Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The prayer of a penitent to God, with confession of sin, Psa 130:1-3. Confidence in God's mercy, and waiting upon him, Psa 130:4-6. Israel is encouraged to hope in the Lord, because of his willingness to save, Psa 130:7, Psa 130:8.
This Psalm has no title nor author's name, either in the Hebrew, or in any of the Versions; though the Syriac says it was spoken of Nehemiah the priest. It was most probably composed during the captivity; and contains the complaint of the afflicted Jews, with their hopes of the remission of those sins which were the cause of their sufferings, and their restoration from captivity to their own land. This is one of those called penitential Psalms.
Out of the depths - The captives in Babylon represent their condition like those who are in a prison - an abyss or deep ditch, ready to be swallowed up.
Lord, hear my voice - They could have no helper but God, and to him they earnestly seek for relief.
If thou - shouldest mark iniquities - If thou shouldst set down every deviation in thought, word, and deed from thy holy law; and if thou shouldst call us into judgment for all our infidelities, both of heart and life; O Lord, who could stand? Who could stand such a trial, and who could stand acquitted in the judgment? This is a most solemn saying; and if we had not the doctrine that is in the next verse, who could be saved?
But there is forgiveness with thee - Thou canst forgive; mercy belongs to thee, as well as judgment. The doctrine here is the doctrine of St. John: "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord hath spoken!" Jesus has died for our sins; therefore God can be just, and yet the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.
I wait for the Lord - The word קוה kavah, which we translate to wait, properly signifies the extension of a cord from one point to another. This is a fine metaphor: God is one point, the human heart is the other; and the extended cord between both is the earnest believing desire of the soul. This desire, strongly extended from the heart to God, in every mean of grace, and when there is none, is the active, energetic waiting which God requires, and which will be successful.
More than they that watch for the morning - I believe the original should be read differently from what it is here. The Chaldee has, "More than they who observe the morning watches, that they may offer the morning oblation." This gives a good sense, and is, perhaps, the true meaning. Most of the Versions have "From the morning to the night watches." Or the passage may be rendered, "My soul waiteth for the Lord from the morning watches to the morning watches." That is, "I wait both day and night."
Let Israel hope in the Lord - This, to hope for salvation, is their duty and their interest. But what reason is there for this hope? A twofold reason: -
1. With the Lord there is mercy - החסד hachesed, That mercy, the fund, the essence of mercy.
2. And with him is plenteous redemption - והרבה עמו פדות veharabbah immo peduth; and that abundant redemption, that to which there is none like, the Fountain of redemption, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. The article ה, both in הרבה harabbah and החסד hachesed, is very emphatic.
He shall redeem Israel - Και αυτος υτρωσει, "He will make a ransom for Israel," He will provide a great price for Israel, and by it will take away all his iniquities. I would not restrict this to Israel in Babylon. Every believer may take it to himself. God perfectly justifies and perfectly sanctifies all that come unto him through the Son of his love.