Waiting and watching. Every parent knows this drill. When your child is ill, teased, bullied, about to make a bad decision, misses the catch that loses the game, etc., that is your job: to wait and watch. Parenting comes with a certain amount of sleepless nights. The bad news is, this is not confined to their early years. I have friends who are preparing to send their kids off to college in the middle of a pandemic. They are walking the kitchen floorboards at 3 AM just like they did when those children were babies. Waiting and watching.
As a world community, we are also waiting and watching. A deadly virus that was supposed to be gone by now has mutated into an even deadlier virus. Hospitals are filling up again and non-COVID cases are having to wait and watch longer than they should due to the overcrowding of COVID patients. A friend’s daughter had to wait for a room for several hours longer than expected after a surgery because of this. Others are being turned away from their local Emergency Rooms for lack of beds.
Waiting and watching.
Psalm 130 is known as a penitential psalm, and is part of a collection of psalms of ascents that were sung by Hebrew pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. It appears in Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant liturgies, and has been set to music by several composers. It is known as a song that is used in times of “communal distress.” How appropriate then, for us to study it today.
Psalm 130 (Common English Bible)
I cry out to you from the depths, Lord—
2 my Lord, listen to my voice!
Let your ears pay close attention to my request for mercy!
3 If you kept track of sins, Lord—
my Lord, who would stand a chance?
4 But forgiveness is with you—
that’s why you are honored.
5 I hope, Lord.
My whole being hopes,
and I wait for God’s promise.
6 My whole being waits for my Lord—
more than the night watch waits for morning;
yes, more than the night watch waits for morning!
7 Israel, wait for the Lord!
Because faithful love is with the Lord;
because great redemption is with our God!
8 He is the one who will redeem Israel
from all its sin.
This is a song that is meant to comfort the discomforted. The beauty of the language of hope overrides the lament about waiting. The psalmist pleads for God to hear his request for mercy, and then reminds God of his forgiving nature. He reminds us that we, too, can wait for God’s promises.
What are you waiting for? What keeps you awake at night? Remember this, as you pace: God’s faithful love will redeem you, and in fact will redeem the world. So take comfort, all who wait. God hears our cries from the depths, and is coming to save us.
Our hope is in you, Lord.