(Psalm 130) “Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications. If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption. And He will redeem Israel From all his iniquities.”
As believers in our Lord Jesus there will be times, if we are honest, when it seems we are passing through a deep and dark valley and it seems that God is not present with us even though we know from His Word that He has said He will never leave us for forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Sometimes the desires of our hearts and our prayers seem to go unanswered and it seems that nothing is happening in the natural realm and things remain the same no matter how hard or consistently we pray. When you read the psalms, especially the psalms of David, you see a man of God who experienced the full gamut of an emotional, mental, physical and spiritual ‘roller-coaster’ ride. One minute he could praise God to the hilt with unbridled passion and exuberance yet at other times he plunged into the very depths of despair itself and had only the Lord to lean upon for spiritual, mental, emotional and even physical succour.
No other book, with the possible exception of the Book of Job, in the entire Bible expresses the length, the breadth and the depth of the inner struggle of the saint of God as the Book of Psalms. Down through the centuries dear tried and tested saints of God have found the Psalms to be of great comfort in quietening the surging emotions and anxious thoughts that toss the soul of the saint as a ship is tossed on a stormy sea. At such times for these tried and troubled saints God’s Word was the compass that steered the ship of their lives through the dark stormy sea of affliction to its desired haven of security and safety. There will be times when we must walk alone, even though we are never alone because God is with us if we are living moment by moment by faith in Him every day and relying upon the Holy Spirit to strengthen us in that walk.
There are things we wrestle with internally that we can share with no one else but with God alone. The things we wrestle with can only be assuaged by the blessed Holy Spirit and not by man. While we have other fellow believers or even loved ones to encourage us there will be times in our spiritual walk with the Lord when we pass through experiences, situations and troubled thoughts and surging emotions that we can only bring to the Lord. This was the experience of the Psalmist. Here in psalm 130 we have a psalm titled “A Song of Ascents” which focuses on a believer who is passing through a very dark place where the only recourse is to keep trusting in the Lord. And so he writes…
(Vs. 1-2) “Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications.”
There will be times in our walk with the Lord when God allows storms in our lives and He allows these to drive us deeper into our relationship with Him that we might know His enabling and sustaining power in the storm and so that we might comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. As the apostle Paul writes; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
In Psalm 42:7 we are told that “deep calls to deep.” God will always respond to the prayer of faith but He always responds in His time and in His way (Hebrews 11:6) (James 5:16). Sometimes He will say “no” and at other times say “yes” and at other times say “wait.” His delays do not mean that He does not care for us but that when He does answer according to His good, acceptable and perfect will, in the end it will turn out much better than anything we could even imagine or think or even dare to ask for (Ephesians 3:20). Waiting on God takes time but in the end saves time. God is never too early but also never too late but always on time.
Did not tried and tested Job say; “When He is at work in the north, I cannot behold Him; when He turns to the south, I cannot see Him. Yet He knows the way I have taken; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have followed in His tracks; I have kept His way without turning aside” (Job 23:9-11). It is only in times of stress and anxiety that we learn to trust in the Lord and not to lean on our own understanding but in that situation acknowledge Him in all of our ways and He will lead our feet on a level path (Proverbs 3:6). King David learnt to lean upon the Lord as all of us must do when passing through the deepest and darkest valley which can be the dark night of the soul but the secret place where the dear saint of God is sanctified and made fit for the master’s use.
God is always attentive to the cry of His blood purchased, blood washed saints who cry out to Him day and night in their extremity when under spiritual attack from the adversary of the human soul. Will, He (God) not avenge His elect? Yes, He will avenge then speedily! (Luke 18:7-8) God also tells us in his Word to cast all of our anxiety on to Him and that He will sustain us and never permit His righteous ones to be moved away through doubt and unbelief. As it is written; “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22). This casting is to be a continual casting of our anxieties onto Him. All of us have different levels of anxiety and what makes me anxious may not be the same for you but in all of our anxieties we are to keep casting them on Him by faith and keep His promises before our eyes because He cares for us.
Did not the apostle Peter write; “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting (continuously) all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:6-11).
Today in this COVID-19 stricken world anxiety lies at the door of multitudes of people in the world and believers in the Lord Jesus are not exempt from this. Not only do they have to contend with the anxiety but also with the spiritual powers of wicked spirit beings in the unseen spiritual realm that war against the souls of the saints. When our backs are to the wall who do we turn to at such times? Thank the Lord for our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus and fellowship in the Holy Spirit around the Word of God that will strengthen the brothers and sisters spiritually.
