“I wait for the Lord; I wait, and put my hope in His word. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning–more than the watchmen for the morning.” Psalm 130:5-6
Two years is a long time to take off from doing this blog–it stands as a testament as to how easily our daily habits can fall by the wayside, and then one thing leads to another, and so on and so forth. Life moves quickly and things get hectic and focuses shift. I’ve wanted to start this up again, but it has taken until this point for me to feel ready and focused enough to begin tackling such a task. That being said, let’s give this another shot.
Psalm 130 is another one of the numerous psalms penned by David. In addition to being a military hero, a shepherd, an accomplished musician, David was also a prolific writer, having penned numerous poems and songs during his life. This psalm comes from a collection known as the “songs of ascents.” What this means is this: pilgrims would sing these particular psalms as they made their annual journeys to Jerusalem.
The Holy City, Jerusalem, has a unique geography: it is located in high in the mountains, and regardless of which direction one approaches it from, one must always go “up” to Jerusalem. It makes no difference whether you come to Jerusalem from North, South, East, or West, Jerusalem’s elevation is higher than that of the cities and towns surrounding it, so a pilgrim’s journey to Jerusalem required them to go up into the city. Due to this unique geographical oddity, the psalms that were reserved for singing on the journey to Jerusalem became associated with going up, or ascending, and the name “song of ascents” stuck.
Psalm 130 in particular reflects a unique and optimistic attitude of the pilgrim; he (we’ll use “he” since David wrote this psalm) is eagerly awaiting word from God. Elsewhere in David’s writings, he also references how deeply depressed he becomes when he feels distant from God, so it is easy to understand how important communication with the Almighty is for him. David’s emotions can always be traced directly to his spiritual state and his relationship with God.
David desires communication with his God, because he knows that everything he has is because of God. God is the source of his power, glory, success, safety, and most importantly, the source of his hope. God’s word, timeless, unchanging, and unfaltering, has sustained David through times of thick and thin–through the bear and lion attacks on his flock, through the battle with Goliath, through the war with Saul, through his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah, through the war with his Son, Absalom, and until his death. In the good and in the bad, David knew his only hope was to trust in God.
In verse 6, David uses a very interesting illustration to communicate the anticipation with which he is waiting to communicate with God. He says that he “waits for the Lord more than the watchmen [waits] for the morning.” Consider this: the job of the night watchman, though vitally important, was not a job that many people desired to take. This is a job that requires one to work all night, patrol the city alone and in the dark, to keep a look out for fire, attacking armies, bandits and robbers, and to be exposed to all the dregs of society. It was just as true then as it is today that night exposes a completely different side of society. Darkness draws out things that cannot be exposed in the light. In spite of all this, the night watchman–night in and night out–dutifully goes to his post to do his job. He works throughout the dark night, keeping those who slumber safe, all the while scanning the horizon for the first sign of light, the signal that another night’s work has been completed and he can now return to his own home. It is with this same anxiousness, this same hope, that David waits to hear from God. David understood, and we must as well, that when–and only when– God speaks to us, He brings light to our soul’s dark night.