Psalm 130

Read: Psalm 130

Psalm 130 is numbered among the seven penitential Psalms, the others being 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, and 143.  Luther called Psalms 32, 51, 130, and 143 the “Psalms of Paul” and regarded them as the best Psalms.

Think About It: Why did Luther call Psalms 32, 51, 130, and 142 the “Psalms of Paul?” How could these Psalms be useful in my prayer life?

Prayer: Prayerfully read one of the “penitential” psalms.


Read: Psalm 130:1; Jonah 2:1 – 9

The Hebrew word used for “depths” in Psalm 130:1 usually refers to the depths of the ocean; it refers to a place that is as deep as you can go. This is remarkable because Psalm 130 is the eleventh of the fifteen psalms of ascent, sung by the Pilgrims as they went up to Jerusalem. The  pilgrimage begins in Psalm 120, “in distress,” and goes upward with every psalm; yet this psalm comes “out of the depths.”

Think About It: Compare the ascent of the psalms to the experience of Jonah. How did Jonah get into the depths?  Shouldn’t the psalmist by this time be praying “from the heights“?  What does this tell me about the relationship between my outward circumstances and my inward spiritual condition? Is there any place, outwardly or inwardly, from which I cannot call upon the Lord?

Prayer: For the Lord to lift me from the depths.


Read: Psalm 130:1; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:2;

2 Thessalonians 3:1; John 14:13 – 14; Romans 8:35

Psalm 130:1 shows us that true prayer arises from deep humility; it is the cry of the heart, in the heart’s own words; it is addressed, with reverence and awe, to the Lord. The Hebrew word for “cry” or “call out” is often used in the sense of “to call by name.

Think About It: Although the example of Psalm 130:1 emphasizes the importance of praying for myself, what scriptural examples are there of the legitimacy of also asking others to pray for me?  What does humble prayer sound like, as opposed to prideful prayer (see Luke 18:10 – 14)?  Do my prayers sound prideful, or humble?

Prayer: For God’s mercy towards me, a sinner.


Read: Psalm 130:2; Romans 8:26 – 27, 34

The Hebrew word translated “hear” in Psalm 130:2 is shama and means listen attentively; listen carefully,” which is reinforced by the poetic repetition, “let your ears be attentive.”  An important aspect of true prayer reflected in Psalm 130:2 is that it bases its appeal not on personal merit, but on the mercy of God.

Think About It: What assurance do I have that God hears my prayers? Who helps me when I pray?

Prayer: Praise the Lord for the assurance that He hears my prayers.


Read: Psalm 130:3, 4; Romans 3:32; Ecclesiastes 7:20; John 8:24; Ephesians 2:3

Psalm 130:3 reminds us that all have sinned and that no one would stand if God exacted the penalty for sin.  This reflects another aspect of true prayer: confident dependence on God’s mercy for the forgiveness of sins.

Think About It: I am to fear God, and not presume (that is, trample) upon Him because of His mercy (Psalm 130:4). What price was paid for the forgiveness of my sins (1 Peter 1:18 – 19)?  What does Romans 6:1 – 2 tell me my response should be to God’s gracious forgiveness of my sins? What can I expect if I presume upon God’s mercy (Hebrews 10:31)?

Prayer: Praise God for His steadfast love, mercy and patience.


Read: Psalm 130:5, 6; Romans 8:24 – 25; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 John 1:9

Psalm 130:5 – 6 remind us that a very significant aspect of both true prayer and of biblical spirituality is waiting. We have already received much from God, but there is a “not yet,” including our expectation of the Lord’s return and our heavenly reward.

Think About It: What word of the Lord assures me that I have already received forgiveness of sin? For what am I expectantly waiting?

Prayer: Praise God for the assurance of forgiveness.


Read: Psalm 130:7 – 8; 1 Timothy 1:15, 2:5 – 6

The Hebrew word for redemption refers to a ransom, such as that paid to purchase freedom for a slave, or release for a prisoner of war.  The resources God has available for redemption are “plentiful.”

Think About It: Who paid the ransom for my freedom? What was the price that was paid? From what was I set free?

Prayer: Praise the Lord Jesus for paying the price to set me free.