My Soul Waits on the Lord (Psalm 130)

My Soul Waits on the Lord
Psalm 130

With what do you struggle? Past sins you’ve not forgiven yourself for? Addictions with which you struggle? The frustrations that come with aging? Anger? Bitterness toward someone who has done something against you, or still does things against you? Burnout? Death of a loved one you’re finding it hard to accept? Depression? Discouragement?

The effects of divorce? Eating disorders? Envy toward others or jealousy? Fear? Anxiety? Grief or loss? Guilt? Loneliness? Financial troubles? Chronic pain? Feelings of perfectionism that often leave you feeling inadequate when you can’t measure up to your own expectations? Pornography? Prejudices that you know are not right? Self-esteem or self-confidence issues? Stress? Workaholism? Worry?

Job wrote that “man, who is born of woman is short-lived and full of turmoil” (14:1). Is that not one of the most true statements ever found in the whole Bible?

I pray that our “meal” tonight from Psalm 130 will strengthen your spirit regardless of the “turmoil” you might be feeling right now. Let’s look at that psalm…

You will notice that the heading refers to this as a “Song of Ascent.” Scholars suggest that this refers to psalms that were sung by the Jews on the way to the temple in Jerusalem, which was built on Mount Zion so everyone around had to go “up” to get to the temple. If so, imagine what your spirit might feel if you sang such a song on your way to worship this morning or this afternoon? In fact, do you listen to worship songs on the way to worship? It can help get your spirit into a “worshipful” mood.

We divide this psalm into two equal stanzas (Verses 1-4 and verses 5-8) and each stanza is divided into two strophes (Verses 1-2 & 3-4 and verses 5-6 & 7-8).

In the midst of our daily turmoil, let us remember that…

We need to be close to the Lord - verses 1-2:

We often times find ourselves in the “depths,” as the psalmist here notes in verse 1. Psalm 69 is a psalm written by King David and he writes in 69:2: “I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me.” 69:14: “Deliver me from the mire and do not let me sink; May I be delivered from my foes and from the deep waters.” I am not a strong swimmer and the times that I have been white-water rafting and have gone overboard, it is scary. We went two summers ago and the raft was capsized and I went into the water and, at first, I panicked. But then I remembered that I had on a life vest. I think we often feel like we’re drowning in our turmoil and we forget that we are wearing a life vest who is Jesus Christ. The psalmist did not have Jesus Christ. Sometimes he did not feel secure.

But when we are in the depths, we need to “call” to Jehovah God. Notice in verses 1-2 the expressions used for prayer: “I have cried to You, O Lord.” Despite being in the depths, the psalmist at least knew he had a life vest! He cried to the Lord. The NASV does not translate the pronoun but the word “Lord” at the beginning of verse 2 does have the personal pronoun: “my” Lord. The psalmist feel a personal relationship to the God of heaven.

Then in verse 2, he uses a synonym, when he writes: “Hear my voice!” This suggests to me that the psalmist prayed aloud. I don’t know about you; I usually pray silently unless I’m praying in the presence and on the behalf of others. The psalmist wants God to hear his voice. And yet another synonym, “let your ears be attentive!” This is the only time “attentive” is found in the book of Psalms. The word is used in 1 Kings 18:29 when Elijah challenged the 400 prophets of Baal and the writer says that the prophets cried to Baal all day long and “no one paid attention.” That’s sad; to pray to a god who cannot “pay attention.”

In 2 Kings 4:31, you remember when the Shunnamite’s son died, Elisha sent his servant, Gehazi to the boy. Gehazi arrived and laid his staff on the boy’s face but the boy did not give a sound or a “response.” This is the same word “attentive.” Why did he not give a response? The boy was dead. Why didn’t Baal give a response to the prophets in the days of Elijah? Because they were dead; they were not living. That’s what happens when you worship a dead god. There is no response. But we serve a living God!

Whenever I read this expression in the Bible, I can’t help but picture a little child who has been trying to get mom or dad’s attention and, out of exasperation, grasps their parents face in both hands and turns their face to look at the child. Your little boy or little girl is saying, “Pay attention to me!” That’s the expression the psalmist is using here with God: “God, pay attention to me!” Nehemiah prays the same thing in Nehemiah 1:6, 11 and Solomon says the same thing in 2 Chronicles 6:40. God responds to Solomon’s prayer in 7:15 when He tells Solomon if he will humble himself and seek God’s face and turn from his wicked ways, God will hear; He will forgive; He will heal; He will open His eyes and His ears will be “attentive” to the prayers offered in the temple of God.

“Supplication” is defined as “asking or begging in earnestness or humility.” The word is used often in the psalms, eight times.

We desire, when we are in the depths, to be close to the Lord. Why? Because the second strophe reminds us that forgiveness is with the Lord…

If we want God to give attention to our prayers, the first thing we have to have done is get rid of the sin that separates us from God! The psalmist acknowledges in verse 3 that if God “marks” or guards or keeps iniquities, no one is able to stand before Him! There is no forgiveness; there is no confidence; there is no peace if the iniquities are allowed to exist between us and God. This word “iniquity” is found 231 times in the Bible; it is often translated as “wickedness” or “perversity” or “depravity.” It refers to something that is crooked.

But, with God (ver. 4), there is “forgiveness.” This word is only used three times in the Old Testament. It is also used in Daniel’s prayer, in 9:9 and in Nehemiah’s prayer in 9:17. In that passage from Nehemiah, he says that God is a “God of forgiveness.” That is, God is characterized by forgiveness; it is a part of His nature.

