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Vital signs- Friday, December 2 nd, 2022


Psalm 130 is one of the songs of ascent (Psalms 120-134). They were sung by travelers on pilgrimages to Jerusalem as they climbed the high hills in which the city was nested. Recently I was able to visit an archeological dig in the ancient City of David that has uncovered part of the walkway from the Pool of Siloam up to the temple area. How can one hope to “ascend” to the presence of the perfectly Holy God given our sin? Psalm 130 is a prayer of repentance that is both honest about our desperate circumstances and hopeful. It states, “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” We can never hope to “climb to God’s presence” through our own effort or merit. It is only through God’s mercy and forgiveness that we might enter His courts. For most of the time after Psalm 130 was authored and sung as countless pilgrims made their ascent, the work of the Messiah on the cross, shedding blood to cover our sins, was still a future event. Those pilgrims were journeying towards this moment in which God descended so that we could ascend, having received His mercy and remission of sins through the work of Jesus. Their posture and mindset were aptly captured in the Psalm: “I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”

It may seem strange to talk about one’s whole being “waiting” while singing a climbing song intended to inspire pilgrims as they stepped towards an approaching destination. But the temple rituals and culture were not the true destinations for those who were on God’s intended path. The climb itself also did not bring them closer to what they sought. The sacrifices and other rituals conveyed our utter dependency on God’s mercy. A mercy poured out now by His grace through Jesus. We have entered His presence and have peace with God. We still press on, awaiting the full liberation of creation at the return of Christ, where we will stand in His presence directly. Our hope is sure that we will be able to stand, not through any steps we have taken but through His wonderful grace. That is His promise. In His Word, we can put our hope indeed.

Prayer

Lord of the Heavens and Earth, we journey to You through the path of Your grace. We confess the sins and failings that have removed us far from Your presence. Yet we rejoice in Your sure word that gives up hope of Your presence and life eternal. We wait eagerly for the day on which we enter Your courts, people coming from every tribe, tongue and nation set free and made holy. Thank you for this present mercy of receiving Your forgiveness and for the sure hope of the Kingdom to fully come on earth as it is heaven.

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭130‬:‭5‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

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