Recommended Reading: Psalm 89:1–52; 123:1–4; Colossians 1:15–23
Have you ever noticed the boldness of David and of other composers of psalms? They courageously questioned God (see Psalm 89:46) and went so far as to boldly outline for him what in their view he needed to do (see Psalm 123:3). As people well versed in Israel’s history, the songwriters, we might expect, would have kept silent when it came to questioning God’s ways.
However, the psalmists “got away” with what they said because they expressed their feelings with honesty. They knew their own weaknesses and limitations and understood God’s strength and power and majesty. They knew who they were and where they were. But they also knew God.
Here, the songwriter acknowledges his own state as being in “the depths” (Psalm 130:1). Whether this refers to a physical, emotional or spiritual place doesn’t matter. He’s honest enough to recognize his desperate situation and to cry out to God for help. Simply acknowledging our need is the first step down the pathway of redemption.
But what does the songwriter need? He realizes that if God were to keep a record of sin, the psalmist would certainly be lost. With his rhetorical question “Who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3), he anticipates the words of the New Testament: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In almost the same breath as his admission of sinfulness, the songwriter honestly expresses who God is. With God “there is forgiveness … unfailing love … full redemption” (Psalm 130:4,7). Finally, the songwriter acknowledges God’s promise that “he himself will redeem Israel from all their sins” (verse 8).
Perhaps the apostle Paul had the words of Psalm 130 in mind hundreds of years later when he wrote to the church at Colosse, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things” (Colossians 1:19–20).
Because of Christ we can be honest with ourselves: God comes to where we are to redeem who we are because of who he is.