Friday, March 7, 2014

She Reads Truth: Psalm 130 Reflection

Growing up, periods of the Holy Calendar like Advent and Lent would come and go and make little impact on my knowledge or worship of God.  But as an adult, I'm learning more about these seasons and am striving to enter into the holy holidays with a sense of reverence and worship more so than celebration.

So I'm excited that #SheReadsTruth  published a Lent study which also includes a weekly homework assignment to meditate on a passage throughout the week and write a reflection/devotional about it to share on Friday.  Assigned this week is Psalm 130:1-8, and while at first glance it's accessible enough to apply directly to our lives, it's much richer upon further readings with study and understanding of some of the Hebrew and direct context.  

Psalm 130 is a Song of Degrees or Ascents belonging to one of fifteen Psalms (120-134) that were believed to be sung by Jews during their annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem which brought the worshipers singing to Zion.  In this particular Psalm we see a quick ascent from the depths of despair to hope in the Lord's redemption.  Below I have rewritten the Psalm with some paraphrases and have attempted to capture some of the nuances the Hebrew (language) carries with it.

O Lord, out of great despair I continually cry out to you.
Lord, cup your ears and fully perceive the earnestness in my prayers of begging for your graciousness and favor.
If you, Lord, counted every sin of mine and held them against me, I would be lost forever.
But thankfully, you give forgiveness and for that you are to be respected, honored, revered.  Worshiped!
I am expecting you to move, my soul depends on you, and I trust you because of the promises of your word.
And I wait for you in the darkness with more longing and expectancy than a guard who keeps watch for the morning.
Israel, I command you to hope and trust in the Lord, for with Him is one who befriends and helps us and can redeem all things and people.
And he will redeem all of Israel from every kind of sin.

Just as the Psalmist, who of us hasn't known despair?  That deep hurt and longing of the soul.  As believers, we are not shielded from the pains and sufferings of this fallen world.  We lose those we love, we're afflicted with disease, dreams get shattered, loved ones betray us.  And we're sent to the depths.  But always, as shown in this Psalm, we must cry out to the Lord from those depths.  

"Deep places beget deep devotion.  
Depths of earnestness are stirred by depths of tribulation.  
The depth of their [believers'] distress moves the depths of their being;
and from the bottom of their hearts an exceeding great and bitter cry rises unto the one living and true God."

--Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David

I remember shortly after receiving Bear's diagnosis of Down syndrome, I thought everything inside me was cracking.  My body was wracked by sobs as I cried out, "Why?  Why does my little boy have to go through life with this, Lord?  How am I supposed to do this?"  But this deep place of suffering allows something beautiful to emerge.  A five-year struggle is begetting this deep earnestness and devotion, and as the Lord pulls me out, I can't help but sing his praises.  Truly, it has been an ascent as I declare along with the Psalmist, "For with the Lord there is lovingkindness, and with Him is abundant redemption.  And He will redeem [us] from all [our] iniquities."

Though we suffer, though we despair, though we feel lost in the depths, we are never to be passive or remain there.

Sometimes our prayer is simply one word:

Grasp onto a word and cry out.  We have a Father who bends down and cups his ear to our pleas and in great tenderness offers a hand to pull us out of the pit.  Praise the Lord!  

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