold we should take on God, and with how many temptations our faith is
assaulted, when we can see no reason thereof. Nothing will bear us up but hope.
Spero meliora. What encourages husbandmen and mariners against the surges
and waves of the sea, and evil weather, but hope of better times? What
comforteth a sick man in time of sickness, but hope of health? or a poor man in
his distress, but hope of riches? or a prisoner, but hope of liberty? or a
banished man, but hope to come home? All these hopes may fail, as oftentimes
wanting a warrant. Albeit a physician may encourage a sick man by his fair
words, yet he cannot give him an assurance of his recovery, for his health
depends on God: friends and courtiers may promise poor men relief, but all men
are liars; only God is faithful who hath promised. Therefore let us fix our
faith on God, and our hope in God; for he will stand by his promise. No man hath
hoped in him in vain, neither was ever any disappointed of his hope.
Verses 5, 7. Faith doth ultimately centre in the Deity. God
himself in his glorious nature, is the ultimate object where unto our faith is
resolved. The promise, simply considered, is not the object of trust, but God in
the promise; and from the consideration of that we ascend to the Deity, and cast
our anchor there. "Hope in the word" is the first act, but succeeded by hoping
in the Lord: "In his word do I hope": that is not all; but,
"Let Israel hope in the Lord." That is the ultimate object of faith,
wherein the essence of our happiness consists, and that is God. God himself is
the true and full portion of the soul. --Stephen Charnock, 1628-1680.
Verse 6. My soul waiteth for the LORD. And now, my soul,
what do I live for but only to wait upon God, and to wait for God? To wait upon
him, to do him service, to wait for him, to be enabled to do him better service;
to wait upon him, as being Lord of all; and to wait for him, as being the
rewarder of all; to wait upon him whose service is better than any other
command, and to wait for him whose expectation is better than any other
possession. Let others, therefore, wait upon the world, wait for the world; I, O
God, will wait upon thee, for thee, seeing I find more true contentment in this
waiting than all the world can give me in enjoying; for how can I doubt of
receiving reward by my waiting for thee when my waiting for thee is itself the
reward of my waiting upon thee? And therefore my soul waiteth; for if my soul
did not wait, what were my waiting worth no more than I were worth myself, if I
had not a soul; but my soul puts a life into my waiting, and makes it become a
living sacrifice. Alas, my frail body is very unfit to make a waiter: it rather
needs to be waited upon itself: it must have so much resting, so often leave to
be excused from waiting, that if God should have no other waiters than bodies,
he would be left oftentimes to wait upon himself; but my soul is Divinoe
particula auroe a portion of the Divine breath, endued with all
qualities fit for a waiter; and hath it not received its abilities, O God, from
thee?] And therefore my soul waiteth, and is so intent in the service that it
waits "more than they that watch for the morning." --Sir Richard
Verse 6. Hammond thus renders the verse: --"My soul
hasteneth to the Lord from the guards in the morning, the guards in the
Verse 6. More than they that watch for the morning. Look, as
the weary sentinel that is wet and stiff with cold and the dews of the night, or
as the porters that watched in the Temple, the Levites, were waiting for the
daylight, so "more than they that watch for the morning" was he waiting for some
glimpse of God's favour. Though he do not presently ease us of our smart or
gratify our desires, yet we are to wait upon God. In time we shall have a good
answer. God's delays are not denials. Day will come at length, though the weary
sentinel or watchman counts it long first; so God will come at length; he will
not be at our beck. We have deserved nothing, but must wait for him in the
diligent use of means; as Benhadad's servants watched for the word "brother", or
anything of kindness to drop from the king of Israel. --Thomas Manton.
Verse 6. More than they that watch for the morning. How many
in the hallowed precincts of the Temple turned with anxious eye to the east, for
the first red streak over Moab's mountains that gave intimation of approaching
day; yet it was not for deliverance they waited, but for the accustomed hour
when the morning sacrifice could be offered, and the soul be relieved of its
gratitude in the hymn of thanksgiving, and of the burden of its sorrows and sins
by prayer, and could draw that strength from renewed intercourse with heaven,
that would enable it in this world to breathe the spirit and engage in the
beneficent and holy deeds of a better. --Robert Nisbet.
