We can not only serve God, but we can serve him reverently! We can respect God’s Word, His Ways and His people! We who were once in a great pit are able to see the wide open spaces that God has called us to go. No longer are we surrounded by the all too close together walls of our own regrets and transgressions. We have been pulled up from the pit by God’s forgiveness and can see for miles the places God will send us to go.
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; 2 Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. 3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. 5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
The word “reverence” is one we use a lot in our house. We have four little ones between ages 6 months to 9 years old. My wife and I define reverence for our little ones as “respecting God and respecting his people”. These little ones often find themselves living in ways which are disrespectful. Without training, our children are simply rather disrespectful. Without knowing what respectful behavior looks like in any given situation, they will revert to their own understanding. It’s only through continual exposure and reinforcement of expectations, encouragement, and discipline that our children have learned respect for God and respect for his people.
This is true of myself and my wife as well. Left to our own devices, we dig ourselves a pit. Without continued exposure and reinforcement of God’s expectations, encouragement, and discipline through his Word we are in a deep hole. This deep hole is where the Psalmist begins in Psalm 130:1. From the depths of a hole of their own making come the cries of God’s people.
The plea of the Psalmist is for God to hear their voice. This gives us an image of a hole so deep that it’s almost beyond fathom that anyone could hear beyond the opening. The depth is so far, so deep, that there is no hope of sound traveling beyond the pit. Not too long ago a cell phone company used a great marketing slogan “Can you hear me now? good!”. This pit seems to be too deep for anyone to possibly hear our message. It’s as though the Psalmist cries out “can you hear me Lord?” as they write “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;”.
If you’ve ever played hide and seek with toddlers, then you know they can sometimes make sounds which giveaway their hiding spots. Sometimes a giggle, sometimes shuffling of feet, or sometimes loud shushing of another sibling can giveaway the place of hiding. When you are playing hide and seek, your ears are attuned for these sounds. Sometimes the sound of a dishwasher or heater may distort or interfere with your ability to listen for these sounds. You listen with anticipation and expectation for the sounds like clues that will point you towards your goal. The Psalmist seeks the Lord to hear their voice, not just any voice. It’s as though the Psalmist is crying out to say “ignore all the other distracting sounds, tune your ears for the sound of my voice crying from the pit”.
Verse 3 changes the tune of the Psalm from seeking to draw the attention of the Lord, to one of confession. The confession is one of seemingly countless transgressions: “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?” Maybe the weight of these countless sins is what has made the deep hole. The Psalmist asks a question leaving a silent answer – who could stand? If you and I were to have all our evil thoughts, words, and deeds recounted, who would stand before the righteous, holy, almighty God and say “I’m blameless”? The silent answer that is implied at the end of verse 3 is “No one”.
If Psalm 130 ended at verse 3 it would be a bleak, but true outlook on the world. Who can stand before God? Which one of us could throw the proverbial first stone as one without sin? None of us can claim such a position before God. Each of us are irreverent. Each of us has disrespected God and his people. Each of us have misbehaved. Each of us have fallen short of the expectations God has set. Each of us has performed below the stated expectations revealed through God’s Word. Thankfully, Psalm 130 doesn’t end at verse 3.