Penitential plea, Psalm 130

When I wake during the night, as I often do these days, I pray for people I know who suffer. If I can’t sleep, I’m sure that some of them are not sleeping either, and I pray for individuals whose names God brings to mind. These “mid-night” prayers (which occur at all hours of the night) often resemble the penitential plea of Psalm 130.

The psalm begins with a wrenching cry (1-2, ESV):

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
  O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
   to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

That plea for mercy is followed by a humble confession, which indicates a contrite and believing heart.

If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
   O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
   that you may be feared (3-4, ESV).

We all have sinned. There is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10). We fail to love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. We fail to love each other as much as we love ourselves. We do not love as Christ commands (Matthew 22:37-39). But through the atoning work of Christ there is complete forgiveness of all our sins.

Yet we live in a broken world and our lives often seem beyond repair. We wake in the night filled with physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
   and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
   more than watchmen for the morning,
   more than watchmen for the morning (5-6, ESV).

The weary watchman stumps to and fro on stiff legs. He slaps himself with his arms to keep warm and remain alert. As the minutes and hours of the endless night drag by, he longs for rest and relief.

What a picture of us as we wait for the Lord to relieve us from our guilt and grief! As we wait, our fingernails cling to the promises of God’s word. We hope, not in men, but in the Lord!

O Israel, hope in the LORD!
   For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
   and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
   from all his iniquities (7-8, ESV).

Men fail to love us as they should, but the Lord’s love is perfect and steadfast. His redemption abundantly covers our sins. God’s redemption is personal and corporate. He saves the sinner and he saves the church!

When you wake in the night, bowed down with sorrow and pain, pray for God’s mercy and place your hope in the Lord. His steadfast love will never fail. He will redeem Israel!


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