“Out of the Depths”Categories: Sermons
As many of you are aware, a few weeks ago, I took a trip to Texas to work on a project called Timeless. Its goal is to rewrite all 150 psalms so that we can sing them in our worship. On the Saturday morning of that trip, several dozen brethren and I sang through about 20 of the psalm paraphrases that have been written so far.
Many of them were good, but there’s one in particular that I haven’t been able to get out of my head ever since. It’s called “My Soul Waits for the Lord”, and it’s taken from Psalm 130. I’ve been stuck on it partially because the music is so beautiful, but primarily because the thoughts are so powerful. I want to share my meditations with you this morning as we consider what it means to cry to God out of the depths.
The first section of the psalm presents God as A GOD WHO LISTENS. Look at Psalm 130:1-2. These are dark words, brethren. These are the words of somebody who is calling out to God from the depths of uttermost despair. The emotion here is so raw that it should make us a little bit uncomfortable if we understand what it’s saying. And yet, the Holy Spirit inspired this raw, dark, emotional song so that it would be part of the worship of God’s people forever.
There’s an important lesson here for all of us. It tells us that we shouldn’t be afraid of darkness in our song worship. We shouldn’t come in here and only sing about light and joy and happiness because that isn’t true to our walk with God. Sure, hopefully all of us experience light and joy and happiness from time to time, but we also experience suffering and sorrow and heartbreak. We shouldn’t try to hide those things from one another and from God. Instead, we should sing about them together, so that our song worship can spring authentically from our lives.
Second, this psalm should remind us that there are no depths too deep for God. This is true of the depths of physical and mental illness. It’s true of the depths of the trials of life. It’s true even of the depths of sin. In fact, I think this psalm is about sin. It’s the cry of somebody who has wrecked his life so thoroughly that only God can fix it. Even then, no matter what we have done, we cannot go so far that God will refuse to hear us when we cry to Him.
Second, the psalmist shows us that God is A GOD WHO FORGIVES. Consider Psalm 130:3-4. He begins with the darkest thought in a dark psalm: the possibility that God could be a God who marks iniquities. Imagine that. Imagine that the God of heaven and earth is still perfectly holy, perfectly just, but that He is no longer a God of mercy. Instead, He’s looking down from heaven, writing down every sin that every one of us commits, so that when the day comes, He will judge every one of us justly, and He will justly condemn every sinner to eternal torment.
Could you stand up and face a God like that? I know I couldn’t! If all of my sins were exposed to the light of His presence, I could only hang my head in shame. If God were only a God of justice, it would be better for all of us if we never had existed.
Thankfully, though, the word doesn’t tell us that God is justice. It tells us that God is love. He is rich in mercy, and He overflows with forgiveness. Indeed, so great is His desire to forgive us that He sent His Son to die in our place!
If God is only just, there’s no point in serving Him. I know that I’ve already blown it. Why bother? However, because there is forgiveness with Him, it makes sense to fear and honor and worship Him. He is a God of second chances, and I know that if I seek Him, He will give a second chance to me.
Indeed, God’s nature is the source of HOPE FOR US. Let’s continue our reading with Psalm 130:5-6. I think that the entire psalm is beautiful, but in my opinion, this is the most beautiful lyric in the whole thing. Here is this man who is crying out to God from the depths and the darkness of sin, and he is waiting for God more than the watchmen for the morning.
I know we have many veterans in the congregation, and I suspect that just about all of you have had to stand a watch that lasted until morning. In fact, some of you may even have done that in a time of war, when the darkness might conceal enemies who wanted to sneak up and kill all your sleeping friends. In the midst of exhaustion and fear, how anxiously might a watchman long to see the dawn! And yet, the psalmist says, we should long for God even more than that.
However, this longing, this hope in God’s presence, isn’t founded on our wishful thinking. Instead, the text tells us that it is founded on His word. God isn’t merely a God of mercy. He is a God of faithfulness. He has promised to forgive and bless His people, and through thousands of years of Bible history, we see Him doing exactly that, over and over again. Even if we are down at the bottom of the well, even if we have sunk as low as we can possibly go, still we can wait on the Lord. We can wait with hope and expectation because of the promise of His word.
The psalmist concludes by observing that God is the source of HOPE FOR EVERYONE. Let’s read Psalm 130:7-8 together. It’s clear to him not only that he should turn to the Lord from the depth of his sins. He sees that his entire nation should turn to the Lord from the depths of their sins.
In particular, God has three attributes that make Him the source of eternal hope. They are His steadfast love, His plentiful redemption, and His complete forgiveness. All of these attributes are based on the first. “Steadfast love” is a translation of the Hebrew word hesed, which doesn’t have an English equivalent. Hesed is God’s covenant love, a mingling of love and faithfulness. He offers plentiful and complete redemption because those things spring from the depths of His nature.
We’ve been talking a lot this year about evangelism, and when you get right down to it, this is what makes evangelism so important. We have to tell other people about God because there are so many people who so desperately need to know His steadfast love. They’re down in the depths. They’re down in the depths of depression and suffering and sin. They know that they can’t get themselves out, but they don’t know that God can get them out. They’re hopeless, and they’re hopeless because nobody bothered to tell them the truth.
That’s where we come in. Evangelism isn’t for us, so we can boost those attendance numbers and puff ourselves up for doing the Lord’s work. Instead, evangelism is for them. It is for everybody who is hurting and hopeless and doesn’t know where to turn, because everybody can turn to God.