Having said this there will be times when we must stand alone against the wiles of the world, the flesh and the devil and the dark thoughts that assail the soul of the saint seeking to do the will of God. We will not be able to sit in the circle of the merrymakers because the hand of the Lord will be resting heavily upon us (Jeremiah 15:17). At such times we will experience spiritual, emotional, mental and even physical exhaustion and even a sense of despair but at such times the blessed Holy Spirit will sustain us even when we are struggling to believe that what God has said in His Word will come to pass. Praying in the Holy Spirit will strengthen and build us up in our most holy faith by giving us the capacity to believe that God will respond (Jude 1:20). God is always pleased with faith in Him and rewards faith (Hebrews 11:6). And then we read…
(Vs.3-4) “If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.”
In times of distress or anxiety or when things in the natural do not seem to change or when we are afflicted with a physical ailment that God has not healed or a situation in our relationships with others that seem unsolvable, at such times the accuser of the brethren, who relentlessly accuses the saints before God day and night without letup, will bring before our eyes our past sins and failures and get us to focus on the spiritual deficiencies we know are within our fallen human nature that are constantly at war with the Spirit of God within us (Galatians 5:16-18). At such times we need to know that all of our sins are forgiven and removed from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). I believe it was martin Luther who at one time when Satan came to him and listed all of his sins before Luther that he said to Satan that he would add more to the list and in effect ran the devil out of his affairs. They also say that there were ink stains on the wall of the rather small room where Luther was translating the Bible into the language of the common people, and these stains were caused by Luther hurling the ink well at the devil that often plagued him when he was writing.
At such times when Satan is accusing us we need to know what God has said. King David writes about this in Psalm 103. The literal Hebrew text of verses 3-5 reads this way in the present continuous sense… “Who is forgiving all my sins, and healing all my diseases; He is redeeming my life from the pit and crowning me with love and compassion. He is satisfying my desires with good things so that my youth is being renewed like the eagles.” Sometimes heaviness of spirit will be Satanic oppression but sometimes due to unconfessed or harboured sin and we need to bring this into the light and when we do the atoning blood of his dear Son is available to cleanse us from it and His Spirit deep down on the inside of us to deliver us from its power and enable us to overcome it (1 John 1:9) (Hebrews 9:14).
As Paul writes; “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide an escape, so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). And then the psalmist goes on to write…
(Vs.5-8) “I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption. And He will redeem Israel From all his iniquities.”
Waiting on the Lord does not mean inactivity, but living in the context of prayer and that being as natural as breathing in and out. Added to this waiting we must keep before our eyes God’s Word which will say the same thing tomorrow as it does today because His Word is settled forever in heaven and He honours his Word even above His name (Psalm 119:89) (Psalm 138:2). He can do anything His Word says He can do for with God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). His Word is His bond and He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).
The watchman of a city in ancient times kept awake during the night until the morning sun rose. The enemy might sneak up in the night so the watchman would watch and give the alarm if this happened. Waiting in expectation for God to act requires spiritual watchfulness knowing that when things seem dark for us spiritually that at such times Satan will seek to make a surprise attack to disable us spiritually. We are to stay spiritually sober and be watchful according to God’s Word. We are to watch and wait with expectant faith more than a city watchman would stay on the alert. Added to this we must have hope, not “I hope so” but a certainty that God will come to our aid when the need arises. His timing is perfect and we will grow in our spiritual walk and in our confidence in His benevolence towards us as His blood justified, blood redeemed and blood washed children.
Not only is the Lord filled with lovingkindness but with abundant redemption. When we confess and forsake what we know to be displeasing to God calling on the blessed Holy Spirit to enable us to turn away from it, God bestows His unmerited favour and pardon upon us and that in abundance (Isaiah 55:6-7). He is not stingy with His forgiveness but delights to pardon sin when it comes to having mercy on a sinner who truly repents of their wrongdoing in his sight. At the end of this short Psalm we are told that Israel as a nation will be ultimately redeemed from all of their sins, from its power, its penalty and its very presence.
When the Lord Jesus comes back every Jewish person still alive on earth and living in Israel will see Him whom they have pierced with their sins and mourn for Him with tears of repentance, strong affection and with unbridled joy (Zechariah 12:10-14). We also in that day will be delivered from the very presence of sin itself in us and with our immortal, glorified bodies co-reign on the earth with our Lord Jesus the Messiah (Revelation 5:10). As the beloved apostle John writes; “Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when the Messiah appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as the Messiah Himself is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).
With these things in view let us take to heart the words of King David; “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken”