I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.
~ Zephaniah 3:12
And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.
~ Psalm 40:3
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
~ Isaiah 55:7
Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
~ Romans 5:20-21
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
~ Romans 8:24
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
~ Hebrews 10:35
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
~ Matthew 1:21
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
~ Titus 2:14
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
~ Psalm 103:3-4
And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
~ 1 John 3:5-8
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
~ Romans 6:14
The Forgiveness of Sin, A Practical Exposition Upon Psalm 130:7-8, by John Owen.
“Search the Scriptures.”—John 5:39
Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
~ Psalm 130:7-8
I shall proceed, in the opening of these words, according unto the method already insisted on. First, the meaning of the principal words shall be declared; then, the sense and importance of the whole; thirdly, the relation that they have unto the condition of the soul expressed in the psalm must be manifested;—from all which observations will arise for our instruction and direction in the like cases, wherein we are or may be concerned.
First. Verse 7. “Let Israel hope in the LORD:” ַי ֵּחל ִּי ְש ָר ֵּאל ֵּאל־ ְי ָהוֹה , “Hope, Israel, in Jehovah,”— “trust,” or “expect;” the same word with that, verse 5, “In his word do I hope;” properly, to expect, to look for, which includes hope, and adds some farther degree of the soul’s acting towards God. It is an earnest looking after the thing hoped for: “Expecta ad Dominum,”—hope in him, and look up to him.
“For with the LORD,”—”quia,” or “quoniam,” because seeing that with the Lord,—ַה ֶׂח ֶׂסד , “mercy.” The verb substantive, as usual, is omitted, which we supply, “There is mercy,”—grace, bounty, goodness, good-will. This word is often joined with another, discovering its importance; and that is א ֶׂמתֶׂ , “truth:” .goodness,” or “mercy and truth.” These are, as it were, constituent parts of God’s promises” , ֶׂח ֶׂסד ֶׂו ֱא ֶׂמת It is of goodness, grace, bounty, to promise any undue mercy; and it is of truth or faithfulness to make good what is so promised. The LXX. commonly render this word by ἔλεος,—that is, “pardoning mercy,” as it is everywhere used in the New Testament.
, ִּע ְמךָ ,4 with him,” as before, speaking unto God, verse” , ִּעמוֹ “:And with him is plenteous redemption” , ְפדוּת “:with thee there is;” the meaning of which expression hath been opened at large. “Redemption” from ָפ ָדה , “to redeem;” the same with פ ְדיוֹןִּ , λὑτρωσις, ἀπολύτρωσις, “redemption.” This word is oftenused for a proper redemption, such as is made by the intervention of a price, and not a mere assertion unto liberty by power, which is sometimes also called redemption. Thus it is said of the money that the first-born of the children of Israel, which were above the number of the Levites, were redeemed with, that Moses took ַה ִּפ ְריוֹם , the “redemption;” that is, the redemption-money, the price of their redemption, Numb. 3:49, Ps. 49:8. The redemption of men’s souls is precious; it cost a great price. The redemption, then, that is with God relates unto a price. Goodness or mercy, with respect unto a price, becomes redemption; that is, actively the cause or means of it. What that price is, see Matt. 20:28; 1 Pet. 1:18.
“Plenteous redemption:” ַה ְר ֵּבה , “Multa, copiosa,”—much, abundant, plenteous. It is used both for quantity and quality: much in quantity, or plenteous, abundant; and in quality,—that is, precious, , ָרבוּ “,excellent. And it is applied in a good and bad sense. So it is said of our sins, Ezra. 9:6, “Our sins “are increased” or “multiplied,” or are “great;” many in number, and heinous in their nature or quality. And in the other sense it is applied unto the mercy of God, whereby they are removed; it is great or plenteous, it is excellent or precious.
Verse 8. “And he,”—that is, the Lord Jehovah, he with whom is plenteous redemption,—י ְפ ֶׂדהִּ , “shall redeem,” or make them partakers of that redemption that is with him. “He shall redeem Israel,”—that is, those who hope and trust in him.
“From all his iniquities:” מ ֹכל ֲעוֹנוֹ ָתיוִּ , “His iniquities;” that is, of the elect of Israel, and every individual amongst them. But the word signifies trouble as well as sin, especially that trouble or punishment that is for sin. So Cain expresseth himself upon the denunciation of his sentence: ָנדוֹל ֲעוֹ ִּני ִּמ ְנשוֹא , “My sin,”—that is, the punishment thou hast denounced against my sin,—”is too great or heavy for me to bear,” Gen. 4:13. There is a near affinity between sin and trouble: “Noxam pœna sequitur;”—
“Punishment is inseparable from iniquity.” ֲעוֹן , then, the word here used, signifies either sin with reference unto trouble due to it, or trouble with respect unto sin, whence it proceeds; and both may here be well intended: “God shall redeem Israel from all his sins, and troubles that have ensued thereon.” And this is the signification of the words; which, indeed, are plain and obvious.
