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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 130

A Song of degrees.

The psalmist speaks in the first person singular in behalf of all Israel, and his cry is that of penitence and hope out of deep outward distress. The De Profundis Out of the Depths,” with which it opens, is a fitting title. Psalms 130:3-4 are a confession of sin as the cause of his misery, from which not human merit but the forgiving mercy of God alone can save him. Psalms 130:5-6, express his steadfast hope and waiting faith in that mercy to which also, in Psalms 130:7, he exhorts all Israel, closing, in Psalms 130:8, with a confident expectation that Israel shall yet be redeemed from present sin and its consequent punishment. The psalm is tenderly plaintive and hopeful, and breathes an evangelical spirit and doctrine worthy of New Testament times. The plaintive strain is in sympathy with Psalms 86:0. Everything points to a late date of the psalm, which in spirit might harmonize with the circumstances of Israel recorded Ezra 9:10. The word rendered attentive, (Psalms 130:2,) occurs elsewhere only in 2 Chronicles 6:40; 2 Chronicles 7:15; and the word forgiveness, Psalms 130:4, only in Nehemiah 9:9; Nehemiah 9:17, and Daniel 9:9. The psalm is the sixth of the so-called seven Penitential Psalms, namely, Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143. Luther ranked it among the best of the psalms, and denominated it and Psalms 32, 51, 143, “Pauline Psalms.”

Verse 1

1. Out of the depths A figure denoting great sorrow and mental dejection, as in Psalms 69:2; Psalms 69:14. In this case the affliction connects with remembered sin as its moral cause.

Verse 2

2. Lord Hebrew, Adonah. This divine name occurs three times in this psalm, and that of Jehovah five times. Delitzsch thinks this and Psalms 86:0, where Adonah is repeated seven times, are specimens of a third, or Adonajic style of psalms, added to the Jehovistic and Elohimic. The frequent occurrence of these awful names is evidence of intensity of desire and agony of spirit.

Attentive Literally, With pointed ears “strained attention.” Delitzsch. The ears, and hence the mind, to be directed to this one point. The first two verses earnestly claim a hearing of the complaint.

Verse 3

3. Mark iniquities Literally, Keep iniquities, or, watch iniquities closely; that is, remember them accurately in order to bring them to punishment. The same idea is conveyed in Deuteronomy 32:34; Job 14:17; Hosea 13:12. In such a strict course of justice who could stand! But opposite to this preserving, or “sealing up,” the record of our sins for judgment, stands the merciful non-imputation, or forgiveness, of sin through faith in the atonement, as in Psalms 32:2; Romans 4:7-8. On this mercy alone, without human merit, depends the hope of every man.

Verse 4

4. That thou mayest be feared The telic use of the conjunctive particle supplies the explanation of this administration of divine mercy; that is, God forgives sin, to the end that men may fear and obey him as the only lawgiver and judge, and hence the sole authority for the exercise of grace and pardon. Jeremiah 33:8-9. The confession of sin and forgiveness in Psalms 130:3-4, is founded upon a clear New Testament view of atonement and mediation.

Verse 5

5. I wait for the Lord Both for his time and method of deliverance, leaving all to his sovereign will. Nothing else could be called waiting for him. From his complaint and his confession of sin and of divine grace, the psalmist now proceeds to declare his confidence and patient waiting for help.

In his word do I hope God never leaves his people in affliction without a word of promise for their comfort and hope. Psalms 119:92

Verse 6

6. More than they that watch for the morning It is not the common watch, that is here alluded to, but the Levitical watch in the temple, which were sent to discover and announce the first streaks of day, in order that the priests might know when to order the morning sacrifice. “Agreeably to this explanation is the Chaldee: ‘My soul waits for the Lord, more than the keepers of the morning vigils, which they observe for the offering of the morning oblation.’” Phillips.

Verses 7-8

7, 8. Most fitly, therefore, does the trusting poet call on Israel also to fully trust in Jehovah, who not only showeth mercy, but plenteous redemption. He multiplieth to show mercy, as the Hebrew reads, in his manner of deliverance, saving not only from punishment, but iniquity, the cause of punishment.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 130". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.