Verse 6. I say, more than they that watch for the morning,
for must there not be a proportion between the cause and effect? If my cause of
watching be more than theirs, should not my watching be more than theirs? They
that watch for the morning have good cause, no doubt, to watch for it, that it
may bring them the light of day; but have not I more cause to watch, who wait
for the light that lighteth every one that comes into the world? They that watch
for the morning wait but for the rising of the sun to free them from darkness,
that hinders their sight; but I wait for the rising of the Sun of righteousness
to dispel the horrors of darkness that affright my soul. They watch for the
morning that they may have light to walk by; but I wait for the Dayspring from
on High to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace. But though there may be question
made of the intentness of our watching, yet of the extensiveness there can be
none, for they that watch for the morning watch at most but a piece of the
night; but I have watched whole days and whole nights, and may I not then justly
say, I wait more than they that watch for the morning? --Sir Richard
Verse 6. Holy men like Simeon, and devout priests like
Zacharias, there were, amidst this seething people, who, brooding, longing,
waiting, chanted to themselves day by day the words of the Psalmist, "My soul
waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning." As
lovers that watch for the appointed coming, and start at the quivering of a
leaf, the flight of a bird, or the humming of a bee, and grow weary of the tense
strain, so did the Jews watch for their Deliverer. It is one of the most piteous
sights of history, especially when we reflect that he came, --and they knew him
not. --Henry Ward Beechef, in his "Life of Jesus the Christ."
Verse 6. Watch. We do injustice to that good and happy word,
"watch", when we take it as watching against; against a danger; against a
coming evil. It will bear that interpretation; but it is a far higher, and
better, and more filial thing to watch for a coming good than to watch against
an approaching evil. So, "watching for", we send up our arrows of prayer, and
then look trustingly to see where they are coming down again. So, "watching
for", we listen, in silence, for the familiar voice we love. So,
"watching for", we expect the Bridegroom! Take care, that as one always standing on the eve, --not of
danger, but of happiness, --your "watch" be the "watch" of love,
and confidence, and cheerful hope. --James Vaughan.
Verse 6. In the year 1830, on the night preceding the first
of August, the day the slaves in our West Indian Colonies were to come into
possession of the freedom promised them, many of them, we are told, never went
to bed at all. Thousands, and tens of thousands of them, assembled in their
places of worship, engaging in devotional duties, and singing praises to God,
waiting for the first streak of the light of the morning of that day on which
they were to be made free. Some of their number were sent to the hills, from
which they might obtain the first view of the coming day, and, by a signal,
intimate to their brethren down in the valley the dawn of the day that was to
make them men, and no longer, as they had hitherto been, mere goods and
chattels, --men with souls that God had created to live forever. How eagerly must
these men have watched for the morning! --T. W. Aveling, in "The Biblical
Verse 7. Let Israel hope in the LORD. This title is applied
to all the Lord's people; it sets forth their dignity --they are PRINCES;
it refers to their experience --they wrestle with God in prayer, and they
prevail. Despondency does not become a prince, much less a Christian. Our God is
"THE GOD OF HOPE"; and we should hope in him. Israel should hope in his mercy,
in his patience, in his provision, in his plenteous redemption. They should hope
for light in darkness; for strength in weakness; for direction in perplexity;
for deliverance in danger; for victory in conflict; and for triumph in death.
They should hope in God confidently, because he hath promised; prayerfully, for
he loves to hear from us; obediently, for his precepts are to be observed by us;
and constantly, for he is always the same. --James Smith (1802-1862),
in "The Believer's Daily Remembrancer."
Verse 7. Let Israel hope in the LORD. Whereas, in all
preceding verses of the Psalm, the thoughts, the sorrows, the prayer, the
penitence, the awe, the waiting, the watching, were all personal and confined to
himself; here a great change has taken place, and it is no longer "I",
but "Israel"; all Israel. "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." This is as it always ought to
be...It is the genius of our religion to go forth to multitudes. --James
Verse 7. For with the LORD there is mercy. Mercy has been
shown to us, but it dwells in God. It is one of his perfections. The exercise of
it is his delight. There is mercy with the Lord in all its fulness;he
never was more merciful than now, neither will he ever be. There is mercy with
the Lord in all its tenderness, he is full of compassion, his bowels are
troubled for us, his tender mercies are over us. There is mercy with him in all
its variety, it suits every case. Here is mercy that receives sinners, mercy that restores
backsliders, mercy that keeps believers. Here is the mercy that pardons sin,
that introduces to the enjoyment of all gospel privileges, and that blesses the
praying soul far beyond its expectations. With the Lord there is mercy, and he
loves to display it, he is ready to impart it, he has determined to exalt and
glorify it. There is mercy with the Lord; this should encourage the
miserable to approach him; this informs the fearful that they need bring nothing
to induce him to bless them; this calls upon backsliders to return to him; and
this is calculated to cheer the tried Christian, under all his troubles and
distresses. Remember, mercy is like God, it is infinite and eternal. Mercy is
always on the throne. Mercy may be obtained by any sinner. --James Smith.
Verse 7. With him is plenteous redemption. This plenteous
redemption leaves behind it no more relies of sin than Moses left hoofs of
beasts behind him in Egypt. It redeems not only from the fault, but from the
punishment; not only a tanto, but a toto not only from such,
but also from all sin and penalty; not only from the sense but from the fear
of pain; and in the fault, not only from the guilt, but front the stain; not
only from being censured, but from being questioned. Or is it meant by a
plenteous redemption that not only he leads captivity captive, but gives gifts
unto men? For what good is it to a prisoner to have his pardon, if he be kept in
prison still for not paying his fees? but if the prince, together with the
pardon, sends also a largess that may maintain him when he is set at liberty,
this, indeed, is a plenteous redemption; and such is the redemption that God's
mercy procures unto us. It not only delivers us from a dungeon, but puts us in
possession of a palace; it not only frees us from eating bread in the sweat of
our brows, but it restores us to Paradise, where all fruits are growing of their
own accord; it not only clears us from being captives, but endears us to be
children; and not only children, but heirs; and not only heirs, but co-heirs
with Christ; and who can deny this to be a plenteous redemption Or is it said a
plenteous redemption in regard of the price that was paid to redeem us? for we
are redeemed with a price, not of gold or precious stones, but with the precious
blood of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. For God so loved the
world that he gave his only Son to be a ransom for us, and this I am sure is a
plenteous redemption. --Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 7. Plenteous redemption, or more literally,
"redemption plenteously." He calls it plenteous, as Luther says, because such is
the straitness of our heart, the slenderness of our hopes, the weakness of our
faith, that it far exceeds all our capacity, all our petitions and all our
desires. --J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Verses 7-8. This Psalm containeth an evident prophecy of the
Messias; in setting forth his plentiful redemption, and that he should redeem
Israel, that is, the Church, from all their sins. Which words in their full
sense were used by an angel to Joseph, in telling him that the child's name
should be JESUS, "because he should save his people from their sins": Mt 1:21.
--Sir John Hayward (1560-1627), in "David's Tears," 1623.
Verse 8. He will redeem. "HE" emphatic, He alone, for none
other can. --J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Verse 8. From his iniquities. Not only from the punishment
(as Ewald and Hupfeld). The redemption includes the forgiveness of sins, the
breaking of the power and dominion of sin, and the setting free from all the
consequences of sin. --J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Verse 8. Iniquities. Iniquities of eye --has
conscience no voice there? Is no iniquity ever practised by your eye? Let
conscience speak. Iniquity of ear --is there no iniquity that enters into
your heart through the ear? You cannot listen to a conversation in the street
without iniquity entering into your heart through what Bunyan calls "Ear gate."
Iniquity of lip --do you always keep your tongue as with a bridle? Do your
lips never drop anything unbecoming the gospel? Is there no carnal conversation,
no angry word at home, no expression that you would not like the saints of God
to hear? What! your lips always kept so strictly that there is never a single
expression dropped from them which you would be ashamed to utter before an
assembly of God's people? Iniquity of thought --if your eyes, ears, and
lips are clean, is there no iniquity of thought? What! in that workshop within,
no iniquitous suggestions, no evil workings? Oh, how ignorant must we be of
ourselves, if we feel that we have no iniquity of thought! Iniquity of
imagination --does not fancy sometimes bring before you scenes of
sensuality in which your carnal nature is vile enough to revel? Iniquity of
memory --does not memory sometimes bring back sins you formerly committed,
and your evil nature is perhaps base enough to desire they had been greater
Iniquity of feeling --no enmity against God's people ever working? no
pride of heart? no covetousness? no hypocrisy? no self righteousness? no
sensuality? no base thought that you cannot disclose even to your bosom friend?
