Hebrew Highlights 39 – OUT OF THE DEPTHS
Shalom. This is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
PSA 130:1-8 (A Song of Ascents.) Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let Thine ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications. If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, That Thou mayest 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.
Today I’d like to do something slightly different on Hebrew Highlights. Let’s concentrate on this one Psalm, and look at a number of wonderful words.
Verse 1: Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord.
The Hebrew word for depths is “mima’amakim”. As in English, it can be used to describe the depth of water, a valley, or as in this case, a depth of spiritual need. In a way, the writer is saying to God, “Look how low I’ve sunk. I cannot possibly go any lower. I need you now!
Verse 2: Lord, hear my voice! Let Thine ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications.
Supplications, or “tachanunai” in Hebrew are requests for pardon, or amnesty, or pity. Again the psalmist is asking for the Lord’s immediate attention and hearing.
Verse 3: If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
“Tishmar” is the original word translated here as mark. Literally it means to keep, or save, or guard. In other words, if the Lord kept track of all or our sins, we could not stand.
Verse 4: But there is forgiveness with Thee, That Thou mayest be feared.
As often happens in the Book of Psalms, the writer gets his answers in the middle of his prayer. He remembers and grasps hold of God’s forgiveness. The concept of forgiveness leading to “fear” may seem a little of a paradox. Keep in mind that the word here for “be feared” is “tira”. This is a fear of God which includes awe and respect. Each time the Lord forgives us we need to remember that we deserve to die for our sins, and only by His mercy do we get another chance.
Verse 5: I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.
The word translated “do I hope” is “hochalti”. It implies a waiting for something to happen. In other words, a hope which we expect to be fulfilled.
Verse 6: My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. In Hebrew, the last half of this verse says, “mishomrim laboker shomrim laboker”. It could be translated, “more than the morning watchmen anticipate the coming of the morning. There are two dynamics involved in this verse. First of all, we are absolutely sure the Lord will come, just as morning always does. Secondly, as the morning watchmen, we will be very relieved when He comes with His salvation.
Verse 7: O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption.
Suddenly, the psalmist switches from the personal to the collective, realizing, and reminding us that this redemption is for all of God’s people. The phrase “ki im Adonai HAchesed” actually says For with the Lord is THE mercy. There is no other place or god which can offer this lovingkindness.
Verse 8: And He will redeem Israel From all his iniquities.
By saying “mi kol avonotAV”, or from all HIS sins, instead of “mi kol avonotAM”, or from all THEIR sins, the writer specifies the nation of Israel, as opposed to the people of Israel. In a since, they are one in the same. Yet, by speaking to the nation, the writer has promised that God will forgive national, as well as personal sins.
Sometimes, when we feel that we are calling to God from the very depths of a situation, we find ourselves without words. This is a good time to open the Bible and pray out loud the words given to us by great passages like Psalm 130.
It’s comforting to know that others have been lost in the valley before us, and found a glorious path out. We wait for the Lord, our soul does wait, And in His word do we hope.
Shalom, Shalom, from Jerusalem.