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We’d like to introduce you to Westminster Worship and our first song meant for congregational worship, our rendition of Psalm 130.
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By Bradley Cox
It’s true that, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” However, a thousand words may not paint an accurate picture. Humans have a tendency to dumb down words that should carry significant weight and depth but end up being thrown around with vagueness and sentimentality. Christians are not exempt from this. There are many words – Biblical words – that Christians use to think and talk about salvation and redemption. But if those words are not understood correctly and given the weight and depth Scripture intends, it’s possible for Biblical words to paint a Biblically inaccurate picture in the Christian’s mind.
For example, when Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, prior to their wedding, an angel appeared to him and said, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21) The word “save” implies that this child is going to bring about some sort of rescue. But what sort of rescue? How would we picture it? Is it like a rescue boat from which life vests and rafts are offered to people in the water who might drown if they don’t see the boat or decide they’d rather take their chances and swim to the nearest shore? The danger here is we might not fill up the word “save” with the depth of meaning Scripture intends. That doesn’t mean we’re not truly saved. However, our joy in salvation could be lessened because we have an inaccurate picture in our minds.
Psalm 130 helps us with this because it pictures salvation for us in four ways. First, the psalmist cries out for rescue, not from the surface, but from “the depths.” It’s an utterly helpless cry because how could a potential rescuer hear his plea from the depths? But he knows who he’s crying out to – Yahweh! Yahweh’s ears can penetrate the depths and tune into the cry, not of the drowning one, but of the one who has already drowned and must be rescued from the bottom.
The second image is that of a courtroom before a judge. The judge is Yahweh and should He “mark” (keep the record of) the psalmist’s sin he could not stand in His presence. Yet in Yahweh’s presence forgiveness is found instead of condemnation. Forgiveness that isn’t to be treated lightly. The holy Judge would be righteous in His condemnation of the psalmist but instead He offers the grace of forgiveness. Thus, He is to be feared because Yahweh with both holy and merciful.
The third image is the watchmen longing and waiting for the light of morning. The watchmen stand their post on the city wall, throughout the long night, squinting anxiously to pick up the slightest hint of danger that may be lurking in the darkness. Nothing they do will make the sun come up any sooner, but as the day dawns they rejoice that the city has been safe for another night. The Lord’s salvation is like the dawn of that new day when darkness is dispelled by the light of His grace and love.
The fourth and final image is the slave whose redemption price has been paid. The slave master is sin and Yahweh has brought deliverance and freedom because of His steadfast love for His people. He did not forget them when they suffered under Egyptian tyranny. Neither will He forget them while they remain under the yoke of slavery to sin and death. His redemption is “plentiful” in that it turns slaves into sons. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
How should we picture the sort of rescue that God the Father brings about in His Son Jesus Christ? How do we fill up the word “save” with all the depth of meaning Scripture intends? Surely Psalm 130 calls us beyond picturing our salvation as a life raft thrown out to drowning people. Salvation is a rescue from the depths. It is forgiveness that invokes fear and reverence. It’s the light of God overcoming the darkness in our souls. It’s the kind of freedom that turns slaves into sons of the Most High.
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