My Sermon on Psalm 130

Recently I’ve been doing pulpit fill for the church I’m attending (First Baptist Church, Glendora). This past Sunday I preached from the book of Psalms, chapter 130.

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

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?

But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.

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

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

A wonderful and gospel filled psalm. Here are the sermon notes I used to expound on this amazing passage.

Suppose for a moment that somehow we could implant in your mind a memory chip that would record your thoughts, intentions, words and deeds for a single day, and then we took all that was recorded for that day and made a movie out of it. Then suppose that we took that movie to the theater and invited all your family – husband or wife, children and even grandchildren, your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, even many of your acquaintances. So now we have a packed house and their going to watch the debut of “The Life of You.” Knowing what you know about yourself, would you go through this process and show the movie? What do you think they would see? How do you think they would respond?

I dare say for myself I would not want to expose myself in this way because I know what Jesus has said about my heart – that from it flow all kinds of evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. I also know that what God said of men in the days of Noah is still true today – The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

From these passages I know the real condition of my heart. I know the depth of darkness that my heart can produce and it would be a great shame to myself, my family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances if all my sin was revealed to them. Even to think about it now causes me to shutter.

As we come to Psalm 130, we come to an amazing Psalm. It’s amazing because it not only confronts us with our greatest need, but reveals to us the very solution to our ailment. In the words of the psalmist are not found pious platitudes, philosophical reasoning, psychological pandering, or shallow cliques. But like a skilled physician he has identified the problem and provided a cure. He gives us both the bad news and the good news. He speaks of death and life.

We can consider this psalm in three parts – The Plea, The Promise, and The Proclamation.

Let’s look at

The Plea – 1-3

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

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?

Can you hear the cry of despair? Can you hear the tone of desperation? Out of the depths I cry to you. This is imagery of one who has been caught in the dangerous and deep waters. The same sentiment can be found in Psalm 69:1-2

Save me O, God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.

His cry is for the Lord and his desire is to be heard. His plea is for mercy, but to what end. Is he suffering some kind of trial like that of Job who was laid with the burden of losing his children, his property and his health all in a matter of days? Is he under the duress of being sold into slavery like Joseph to be carted off to a strange land? What seems to be pressing him into despair? I think verse 3 makes this clear for us – he was in despair over his sin, his iniquities, and he rightly speaks the truth – should God record every one of our sins who could stand? He has become aware of man’s greatest need, his greatest problem in this life.

The evidence was stacked against him. Sin had put him in debt. He was under the sentence of a curse and condemnation. He found himself in a ditch, a pit from which there was no escape. Sin had brought him to a place of spiritual poverty, to bondage, to a state of helplessness and hopelessness undeserving of the favor of God, but deserving God’s wrath and displeasure.

Here’s a reality that confronts all of mankind – the problem is that most are unaware of their sin. Oh, you could ask anyone on the street and they would all admit that no one is perfect, that no one is sin free, and yet those same people would all admit that they are good people. They have closed their eyes to their faults, to their rebellion, to their wicked ways. They have hidden them in secret places, cloaked in darkness.

Suppose we were to consider the best saint on this earth, whoever that may be, even they could not stand before the justice of God if their sins were counted against them. So then no man, woman or child has any hope – everyone’s transgressions have been recorded, all stored on computers with redundant backup in the cloud, probably on Amazon’s Glacier storage and will be brought to light on the day of the Great White Throne judgment – even the secret sins, the sins long forgotten, the sins lost to time – all will be revealed on that day and no one could stand. No one will be able to make a case before the judge. No one will escape – or will they?

The cry of the psalmist does not end with despair, but with hope as he pleas for the Lord’s mercy he speaks of promise.

The Promise – 4-6

But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.

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

But with you there is forgiveness, but with you there is forgiveness. Are there any sweeter words then these in all the scriptures?

Spurgeon says that “it is a soft and gentle whisper from the lips of Love”

From despair to promise is hinged on the single conjunction – you know what a conjunction is right? We all remember the School House Rock song – conjunction junction what’s your function – it joins together clauses and phrases. In this case it acts as a hinge between the woe of “who could stand” and the hope of “with you there is forgiveness”

The sweet music of this single word is repeated in several key passages much like this one.

Romans 3:20-22

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe…

Ephesians 2:1-5

And you were dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…

But with you there is forgiveness

The great pastor James Montgomery Boice has rightly said that this statement should be written down and remembered and reflected upon often – our God is a forgiving God!

Moses knew this. God revealed to him after the great sin of the golden calf  – The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin (Exodus 34:6-7)

This resounding word of hope is so glorious I would love to dwell here and bask in the rays of the warm sun as it breaks through the gloom of a rainy day.

But before we move on let me just note for you a couple of items regarding God’s forgiveness.

God’s forgiveness is not arbitrary – there are many who believe in a forgiving God and that God is going to allow them to live any life they want to live, but when they stand before him on the day of their judgment he’s going to be like an old doting grandfather who simply dishes out forgiveness like candy. But forgiveness can only come to the soul that first confesses sin. It is only when we have bowed the knee to God, acknowledge our sins, transgressions, and rebellion; when our heart is heavy and our soul is full of anguish that we can find comfort in the sweet words – But there is forgiveness.

There is another way that God’s forgiveness is not arbitrary – he cannot forgive sins by putting aside his justice. If he did so then he would no longer be just himself and then no longer God. No a price had to be paid for the sins committed. The bible says that the wages of sin is death. And it also says that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. So Jesus Christ came into this world lived a holy and perfect life and then went to the cross in our place taking on for himself the punishment, the full wrath of God, dying in our place so that God might remain just and also provide a way for our forgiveness.

God’s forgiveness is unlimited – There is no sin that is not included in these precious words. Murder, adultery, lying, stealing, coveting, envy, gossip, slander. There is forgiveness with God. David was a murderer and adulterer, Paul was a murderer and the chief of sinners, the thief on the cross was, well a thief, all of these men were forgiven their sins and found forgiveness with God.

God’s forgiveness is present tense – The passage says “there is forgiveness” not there will be forgiveness. It’s for this moment. It’s for now, where you sit, just as you are, or as the song goes

Just as I am, without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

God’s forgiveness leads to godly living – notice what the psalmist says here – But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared – that you may be feared – this is a reverent awe-filled, holy fear – or as Spurgeon has put it “There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be loved and worshiped and served.”

This promise of forgiveness is for now, but there is an element that is for the age to come that is why the psalmist continues with these words:

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

There is a waiting. There is a waiting that longs for the dawn to arise like the watchman on the wall. It is a longing that is only fulfilled on the day when we come into the presence of our Lord. For those who are in Christ it will be a glorious day, a day when the realization of our full pardon will be received as we are no longer have the presence of sin in our lives.

But notice where the psalmist turns our attention in this intervening time – not to an experience we had when we felt the forgiveness of God come into our lives, not to absolution that comes from penance, nor does he have us look into ourselves for evidence of God’s forgiveness. He turns us to the sure, present and abiding word of God as our hope. He points us to the promises that God has revealed in his word and he calls us to put our faith in the God of those promises. Our confidence, our hope, our trust is in God’s Word and the one who has been revealed in that word as our only savior – namely Jesus Christ.

We have seen the plea and the promise, we come no to the proclamation

The Proclamation – 7-8

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

Here the psalmist is spreading the joy of his discovery. He has found forgiveness in God and he desires that all would follow in the same way. He is calling all men to find forgiveness in God. That my friends is the call of all the children of God. All who have found themselves faced with the depravity of their own heart and have found forgiveness in Jesus Christ will shout this good news from the mountain tops.

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