Lent Devotion: April 19th
April 19, 2019
By Melody Meeter
Psalm 130 (NKJV):
1 Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications. …
6 My soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning—
yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord;
for with the Lord there is mercy,
and with him is abundant redemption.
Read the full psalm.
When I think of this psalm, I hear the organ playing in a minor key. It’s a hymn by Martin Luther from 1524. Luther’s lyrics are a paraphrase of Psalm 130. Aus tiefer Noth is the name of that hymn tune—out of the depths. You can Google Aus tiefer Noth if you want to hear it. The first note is high C, the second note dips down to F, getting down there with the speaker, calling out to God from the pit. The tune climbs and falls again, up and down, hoping and then losing hope, returning at last to that F, the lowest note in the hymn. It’s not a happy clappy hymn or a happy clappy psalm. Rather, it’s slow and solemn; it’s a “waiting for redemption” song.
Down there in the pit, the psalmist is in despair, not only about her own iniquities, her weaknesses, her sins of omission and commission, but also about the iniquities of her people Israel. The individual sins are entwined with the sins of the nation. But it is also down there in the pit the psalmist remembers something else: “ … there is forgiveness with you,” and “with the Lord there is steadfast love,” and “with him is great power to redeem.” There is hope in the waiting for God’s redemption. Twice the psalmist repeats the phrase “my soul waits” and twice repeats the image of the soul waiting for the Lord “more than those who watch for the morning.”
As a chaplain, I get to wait for a little while with souls that are waiting for God to show up. It’s really dark down there. But in the very act of crying out, sometimes a light surprises—a healing, a surrender, a peace, a hope. The song rises.
Prayer: Dear God, grant us to see your light though we may be in the depths. Grant us to feel your steadfast love though we may feel unlovable. And grant us companions to wait for you in hope. Amen.
Melody MeeterRev. Melody Meeter is the director of the spiritual care department at NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn. She is a member of Brooklyn Classis and belongs to the congregation of Old First Reformed Church in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where her husband, Rev. Dr. Daniel Meeter, is the pastor. With that congregation, she waits in hope for God’s redemption.