Psalms of Ascent: 130

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

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

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

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


Psalm 130 preaches us the gospel in a very straightforward way. We are hopelessly lost in the depths of sin so we call out to the Lord (v 1-2). If he kept a record of all the things we’ve ever done, none of us would be able to stand before him and we would receive no help. We all fall short. But because of his mercy, he rescues us and we find life and hope in him (v 3-6). Our hope is so great that we invite everyone to participate in God’s grace with us (v 7-8).

Psalm 130 echoes the pattern of repentance found throughout the whole Bible: Realize I’m a sinner, turn to God for forgiveness in faith, receive life and freedom, and share it with those around me. The Israelites would recite this pattern through this psalm three times a year on their journeys to Jerusalem, showing us the importance of repenting often. The rest of this devotional is going to be a little more interactive than most weeks. I invite you to personalize this model of repentance.

In the book of Jonah, in chapter 2, the prophet prays what  feels like an expansion on Psalm 130, but personalized for his own situation. I encourage you to read Jonah 2 if you can. He models for us how to pray through this psalm in a meaningful way.

Try writing out a prayer like this for your own life, adding details that make it personal. Be honest about your emotions and the specific sins you’re struggling with. Ask for forgiveness and praise God for his mercy. Instead of asking Israel to sing along with you, write down the names of some people in your life with whom you could share the hope of Jesus. Your prayer could look something like this example:

Lord, I’m not in a good place this week. I’m feeling anxious and lonely. My family is not doing well. I'm suffering and I need relief. Send your mercy. I know that I don’t deserve your grace because of my sin. I’m having a hard time loving some of the people in my life and in my community. I've been quick to anger and gossip. I have sinned against you and my neighbor for the things I have done and the things I have left undone. I humbly repent and ask for your forgiveness. I know that you are quick to forgive, and through your son Jesus I have been redeemed from all my sins. Thank you for your grace. The whole world needs to hear this wonderful news of forgiveness. I ask that you help me show the hope and love of Jesus to my next door neighbor, Fred, who does not believe. Give me the strength and wisdom to love him like you do.

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