Psalm 130: Our Redeemer

If there is one thing we all share, it’s trouble. My Jewish friends often use the Yiddish word tsuris. I remember one day in 2010 that dumped a tremendous amount of tsuris on me. I learned I had cancer. At that moment, I felt scared, depressed, and alone.

The only book I brought with me to the hospital was my Bible. During those difficult months, God’s Word was my lifeline, especially the Psalms. Psalm 130 appeared to be written by someone who was hurting, just like me.

The psalmist was going up to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. His circumstances were anything but perfect, but he worshiped and praised God anyway: “Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lᴏʀᴅ; Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications” (vv. 1–2).

Obviously distressed, he cried out in anguish, depression, and probably fear. I could identify with that.

Often, when we go through difficult times, it seems that God is far away. Actually, He is right there with us: “The Lᴏʀᴅ your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Dt. 31:6; cf. Heb. 13:5).

The psalmist continued, “If You, Lᴏʀᴅ, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared” (Ps. 130:3–4). Difficult times are not always the result of our personal sin. Grief, woe, and fear stem from humanity’s rebellion against God, but they do not prevent God from ministering to us: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).

Corrie ten Boom, a devout Christian, suffered in a concentration camp during World War II. Yet she was able to say, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

The Lord is with us in all of life’s struggles. That is why the psalmist could say, “I wait for the Lᴏʀᴅ, my soul waits, and in His Word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning” (Ps. 130:5–6).

In the hospital, the nights were the worst. I felt the sickest then. Sleep was impossible. I longed for morning because it meant the Lord had gotten me through another 24 hours.

Like the psalmist, I was trusting in the truth of God’s Word. To him, that probably was the Torah (Law), which promised God’s protection of His people and His land. Psalm 130 seems to address Israel’s precarious position, which has not changed much. It still struggles against seemingly impossible odds that only God can overcome: “O Israel, hope in the Lᴏʀᴅ; for with the Lᴏʀᴅ there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities” (vv. 7–8).

Both physical and spiritual redemption are involved here. Physical redemption involves the destruction of Israel’s enemies. Spiritual redemption involves forgiveness for “all his [Israel’s] iniquities.”

Iniquity separates us from God. He cannot have a relationship with sinners unless blood temporarily covers or permanently removes their sin: “It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11).

Behold, the Lᴏʀᴅ’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear (Isa. 59:1–2).

Ultimately, God will deliver Israel physically from its worst enemy: Satan. Then He will deliver Israel spiritually:

And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn (Zech. 12:10).

I thank the Lord that, for the moment, He has delivered me from cancer. I thank Him more that He has delivered me once and for all “from the power of darkness” and transferred me into the “kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13). Someday He will deliver me permanently; and, as King David said, “I will dwell in the house of the Lᴏʀᴅ forever” (Ps. 23:6). And there will be no tsuris there!

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