Psalm 130 (NRSV)
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.
Over the last month, I took a “Verbs for Poets” Zoom class for fun, and I read a book, Rehearsing Scripture by Anna Carter Florence, which says “study the verbs.” Who has which verb? Are they active, passive, past or present, or a hoped-for future? So let’s look at some of the verbs in this passage.
The psalmist is the one who opens with a present tense “cry” and a demand for God to “hear.” The second stanza makes suggestions about God’s potential response – if God should mark iniquities, who could stand? And suggests that there is forgiveness in God, because otherwise who would be around to praise God in the future?
Stanza 3 is back to the psalmist, who now has the present tense verbs “wait,” “hope,” and “watch.” This is a list of what the Psalmist is doing (verbing), and perhaps how we should act.
In the last stanza, the psalmist has turned to all of the people of Israel and is giving them a verb: hope in the Lord God. We’ve moved from something that feels very personal to a community plea. We are reminded that God, insofar as we can truly use words or images to illumine God, has great power and great love – we can hope in that. Waiting in our present world is very much personal and all of us together. Let us remember that Lenten waiting is both extremely sad and extremely – amazingly! – joyful.
To loop back to stanza 1, I will leave you with a question for Good Friday: “Out of the depths” of your soul what would you cry out to God?
Gracious God, remember us and heal us
Nurture us and sustain us
Shower joy down upon us, the joy of Easter
Of redeeming love, of steadfast love.
While we wait let us grow stronger
And let us be united in our praise for You. Amen.
Rachel Ann Russell