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Bible Commentaries

Clarke's Commentary

Psalms 130

Verse 1

The prayer of a penitent to God, with confession of sin, 1-3.

Confidence in God's mercy, and waiting upon him, 4-6.

Israel is encouraged to hope in the Lord, because of his

willingness to save, 7, 8.


This Psalm has no title nor author's name, either in the Hebrew, or in any of the Versions; though the Syriac says it was spoken of Nehemiah the priest. It was most probably composed during the captivity; and contains the complaint of the afflicted Jews, with their hopes of the remission of those sins which were the cause of their sufferings, and their restoration from captivity to their own land. This is one of those called penitential Psalms.

Verse Psalms 130:1. Out of the depths — The captives in Babylon represent their condition like those who are in a prison-an abyss or deep ditch, ready to be swallowed up.

Verse 2

Verse Psalms 130:2. Lord, hear my voice — They could have no helper but God, and to him they earnestly seek for relief.

Verse 3

Verse Psalms 130:3. If thou - shouldest mark iniquities — If thou shouldst set down every deviation in thought, word, and deed from thy holy law; and if thou shouldst call us into judgment for all our infidelities, both of heart and life; O Lord, who could stand? Who could stand such a trial, and who could stand acquitted in the judgment? This is a most solemn saying; and if we had not the doctrine that is in the next verse, who could be saved?

Verse 4

Verse Psalms 130:4. But there is forgiveness with thee — Thou canst forgive; mercy belongs to thee, as well as judgment. The doctrine here is the doctrine of St. John: "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord hath spoken!" Jesus has died for our sins; therefore God can be just, and yet the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.

Verse 5

Verse Psalms 130:5. I wait for the Lord — The word קוה kavah, which we translate to wait, properly signifies the extension of a cord from one point to another. This is a fine metaphor: God is one point, the human heart is the other; and the extended cord between both is the earnest believing desire of the soul. This desire, strongly extended from the heart to God, in every mean of grace, and when there is none, is the active, energetic waiting which God requires, and which will be successful.

Verse 6

Verse Psalms 130:6. More than they that watch for the morning. — I believe the original should be read differently from what it is here. The Chaldee has, "More than they who observe the morning watches, that they may offer the morning oblation." This gives a good sense, and is, perhaps, the true meaning. Most of the Versions have "From the morning to the night watches." Or the passage may be rendered, "My soul waiteth for the Lord from the morning watches to the morning watches." That is, "I wait both day and night."

Verse 7

Verse Psalms 130:7. Let Israel hope in the Lord — This, to hope for salvation, is their duty and their interest. But what reason is there for this hope? A twofold reason:-

1. With the Lord there is mercyהחסד hachesed, THAT mercy, the fund, the essence of mercy.

2. And with him is plenteous redemption.והרבה עמו פדות veharabbah immo peduth; and that abundant redemption, that to which there is none like, the Fountain of redemption, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. The article ה, both in הרבה harabbah and החסד hachesed, is very emphatic.

Verse 8

Verse Psalms 130:8. He shall redeem IsraelΚαι αυτος υτρωσει, "He will make a ransom for Israel," He will provide a great price for Israel, and by it will take away all his iniquities. I would not restrict this to Israel in Babylon. Every believer may take it to himself. God perfectly justifies and perfectly sanctifies all that come unto him through the Son of his love.

In this Psalm the Spirit of God proposes to us the case of a person oppressed with the wrath of God against sin, yet flying to him for comfort, remission, and purification.

I. Acknowledging his miserable condition, he prays to be heard, Psalms 130:1-2.

II. He desires remission of sin, Psalms 130:3-4.

III. He expresses his hope and confidence, Psalms 130:5-6.

IV. He exhorts God's people to trust in him, Psalms 130:7-8.

I. The psalmist likens himself to a man in the bottom of a pit: -

1. "Out of the depths have I cried," c. A true penitent cries out of the depth of his misery, and from the depth of a heart sensible of it.

2. "Lord, hear my voice." Although I be so low, thou canst hear me.

3. "Let thine ears be attentive," c. Or I cry in vain.

II. But there was a reason why God should not hear. He was a grievous sinner but all men are the same therefore,

1. "If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquity." And I have nothing of my own but it to bring before thee, yet execute not thy just anger on account of my transgressions; for,

2. "There is mercy with thee," c. True repentance requires two things, the recognition of our own misery and the persuasion of God's mercy. Both are needful for if we know not the former, we shall not seek mercy; and if we despair of mercy, we shall never find it.

3. "That thou mayest be feared." Not with a servile but a filial fear, which involves prayer, faith, hope, love, adoration, giving of thanks, c. This fear leads to God's throne as a merciful and pardoning God.

III. The method of God's servants in their addresses to heaven is, that they believe, hope, pray, and expect. Thus did the psalmist.

1. "I expect the Lord." In faith.

2. "My soul doth wait." His expectation was active and real, and proceeded from fervency of heart.

3. His expectation was not presumptive, but grounded upon God's word and promise: "In his word is my hope."

4. "My soul waiteth for the Lord." Which he illustrates by the similitude of a watchman who longs for the morning.

5. "I wait for the Lord more than they," c. It was now night with him, darkness and misery were upon his soul the morning he expected was the remission of his sins, which must come from God's mercy. For this he eagerly waited.

IV. He proposes his own example to God's people: -

1. "Let Israel hope in the Lord," like me, and cry from the depths.

2. "For with the Lord there is mercy." This is the reason and encouragement for the hope. Mercy flows from him.

3. "And with him is redemption." Which we need, being all sold under sin and this redemption was purchased for us by the death of his Son.

4. And this redemption is plentiful; for by it he has redeemed the whole world, 1 John 1:2.

5. And this is to take effect upon Israel: "For he shall redeem Israel," c. It is not, as the Jews expected, a temporal redemption, but a spiritual, as the angel told Joseph: "His name shall be called Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins."

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 130". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/psalms-130.html. 1832.