But here is the blessed promise--a promise only suited to Israel: for all but
Israel lose sight of their iniquities, and justify themselves in self
righteousness. None but Israel feel and confess their iniquities, and therefore
to Israel is the promise of redemption limited: "He shall redeem Israel
from all his iniquities." What! all? Yes, Not one left? No, not a
trace, not a shade, not the shadow of a shade; all buried, all gone, all
swallowed up, all blotted out, all freely pardoned, all cast behind God's back.
--Joseph C. Philpot, 1802-1869.
Verse 8. What a graceful and appropriate conclusion of this
comprehensive and instructive Psalm! Like the sun, it dawns veiled in cloud, it
sets bathed in splendour; it opens with soul depth, it closes with soul height.
Redemption from all iniquity! It baffles the most descriptive language, and
distances the highest measurement. The most vivid imagination faints in
conceiving it, the most glowing image fails in portraying it, and faith droops
her wing in the bold attempt to scale its summit. "He shall redeem Israel
from all his iniquities." The verse is a word painting of man restored, and
of Paradise regained. --Octavius Winslow.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. The assertion of an experienced believer.
1. I have cried--that is, I have earnestly, constantly,
2. I have cried only unto thee. Nothing could draw me to other
confidences, or make me despair of thee.
3. I have cried in distress. At my worst, temporally or
spiritually, I have cried out of the depths.
4. I therefore infer--that I am thy child, no hypocrite, no
apostate; and that thou hast heard and wilt hear me evermore.
1. What we are to understand by "the depths." Great misery and
2. How men get into "the depths." By sin and unbelief.
3. What gracious souls do when in "the depths." Cry unto the
4. How the Lord lifts praying souls out of "the depths"; "He
shall redeem, "etc., Ps 130:8. --W. H. J. P.
1. In the pit.
2. The morning star seen: "Thee, O Lord."
3. Prayer flutters up "out of the depths." --W. B. H.
1. The depths from which prayer may rise.
a) Of affliction.
b) Of conviction.
c) Of desertion.
2. The height to which it may ascend.
a) To the hearing of God.
b) To a patient hearing. "Hear my voice."
c) To an attentive hearing.
1. We should pray at all times.
2. We should pray that our prayers may be heard.
3. We should pray until we know we are heard.
4. We should pray in faith that when heard we have the thing we
have asked. "That which thou hast prayed to me against the King of Assyria I
have heard." God had heard. That was enough. It was the death of Sennacherib and
the overthrow of his host. --G. R.
Verses 1-2. Consider,
1. The Psalmist's condition in the light of a warning.
Evidently, through sin, he came into the depths; see Ps 130:3-4. Learn,
a) The need of watchfulness on the part of all.
b) That backsliding will, sooner or later, bring great trouble
2. His sometime continuance in that condition, in the light of
a Divine judgment: "I have cried." Certainly his first cry had not brought
a) The realization of pardon is a Divine work, dependent upon
God's pleasure. Ps 85:8.
b) But he will not always nor often speak pardon at the first
asking; for He will make His people reverence his holiness, feel the bitterness
of sinning, learn caution, etc.
3. His conduct while in that condition in the light of a
a) Seeks deliverance only of God.
b) Is intensely earnest in his application: "I cried."
c) Is inopportunate in his pleading: "Hear my voice, "etc.
Verse 2. Attention from God to us--how to gain it.
1. Let us plead the name which commands attention.
2. Let us ourselves pay attention to God's word.
3. Let us give earnest attention to what we ask, and how we
4. Let us attentively watch for a reply.
Verse 2. Lord, hear my voice.
1. Though it be faint by reason of distance--hear it.
2. Though it be broken because of my distress--hear it.
3. Though it be unworthy on account of my iniquities--hear it.
--W. H. J. P.
