1 LORD, from the depths I call to you; 2 Lord, hear me from on high And give attention to my voice when I for mercy cry.
3 LORD, in your presence who can stand, if you our sins record? 4 But yet forgiveness is with you, that we may fear you, LORD.
5 I wait—my soul waits—for the LORD; my hope is in his word. 6 More than the watchman waits for dawn my soul waits for the Lord.
7 O Isr’el, put your hope in God, for mercy is with him 8 And full redemption. From their sins his people he’ll redeem.
You can hear a Free Church of Scotland sing this to the tune Martyrdom here.
This is one of the Psalms of Ascent. Having just returned from the URC’s visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, I have a new understanding of ascent – who knew Jerusalem was so hilly!?
It speaks to the (mistaken) idea that God is waiting for us to trip up, to get things wrong and so to judge us. Let’s face it, if that were the case, we’d probably all be in trouble. But that is not God; God’s default position is to forgive and to respond to our sin with grace. Thank God!
In this Psalm we meet, not a God who imposes his will by force, but one who makes himself vulnerable by being in relationship with us imperfect humans. For despite all our faults and failings, we wait on the Lord in the steadfast hope of his redeeming forgiveness and in that forgiveness, we receive freedom to live as children of God.
This Psalm could have been written for the Palestinian Christians living and working in the West Bank who are crying out for justice. It speaks to their condition as humans who are ‘in the depths’, they are in distress and drowning in a situation not of their making, and over which they have no control; armed checkpoints and a 26ft wall dominate their lives. They are in need of a liberating, rescuing, redemption – they are in need of God’s saving love.
Yet despite their situation, many of those we met remain hopeful, they were welcoming, showed generous hospitality and all they asked in return was, ‘tell our story’. Their stories need to be heard so if you’ve not already, please speak to your synod rep who went on the trip. And remember the psalmist’s words, ‘from the depths I call to you; Lord, hear me’.
Creator God, You call to us in our dark places and invite us to new life. When we feel lost and hopeless you surprise us with your saving love. May we be signs of your love and life for all those we meet as we walk the way and live the life of Jesus today. Amen
The Rev’d Branwen Rees, East Wales Regional Minister
Sing Psalms! Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS