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Psalm 130 – A Gospel Song

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series

"Out of the Depths"

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We have been looking at the message of Psalm 130 and have noticed that it is a penitential psalm and a song of corporate worship. The final stanza (verses 7-8) in particular reveal its congregational focus, proclaiming that God will redeem all of his people from their iniquities.

You see, this penitential psalm is not the cry of someone who is without hope. This is not a cry like the prophets of Baal as they limped around the altar shouting, “Baal, we cry to thee!” This is not the cry of a helpless individual pleading for mercy from a distant, unconcerned despot of a deity.

This is a cry for mercy from someone who has already been promised mercy. This is a cry for help from someone who knows that with the Lord there is steadfast love.

This is a gospel song.

When Martin Luther was asked what his favorite psalms were, he answered that his favorite psalms were the “Pauline Psalms.” And when he was asked which psalms those were, he answered Psalm 32, Psalm 51, Psalm 130, and Psalm 143. Four penitential psalms—four songs of repentance. Luther said that he believed that these four penitential psalms, Psalm 130 among them, contained truths that best reflected the gospel as Paul articulated it in his New Testament epistles.

This song clearly expresses the reality of our sin, God’s judgment of sin, and the forgiveness that is possible for those who repent and believe, forgiveness that is based upon the sacrificial atonement of the Son of God. This is a gospel song.

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Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Cutlure, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and three children.

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