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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

Psalms 130

De Profundis

Luther, being once asked which were the best Psalms, replied, Psalmi Paulini ; and when his companions at table pressed him to say which these were, he answered: Psalms 32:1-11; Ps 51; Psalms 130:1-8, and Psalms 143:1-12. In fact in Psalms 130:1-8 the condemnability of the natural man, the freeness of mercy, and the spiritual nature of redemption are expressed in a manner thoroughly Pauline. It is the sixth among the seven Psalmi poenitentiales (Psalms 6:1-10, Psalms 32:1-11, Ps 38, Ps 51, Ps 102, Psalms 130:1-8, Psalms 143:1-12).

Even the chronicler had this Psalm before him in the present classification, which puts it near to Ps 132; for the independent addition with which he enriches Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the Temple, 2 Chronicles 6:40-42, is compiled out of passages of Psalms 130:1-8 (Psalms 130:2, cf. the divine response, 2 Chronicles 7:15) and Ps 132 (Psalms 132:8, Psalms 132:16, Psalms 132:10).

The mutual relation of Psalms 130:1-8 to Ps 86 has been already noticed there. The two Psalms are first attempts at adding a third, Adonajic style to the Jehovic and Elohimic Psalm-style. There Adonaj is repeated seven times, and three times in this Psalm. There are also other indications that the writer of Psalms 130:1-8 was acquainted with that Ps 86 (compare Psalms 130:2, שׁמעה בקולי , with Psalms 86:6, והקשׁיבה בּקול ; Psalms 130:2, לקול תּחנוּני , with Psalms 86:6, בּקול תּחנוּנותי ; Psalms 130:4, עמּך הסּליחה , with Psalms 86:5, וסלּח ; Psalms 130:8, &החסד עם ה הח , with Psalms 86:5, Psalms 86:15, רב־חסד ). The fact that קשּׁוּב (after the form שׁכּוּל ), occurs besides only in those dependent passages of the chronicler, and קשּׁב only in Nehemiah 1:6, Nehemiah 1:11, as סליחה besides only in Daniel 9:9; Nehemiah 9:17, brings our Psalm down into a later period of the language; and moreover Ps 86 is not Davidic.

Verses 1-4

The depths ( מעמקּים ) are not the depths of the soul, but the deep outward and inward distress in which the poet is sunk as in deep waters (Psalms 69:3, Psalms 69:15). Out of these depths he cries to the God of salvation, and importunately prays Him who rules all things and can do all things to grant him a compliant hearing ( שׁמע בּ , Genesis 21:12; Genesis 26:13; Genesis 30:6, and other passages). God heard indeed even in Himself, as being the omniscient One, the softest and most secret as well as the loudest utterance; but, as Hilary observes, fides officium suum exsequitur, ut Dei auditionem roget, ut qui per naturam suam audit per orantis precem dignetur audire . In this sense the poet prays that His ears may be turned קשּׁבות (duller collateral form of קשּׁב , to be in the condition of arrectae aures ), with strained attention, to his loud and urgent petition (Psalms 28:2). His life hangs upon the thread of the divine compassion. If God preserves iniquities, who can stand before Him?! He preserves them ( שׁמר ) when He puts them down to one (Psalms 32:2) and keeps them in remembrance (Genesis 37:11), or, as it is figuratively expressed in Job 14:17, sealed up as it were in custody in order to punish them when the measure is full. The inevitable consequence of this is the destruction of the sinner, for nothing can stand against the punitive justice of God (Nahum 1:6; Malachi 3:2; Ezra 9:15). If God should show Himself as Jāh ,

(Note: Eusebius on Ps 68 (67):5 observes that the Logos is called Ἴα as μορφὴν δούλον λαβὼν καὶ τάς ἀκτῖνας τῆς ἑαυτοῦ θεότητος συστείλας καὶ ὥσπερ καταδὺς ἐν τῷ σώματι . There is a similar passage in Vicentius Ciconia (1567), which we introduced into our larger Commentary on the Psalms (1859-60).)

no creature would be able to stand before Him, who is Adonaj , and can therefore carry out His judicial will or purpose (Isaiah 51:16). He does not, however, act thus. He does not proceed according to the legal stringency of recompensative justice. This thought, which fills up the pause after the question, but is not directly expressed, is confirmed by the following כּי , which therefore, as in Job 22:2; Job 31:18; Job 39:14; Isaiah 28:28 (cf. Ecclesiastes 5:6), introduces the opposite. With the Lord is the willingness to forgive ( הסּליחה ), in order that He may be feared; i.e., He forgives, as it is expressed elsewhere (e.g., Psalms 79:9), for His Name's sake: He seeks therein the glorifying of His Name. He will, as the sole Author of our salvation, who, putting all vain-glorying to shame, causes mercy instead of justice to take its course with us (cf. Psalms 51:6), be reverenced; and gives the sinner occasion, ground, and material for reverential thanksgiving and praise by bestowing “forgiveness” upon him in the plenitude of absolutely free grace.

Verses 5-8

Therefore the sinner need not, therefore too the poet will not, despair. He hopes in Jahve ( acc. obj. as in Psalms 25:5, Psalms 25:21; Psalms 40:2), his soul hopes; hoping in and waiting upon God is the mood of his inmost and of his whole being. He waits upon God's word, the word of His salvation (Psalms 119:81), which, if it penetrates into the soul and cleaves there, calms all unrest, and by the appropriated consolation of forgiveness transforms and enlightens for it everything in it and outside of it. His soul is לאדני , i.e., stedfastly and continually directed towards Him; as Chr. A. Crusius when on his death-bed, with hands and eyes uplifted to heaven, joyfully exclaimed: “My soul is full of the mercy of Jesus Christ. My whole soul is towards God. ” The meaning of לאדני becomes at once clear in itself from Psalms 143:6, and is defined moreover, without supplying שׁמרת (Hitzig), according to the following לבּקר . Towards the Lord he is expectantly turned, like those who in the night-time wait for the morning. The repetition of the expression “those who watch for the morning” (cf. Isaiah 21:11) gives the impression of protracted, painful waiting. The wrath, in the sphere of which the poet now finds himself, is a nightly darkness, out of which he wishes to be removed into the sunny realm of love (Malachi 4:2); not he alone, however, but at the same time all Israel, whose need is the same, and for whom therefore believing waiting is likewise the way to salvation. With Jahve, and with Him exclusively, with Him, however, also in all its fulness, is החסד (contrary to Ps 62:13, without any pausal change in accordance with the varying of the segolates), the mercy, which removes the guilt of sin and its consequences, and puts freedom, peace, and joy into the heart. And plenteous ( הרבּה , an adverbial infin. absol., used here, as in Ezekiel 21:20, as an adjective) is with Him redemption; i.e., He possesses in the richest measure the willingness, the power, and the wisdom, which are needed to procure redemption, which rises up as a wall of partition (Exodus 8:19) between destruction and those imperilled. To Him, therefore, must the individual, if he will obtain mercy, to Him must His people, look up hopingly; and this hope directed to Him shall not be put to shame: He, in the fulness of the might of His free grace (Isaiah 43:25), will redeem Israel from all its iniquities, by forgiving them and removing their unhappy inward and outward consequences. With this promise (cf. Psalms 25:22) the poet comforts himself. He means complete and final redemption, above all, in the genuinely New Testament manner, spiritual redemption.

Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Psalms 130". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. 1854-1889.