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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Psalms Chapter 130


psa 130:0

De Profundis

Luther, being once asked which were the best Psalms, replied, Psalmi Paulini; and when his companions at table pressed him to say which these were, he answered: Psa 32:1-11; Ps 51; Psa 130:1-8, and Psa 143:1-12. In fact in Psa 130:1-8 the condemnability of the natural man, the freeness of mercy, and the spiritual nature of redemption are expressed in a manner thoroughly Pauline. It is the sixth among the seven Psalmi poenitentiales (Psa 6:1-10, Psa 32:1-11, Ps 38, Ps 51, Ps 102, Psa 130:1-8, Psa 143:1-12).

Even the chronicler had this Psalm before him in the present classification, which puts it near to Ps 132; for the independent addition with which he enriches Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the Temple, Ch2 6:40-42, is compiled out of passages of Psa 130:1-8 (Psa 130:2, cf. the divine response, Ch2 7:15) and Ps 132 (Psa 132:8, Psa 132:16, Psa 132:10).

The mutual relation of Psa 130:1-8 to Ps 86 has been already noticed there. The two Psalms are first attempts at adding a third, Adonajic style to the Jehovic and Elohimic Psalm-style. There Adonaj is repeated seven times, and three times in this Psalm. There are also other indications that the writer of Psa 130:1-8 was acquainted with that Ps 86 (compare Psa 130:2, שׁמעה בקולי, with Psa 86:6, והקשׁיבה בּקול; Psa 130:2, לקול תּחנוּני, with Psa 86:6, בּקול תּחנוּנותי; Psa 130:4, עמּך הסּליחה, with Psa 86:5, וסלּח; Psa 130:8, החסד עם ה/ הח, with Psa 86:5, Psa 86:15, רב־חסד). The fact that קשּׁוּב (after the form שׁכּוּל), occurs besides only in those dependent passages of the chronicler, and קשּׁב only in Neh 1:6, Neh 1:11, as סליחה besides only in Dan 9:9; Neh 9:17, brings our Psalm down into a later period of the language; and moreover Ps 86 is not Davidic.

Psalms 130:1

psa 130:1

The depths (מעמקּים) are not the depths of the soul, but the deep outward and inward distress in which the poet is sunk as in deep waters (Psa 69:3, Psa 69:15). Out of these depths he cries to the God of salvation, and importunately prays Him who rules all things and can do all things to grant him a compliant hearing (שׁמע בּ, Gen 21:12; Gen 26:13; Gen 30:6, and other passages). God heard indeed even in Himself, as being the omniscient One, the softest and most secret as well as the loudest utterance; but, as Hilary observes, fides officium suum exsequitur, ut Dei auditionem roget, ut qui per naturam suam audit per orantis precem dignetur audire. In this sense the poet prays that His ears may be turned קשּׁבות (duller collateral form of קשּׁב, to be in the condition of arrectae aures), with strained attention, to his loud and urgent petition (Psa 28:2). His life hangs upon the thread of the divine compassion. If God preserves iniquities, who can stand before Him?! He preserves them (שׁמר) when He puts them down to one (Psa 32:2) and keeps them in remembrance (Gen 37:11), or, as it is figuratively expressed in Job 14:17, sealed up as it were in custody in order to punish them when the measure is full. The inevitable consequence of this is the destruction of the sinner, for nothing can stand against the punitive justice of God (Nah 1:6; Mal 3:2; Ezr 9:15). If God should show Himself as Jāh,

(Note: Eusebius on Ps 68 (67):5 observes that the Logos is called Ἴα as μορφὴν δούλον λαβὼν καὶ τάς ἀκτῖνας τῆς ἑαυτοῦ θεότητος συστείλας καὶ ὥσπερ καταδὺς ἐν τῷ σώματι. There is a similar passage in Vicentius Ciconia (1567), which we introduced into our larger Commentary on the Psalms (1859-60).)

no creature would be able to stand before Him, who is Adonaj, and can therefore carry out His judicial will or purpose (Isa 51:16). He does not, however, act thus. He does not proceed according to the legal stringency of recompensative justice. This thought, which fills up the pause after the question, but is not directly expressed, is confirmed by the following כּי, which therefore, as in Job 22:2; Job 31:18; Job 39:14; Isa 28:28 (cf. Ecc 5:6), introduces the opposite. With the Lord is the willingness to forgive (הסּליחה), in order that He may be feared; i.e., He forgives, as it is expressed elsewhere (e.g., Psa 79:9), for His Name's sake: He seeks therein the glorifying of His Name. He will, as the sole Author of our salvation, who, putting all vain-glorying to shame, causes mercy instead of justice to take its course with us (cf. Psa 51:6), be reverenced; and gives the sinner occasion, ground, and material for reverential thanksgiving and praise by bestowing "forgiveness" upon him in the plenitude of absolutely free grace.

Psalms 130:5

psa 130:5

Therefore the sinner need not, therefore too the poet will not, despair. He hopes in Jahve (acc. obj. as in Psa 25:5, Psa 25:21; Psa 40:2), his soul hopes; hoping in and waiting upon God is the mood of his inmost and of his whole being. He waits upon God's word, the word of His salvation (Psa 119:81), which, if it penetrates into the soul and cleaves there, calms all unrest, and by the appropriated consolation of forgiveness transforms and enlightens for it everything in it and outside of it. His soul is לאדני, i.e., stedfastly and continually directed towards Him; as Chr. A. Crusius when on his death-bed, with hands and eyes uplifted to heaven, joyfully exclaimed: "My soul is full of the mercy of Jesus Christ. My whole soul is towards God." The meaning of לאדני becomes at once clear in itself from Psa 143:6, and is defined moreover, without supplying שׁמרת (Hitzig), according to the following לבּקר. Towards the Lord he is expectantly turned, like those who in the night-time wait for the morning. The repetition of the expression "those who watch for the morning" (cf. Isa 21:11) gives the impression of protracted, painful waiting. The wrath, in the sphere of which the poet now finds himself, is a nightly darkness, out of which he wishes to be removed into the sunny realm of love (Mal 4:2); not he alone, however, but at the same time all Israel, whose need is the same, and for whom therefore believing waiting is likewise the way to salvation. With Jahve, and with Him exclusively, with Him, however, also in all its fulness, is החסד (contrary to Ps 62:13, without any pausal change in accordance with the varying of the segolates), the mercy, which removes the guilt of sin and its consequences, and puts freedom, peace, and joy into the heart. And plenteous (הרבּה, an adverbial infin. absol., used here, as in Eze 21:20, as an adjective) is with Him redemption; i.e., He possesses in the richest measure the willingness, the power, and the wisdom, which are needed to procure redemption, which rises up as a wall of partition (Exo 8:19) between destruction and those imperilled. To Him, therefore, must the individual, if he will obtain mercy, to Him must His people, look up hopingly; and this hope directed to Him shall not be put to shame: He, in the fulness of the might of His free grace (Isa 43:25), will redeem Israel from all its iniquities, by forgiving them and removing their unhappy inward and outward consequences. With this promise (cf. Psa 25:22) the poet comforts himself. He means complete and final redemption, above all, in the genuinely New Testament manner, spiritual redemption.

Next: Psalms Chapter 131