1. The supposition: "If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities"
a) It is scriptural.
b) It is reasonable. If God is not indifferent towards men, he
must observe their sins. If he is holy, he must manifest indignation against
sin. If he is the Creator of conscience, he must certainly uphold its verdict
against sin. If he is not wholly on the side of sin, how can he fail to avenge
the mischiefs and miseries sin has caused?
2. The question it suggests: "Who shall stand?" A question,
a) Not difficult to answer.
b) Of solemn import to all.
c) Which ought to be seriously pondered without delay.
3. The possibility it hints at. "If thou, Lord." The "if" hints
at the possibility that God may not mark sin. The possibility,
a) Is reasonable, providing it can be without damage to God's
righteousness; for the Creator and Preserver of men cannot delight in condemning
b) Is a God honouring reality, through the blood of Christ, Ro
c) Becomes a glorious certainty in the experience of penitent
and believing souls. --J. F.
1. The Confession. He could not stand.
2. The Confidence. "There is forgiveness."
3. The Consequence. "That thou mayest be feared."
1. The fearful supposition.
2. The solemn interrogation.
3. The Divine consolation. --W. J.
Verse 4. Forgiveness with God.
1. The proofs of it.
a) Divine declarations.
b) Invitations and promises, Isa 1:18.
c) The bestowment of pardon so effectually as to give assurance
and joy. 2Sa 12:13 Ps 32:5 Lu 7:47-8. 1Jo 2:12.
2. The reason of it.
a) In God's nature there is the desire to forgive; the gift of
Christ is sufficient evidence for it.
b) But, the text speaks not so much of a desire as it asserts
the existence of a forgiveness being "with" God, therefore ready to be
dispensed. The blood of Christ is the reason (Col 1:14); by it the disposition
to forgive righteously manifests itself in the forgiving act: Ro 3:25-26.
c) Hence, forgiveness for all who believe is sure: Ro 3:25 1Jo
3. The result of its realization: "That thou mayest be feared":
with a reverential fear, and spiritual worship.
a) The possibility of forgiveness begets in an anxious soul
true penitence, as opposed to terror and despair.
b) The hope of receiving it begets earnest seeking and
c) A believing reception of it gives peace and rest, and,
exciting grateful love, leads to spiritual worship and filial service. --J.
Verse 4. There is forgiveness.
1. It is needed.
2. God alone can give it.
3. It may be had.
4. We may know that we have it.
1. A most cheering announcement: "There is forgiveness with
a) A fact certain.
b) A fact in the present tense.
c) A fact which arises out of God himself.
d) A fact stated in general terms.
e) A fact to be meditated upon with delight.
2. A most admirable design: "That thou mayest be feared."
a) Very contrary to the abuse made of it by rebels, triflers,
b) Very different from the pretended fears of legalists.
c) No pardon, no fear of God--devils, reprobates.
d) No pardon, none survive to fear him.
e) But the means of pardon encourage faith, repentance, prayer;
and the receipt of pardon creates love, suggests obedience, inflames zeal.
Verse 4. See "Spurgeon's Sermons", No. 351: "Plenteous
Verse 4. Tender Light.
1. The Angel by the Throne: "Forgiveness with Thee."
2. The shadow that enhances his sweet majesty: "If", "But."
3. The homage resultant from his ministry; universal from
highest to least. --W.B. H.
Verses 5-6. Three postures: Waiting, Hoping, Watching.
1. The seeking sinner.
2. The Christian mourner.
3. The loving intercessor.
4. The spiritual labourer.
5. The dying believer. --W. J.
1. We are to wait on God.
a) By faith: "In his word do I hope."
b) By prayer. Prayer can wait when it has a promise to rest
2. We are to wait for God: "I wait for the Lord." "My soul
waiteth for the Lord more", etc.
a) Because he has his own time for giving.
b) Because what he gives is worth waiting for. --G. R.
Verse 6. More than they.
1. For the darker sorrow his absence causes.
2. For the richer splendour Iris coming must bring.
3. For the greater might of our indwelling love. --W. B.
1. A long, dark night: The Lord absent.
2. An eager, hopeful watcher: Waiting the Lord's return.
3. A bright, blessed morning: The time of the Lord's appearing.
--W. H. J. P.
Verse 7. Redeeming grace the sole hope of the holiest.
--W. B. H.
1. A divine exhortation: "Let Israel hope in the LORD."
2. A spiritual reason: "For with the LORD there is mercy", etc.
3. A gracious promise: "He shall redeem Israel from, all his
iniquities." --J. C. Philpot.
Verses 7-8. It is our wisdom to have personal dealings with
1. The first exercise of faith must be upon the Lord himself.
This is the natural order, the necessary order, easiest, wisest, and most
profitable order. Begin where all begins.
2. Exercises of faith about other things must still be in
connection with the Lord. Mercy--"with the Lord." Plenteous redemption "with
3. Exercises of faith, whatever their object, must all settle
on him. "He shall redeem", etc.
1. The Redemption: "From all iniquities."
2. The Redeemer: "The Lord." See Tit 2:14.
3. The Redeemed: "Israel." --W. H. J. P.
WORKS UPON THE HUNDRED AND THIRTIETH PSALM
A Treatise concerning the fruitful Sayings of David, The King
and Prophet, in The Seven Penitential Psalms. . . . By the Right Reverend
Father in God Ions Fisher, DD. and Bp. of Rochester. Printed in the Year
1714. This is a reprint in 12mo. of the Black Letter 4to. described on page
114 of Vol. 2. of "The Treasury of David." The work is more curious than
"An Exposition upon some select Psalms of David." . . . Written by
that faithful servant of God M. Robert Rollok. . . . And translated out of Latine
into English by Charles Lumisden . . . Edinborgh . . . 1600, 8vo.
contains a short exposition on Psalm 130.
In "Select Works of Robert Rollock," edited for the Wodrow
Society by William M. Gunn, Esq., Vol. 1 pp. 451-481, there are two expository
Sermons on Psalm 130.
A Exposition On The Hundred And Thirtieth Psalm. Gathered out
of some of the Ancient Fathers and later writers by Alexander Roberts. Bachelor
of Divinity and Preacher of the Word of God at Kings Lind in Norfolk.
David's Tears. By Sir John Hayward, Knight, Doctor of Lawe.
London. Printed by John Bell, 1623. 4to. On Psalms 6, 32, and 130.
The Saints' Comforts. Being the substance of diverse Sermons.
Preached on Psalm 130, the beginning Ps 130:1-5 ...By a Reverend Divine
now with God. Richard Sibbes. London...1638. 18mo. Reprinted in
Vol. 6 of Sibbes' Works, Nichol's edition, 1863.
A Godly and Fruitful Exposition on the 130 Psalme, the
sixth of the Penitentials, in A Sacred Septenarie or, A Godly And Fruitful
Exposition On The Seven Psalms Of Repentance...By Mr. Archibald Symson, late
Pastor of the church at Dalkeeth in Scotland. London... 1638.
In "Meditations And Disquisitions upon The Three last Psalmes
of David. By Sir Richard Baker, Knight"4to. 1639, there is
an Exposition of Psalm 130. It will be found in Higham's reprint 1882 of
Sir R. Baker's Expositions of the Psalms, pp. 257-271.
A Practical Exposition upon Psalm 130; wherein the Nature of
the Forgiveness of Sin is declared; the Truth and Reality of it asserted; and
the case of a Soul Distressed with the Guilt of Sin, and Relieved by a Discovery
of Forgiveness with God, is at large Discoursed By John Owen, D.D., 4to.],
1668, 1669, 1680. There are modern reprints of this Exposition; and it is in
Vol. 6 of Owen's Works, edited by W. H. Goold, 1881.
In "The Whole Works of Robert Leighton, D.D., Archbishop of
Glasgow, 4 vols., 8yD., 1725", there are "Meditations on Psalm 130." Vol. 2. pp.
Forty Five Sermons upon The 130 Psalme. Preached at IRWIN.
By that Eminent Servant of Jesus Christ, Mr. George Hutcheson -- 1678, Minister of the Gospel. Edinburgh,
In "Sermons preached in Christ Church," Brighton, from October,
1877, to July, 1878, by the Rev. James Vaughan, M.A. London, 1878, there
is a Course of Lenten Sermons on the 130th Psalm, entitled "Steps to Heaven."