Psalm 130 was one of Martin Luther’s favorite psalms and
his paraphrase of it for the Lutheran hymn of 1524: “Aus
tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir” is still part of many hymnals. In an
English-speaking world the hymn translation is by Catherine
Winkworth, “Out of the depths I cry to thee. . . . ”
The psalm opens with a cry of suffering, despair, and
anguish: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.” A focus on
the religious significance of praying can be seen in Christian
interpretations of the psalm. In the very act of crying from the
deep, this person rises from the deep, says Augustine. “Whoever
does not cry out, finds no grace,” says Luther. Other interpreters
propose that praying the psalm is the means of personal transformation
or practice of virtues: devout praying and relying on
God’s mercy, for examples.
God does not count sins, or else no one would be acceptable.
Rather, the psalmist focuses on the character of God who
forgives and on trust in the promises that God has made. The
psalmist proposes waiting for their fulfillment, stating his or
her soul waits for the Lord “more than those who watch for the
To see with the eyes of God is to claim the merciful and loving
character of God, which remains steadfast even in the abyss.
God is not to be feared because of the wrath of God’s judgment,
but God is revered because “with the Lord there is steadfast
love, and with him is great power to redeem” (verse 7). God’s
unchanging love is the essence of who God is, and God’s power
is precisely the power to redeem.
O God, yours is the voice within us when we call to you from the abyss. Show us your loving-kindness and mercy, and grant us peace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Ezekiel 37 presents a vision of the dry bones that represent the people of Israel after the Babylonian invasion—the people have no life. God calls Ezekiel to see the devastation and to prophesy to the dry bones with the message that they shall live. The psalmist cries out from the very depths expressing both a need and hunger for God and a trust in God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. The story of Lazarus’s death and Jesus’ raising him to life calls forth our own stories and experiences of life and death. It draws us in to a conversation that goes deeper than our intellect. It evokes our questions, our fears, our doubts, and our faith. The Romans text offers the good news that the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us. Each of these texts affirms life after death. Death is not the end; death does not have the nal word.
• Read Ezekiel 37:1-14. How has life come to you through death?
• Read Psalm 130. For what do you cry out to God? Pray the psalm, line by line, knowing that God hears and extends mercy and care.
• Read Romans 8:6-11. How has God changed your mind-set, your attitude, to bring you richer life?
• Read John 11:1-45. What in your world needs to die in order for life to come forth?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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