Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 130’

PSALM 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
    Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
    so that you may be revered.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than those who watch for the morning,
    more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
    from all its iniquities.

The special power of forgiveness is absolutely essential to the forward advance of our human evolution, if there is any hope for our fulfillment as a species. This evolution, more important than scientific discoveries and technological progress, has to do with our ability to live together in communities of freedom, justice, equality, love and fidelity.

What complicates this idealistic picture to a great degree are the reactive and conflicting energies of our emotional experience. When someone does us wrong, the act itself may be physically long past, and its various conditions rationally understood, but the feelings of hurt, resentment, and vengefulness can burn inside us for years and years. We may even have forgotten the details of the event, and the face of the perpetrator may lie below our conscious recall, but this seething tangle of fixated emotions will continue to erupt spontaneously when we are fatigued, stressed out, or feel caught in a similar scenario.

To forgive is nether to dismiss the severity of the offense or injury, nor to wave aside the fact of your pain. Rather it is a rational decision to let go of the impulse to either curl up in an emotional ball of self-pity or lash out in a vicious or calculating attempt to get even. It’s not simply waiting for the pain to pass; it’s choosing to get on with your life.

PSALM 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
    Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
    so that you may be revered.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than those who watch for the morning,
    more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
    from all its iniquities.

Although David was personally acquainted with King Saul’s corruption, he never asked God to eliminate him from the field, however much simpler and more peaceful that would have made his own life. He understood from experience that God desires faithfulness and full devotion to the purposes we’re called to, but that God also is enough aware of our internal conflicts and external challenges to not expect that we will consistently perform even to a fraction of our capacity. In other words, David knew God to be forgiving, always ready to pick up and try again, to move on and get past the past.

Because God forgives – not conditionally as the reward for genuine repentance, but unconditionally as an act of astounding and undeserved generosity – even old Saul couldn’t be dismissed as beyond hope of redemption. In fact, if we should push this line of thinking to its obvious conclusion, then we would need to restrain our moral impulse to judge the scoundrels and miscreants of the world as worthy only of hell.

God forgives because He perceives the deep and enduring worth in even the most wayward of us. Besides, as the psalmist says, if God should mark iniquities, then who could stand? It’s our tendency to excuse our own sins with a quick reference to the other side of the tracks where others are doing far worse and truly reprehensible things.

PSALM 130

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
2     Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my supplications!

3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you,
    so that you may be revered.

5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
    more than those who watch for the morning,
    more than those who watch for the morning.

7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is great power to redeem.
8 It is he who will redeem Israel
    from all its iniquities.

There are times in life when the solution or answer we seek cannot be found inside our present circumstances. No matter how much we rearrange the furniture or change out the pictures on our walls, the “box” we’re in remains a box.

Let’s be careful to understand that by “circumstances” we are not simply referring to the external conditions around us. Even more important are the mental categories in our minds that assume, explain, classify and predict reality into a corner known as “certainty.” When we are certain about something, curiosity, imagination, as well as critical thinking fall into disuse – and may even go extinct.

The common state of psychological depression typically occurs when our world is shaken by chronic pain, abrupt change, or permanent loss – experiences that force us into serious disillusionment concerning the security and meaning of life. Down inside that emotional pit, our view of reality is drastically reduced in scope – even more so as we start to turn inward on ourselves and ruminate on our misery.

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.” We do have a choice, even down there in the deep emptiness of loss. We can persist in turning the pain over and over in our hearts until we are exhausted and ready to give up, or we can give it over – breathe through it, then take it gently in both hands and surrender it entirely to the provident mystery of grace in this moment.

Once we can let go of our categories, reality has a chance to surprise us. And it’s always more than we could have imagined. Instead of more illusions to replace the ones that were taken with our disillusionment, we are finally open and ready for insight.