Notes on Psalm 130:1

[Read: Psalm 130]

Out of the Depths I Cry to You, O Lord!

The psalmist’s cry is a deep one, reverberating from the depths of his soul, but it is not cast into empty space. The despair of the lost man is evidenced in his crying out to no one, to false deities, and to other sinful men like himself, while completely neglecting to cry out to the One True God, Yahweh the Triune Lord God. Here we can see the difference between the two types of sorrow that the Holy Spirit speaks of through our brother Paul, when He tells the Corinthians that “…godly sorrow produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”[1]

Peter and Judas serve as powerful examples of this contrast, the former corresponding to godly sorrow and the latter corresponding worldly grief. While the unregenerate man cannot feel this godly sorrow that produces repentance which leads to salvation, he can feel a genuine sort of guilt that he cannot appease, the Law of God written on his heart continually proclaiming to him: “YOU are the man!” He doesn’t, however, turn to Yahweh for forgiveness. There are some who, like Judas, are overwhelmed by their sinful choices but seek to redeem themselves by turning to false religion, thereby attempting to rectify their wrongs by turning over a new leaf, so to speak. This, however, can only lead to despair, as it did for Judas. There are others who, like Pharaoh, feel the sting of God’s rebuke for breaking His Law, but they seek the Mediator only to remove this sting. There is no true repentance, only a faint recognition of some wrong done this time.[2]

Both of these types of men cry out for deliverance, but do so self-righteously and, therefore, wickedly and falsely. Judas’ self-righteousness is evident in his turning not to God but to the religious leaders whom he joined in rebelling against the Lord God Jesus Christ; and Pharaoh’s self-righteousness is evident in his refusal to acknowledge any guilt save that which he could visibly connect to his current plight. These men exhibit worldly grief, sorrow over their sins to be sure, but a self-righteous worldly sorrow over sins. Judas thought he could redeem himself by returning the silver which he received from the priests for betraying Christ. Judas looked to his own deeds, to his own righteousness, to deliver him. Pharaoh, on the other hand, considered his sin only to be a temporary lapse in judgment, a slip-up, so to speak, and thought himself to be, otherwise, without any real fault. These men, unlike the psalmist, did not cry out to Yahweh. Judas cried out to the priests, and when that failed he cried out to the depths of Sheol, ending his own life in shame, misery, despair. Pharaoh cried out to the mediator, but he did so superficially; Pharaoh still held himself to be sinless in other respects.

This isn’t to place conditions upon receiving the grace of God, as the heretical preparationists taught; rather, this is to state simply that those who are truly being drawn of the Lord and brought to faith in Him will cry out to Him and not cry out to the teachers and leaders of false religions, nor will he turn to the Lord while still grasping on to his deluded sense of self-righteousness that can admit to sinning this time or that time.

[Notes on Psalm 130:2]

[1] 2 Cor 7:10

[2] Cf. Ex 9:27-28, Note that Pharaoh admits to having sinned “this time,” i.e. in connection with this particular judgment sent by God.


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