Out of the depths of our turmoil, there is forgiveness with the Lord! Then, the end result of getting forgiveness from the Lord is that we fear Him. I don’t know but what this might be the most frequently used verb (in the OT) relative to mankind’s response to God. The verb is used 332 times in the OT! We fear God when we receive forgiveness from Him; we hold Him in deep reverence; we stand in awe of Him! He is willing to remove the perversity that separates us from Him.

In the midst of our daily turmoil, secondly, let us remember that…

Again, this strophe is divided into two stanzas, verses 5-6 and verses 7-8.

In verses 5-6, the psalmist is speaking to himself; in verses 7-8, he is speaking to the nation of Israel.

You see in verses 5-6 that the key word is “wait.” We are most familiar with the passage from Isaiah 40:31: “those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” That same sentiment is being expressed here in psalm 130.

Many of our turmoils we bring on ourselves because we refuse to wait on the Lord. I’m not saying that I do it perfectly, but with years of maturity behind me, I hope I do it more now than I did in my past. When Jewell was looking for a job, I encouraged her to wait on the Lord and let God work. That doesn’t mean we sit down and do nothing. It means that we do what we can, what is within our power and our means, and then we wait for the Lord to work and do what He knows is best.

“I wait for the Lord; my soul waits” (ver. 5). The verb “to wait” is used 42 times in the OT; in the book of Psalms, it is used 14 times; twice in this verse. Notice that waiting on the Lord is equivalent to hoping in His word. “Hope” in verse 5 is used as a synonym for “wait.” The verb “to hope” is also used 42 times in the OT; 18 times in the book of Psalms. This verb is also used twice; here in verse 5 and in verse 7. To “wait” on the Lord is to “hope” in the Lord, confidently expecting Him to exercise His power, in love, to perform what in His wisdom is the best thing for us. In the depths of our turmoil, we need to wait in hope on the Lord. Can you be patient?

Verse 6 is an elaboration of verse 5: “My soul [waits - is added by the translators] for “my” Lord.” Again, “my” is left out of the translation. The psalmist believes the Lord is his Lord, his Master, his Redeemer. The end of verse 6 is repetitious: “more than the watchmen of the morning, the watchmen of the morning.” These watchmen are keeping a look out for invaders, for enemies, for arrows, javelins, whatever might be thrown from the enemy intending to do harm to God’s people. So here, to emphasize how strongly he waits on the Lord, he says he does so more than the defenders wait and watch for the approaching enemy.

How strongly do we wait for the Lord to work? How much of our turmoil could be resolved if we truly did trust in the Lord to resolve problems which were outside of our control?

The psalmist tells his soul - notice that the psalmist talks to himself - he tells his soul to be patient, to wait, to hope in the Lord.

But in the final stanza, the psalmist turns his attention to the whole nation of Israel, to his family and friends. Family, when we have been forgiven through the gospel, we need to share that message with others. When we have been blessed by the God of heaven, we need to share those blessings with others. When we have received peace of mind or strength of heart from our Savior, we need to share that same peace of mind and strength of heart with others. This final stanza, you might say, is evangelistic…

Verse 7 begins with an imperative, a command: “Hope, Israel, in the Lord.” Why does the psalmist encourage Israel to “hope” in the Lord? Because with the Lord there is:

Lovingkindness - also translated steadfast love or loyalty. This is that beautiful OT word that you should have highlighted in your Bible every time you find it. That would be 245 times! With the Lord, there is loyalty; He will never leave us nor forsake us. With the Lord, there is love and kindness or kindness motivated out of love. He is identified closely with this beautiful character trait; He is lovingkindness.

But also, with the Lord, there is redemption but even more than that: “abundant redemption.” The word “abundant” is actually a verb: You have caused to increase redemption.

This word “redemption” is only used four times in the OT. It begins in Exodus 8:23, one of the plagues on Egypt, the swarm of flies, where it is translated “division” between God’s people and the nation of Egypt. In Psalm 111:9, the psalmist says God has “sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name.” Notice we have “redemption” connected here to “covenant” which is closely connected to the loving kindness or loyalty of the Lord.

With the Lord is lovingkindness and with the Lord is abundant redemption, a division, a separation between what is sinful and what is holy. God has the ability to distinguish between what is holy and what is unholy; what is good and what is not good. Abundant redemption is with him.

You know how sometimes a friend of ours will say something a little irreverent and we’ll step back as if God might strike them with a bolt of lightning? I did that one time with a friend of mine and he asked, “What, you don’t trust God’s aim?” God has the ability to distinguish between what is good and what is not good. We have to trust Him. Lovingkindness and abundant redemption are with Him.

Finally, the psalmist tells Israel to hope in the Lord because He will redeem Israel from all its iniquities. Notice that the redemption here is not in terms of slavery in Egypt or in Babylon, but slavery to sin. Verse 8 is emphatic: “He Himself will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.” This is the verb form of the noun in verse 7. God will redeem Israel. Again, the first time the verb is used in the Bible is in the exodus out of Egypt, in Exodus 13:13, 15. In Exodus 34, we learn that lambs were sacrificed as a “redemption” for Israel.

Here, the psalmist concludes his psalm, speaking out of the depths of turmoil, saying that God can redeem, not from slavery in Egypt, but from iniquities.

You know, knowing that our sins are forgiven is not a “cure” for everything that afflicts us, but it sure goes a long way to helping us feel better and more confident about God helping us get through those things that do trouble us.

Take home message: In the depths of our turmoil, let us be reminded that we have forgiveness in the Lord and there is abundant lovingkindness and redemption from sins in the Lord.


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