And these words close up the psalm. He who began with depths,—his own depths of sin and trouble,— out of which and about which he cried out unto God, is so encouraged by that prospect of grace and forgiveness with God, which by faith he had obtained, as to preach unto others, and to support them in expectation of deliverance from all their sin and trouble also.
And such, for the most part, are all the exercises and trials of the children of God. Their entrance may be a storm, but their close is a calm; their beginning is oftentimes trouble, but their latter end is peace,—peace to themselves, and advantage to the church of God: for men in all ages coming out of great trials of their own have been the most instrumental for the good of others, for God doth not greatly exercise any of his but with some especial end for his own glory.
Secondly, The sense and intendment of the psalmist in these words is to be considered; and that resolves itself into three general parts:—
1. An exhortation or admonition: “Israel, hope in the LORD,” or “expect Jehovah.”
2. A ground of encouragement unto the performance of the duty exhorted unto: “Because with the LORD there is much, plenteous, abundant, precious redemption.”
3. A gracious promise of a blessed issue, which shall be given unto the performance of this duty: “He shall redeem Israel from all his sins, and out of all his troubles.”
1. In the exhortation there occur,—(1.) The persons exhorted,—that is, Israel: not Israel according to the flesh, for “they are not all Israel which are of Israel,” Rom. 9:6; but it is the Israel mentioned, Ps. 73:1, the whole Israel of God, to whom he is good, “such as are of a clean heart,”—that is, all those who are interested in the covenant, and do inherit the promise of their forefather who was first called by that name, all believers. And the psalmist treats them all in general in this matter,—
(1.) Because there is none of them but have their trials and entanglements about sin, more or less. As there is “none that liveth and sinneth not,” so there is none that sinneth and is not entangled and troubled. Perhaps, then, they are not all of them in the same condition with him, in the depths that he was plunged into. Yet more or less, all and every one of them is so far concerned in sin as to need his direction. All the saints of God either have been, or are, or may be, in these depths. It is a good saying of Austin on this place, “Valde sunt in profundo qui non clamant de profundo;”—”None so in the deep as they who do not cry and call out of the deep.” They are in a deep of security who are never sensible of a deep of sin.
(2.) There is none of them, whatever their present condition be, but they may fall into the like depths with those of the psalmist. There is nothing absolutely in the covenant, nor in any promise, to secure them from it. And what befalleth any one believer may befall them all. If any one believer may fall totally away, all may do so, and not leave one in the world, and so an end be put to the kingdom of Christ; which is no small evidence that they cannot so fall. But they may fall into depths of sin. That some of them have done so we have testimonies and instances beyond exception. It is good, then, that all of them should be prepared for that duty which they may all stand in need of, and for a right discharge of it. Besides, the duty mentioned is not absolutely restrained to the condition before described, but it is proper and accommodate unto other seasons also. Therefore are all the Israel of God exhorted unto it.
(2.) The duty itself is, hoping in Jehovah, with such a hope or trust as hath an expectation of relief joined with it. And there are two things included in this duty:—
(1.) The renunciation of any hopes, in expectation of deliverance either from sin or trouble any other way: “Hope in Jehovah.” This is frequently expressed where the performance of this duty is mentioned. See Hos. 14:3; Jer. 3:22, 23. And we have declared the nature of it in the exposition of the first and second verses.
(2.) Expectation from him; and this also hath been insisted on, in the observations from the verses immediately preceding; wherein also the whole nature of this duty was explained, and directions were given for the due performance of it.
2. The encouragement tendered unto this duty is the next thing in the words: “For with the LORD is plenteous redemption;” wherein we may observe,—
(1.) What it is that he professeth as the great encouragement unto the duty mentioned; and that is redemption,—the redemption that is with God: upon the matter, the same with the forgiveness before mentioned, mercy, pardon, benignity, bounty. He doth not bid them hope in the Lord because they were the seed of Abraham, the peculiar people of God, made partakers of privileges above all the people in the world; much less because of their worthiness, or that good that was in themselves; but merely upon the account of mercy in God, of his grace, goodness, and bounty. The mercy of God, and the redemption that is with him, is the only ground unto sinners for hope and confidence in him.
(2.) There are two great concernments of this grace,—the one expressed, the other implied in the words. The first is, that it is much, plenteous, abundant. That which principally discourageth distressed souls from a comfortable waiting on God is, their fears lest they should not obtain mercy from him, and that because their sins are so great and so many, or attended with such circumstances and aggravations, as that it is impossible they should find acceptance with God. This ground of despondency and unbelief the psalmist obviates by representing the fulness, the plenty, the boundless plenty, of the mercy that is with God. It is such as will suit the condition of the greatest sinners in their greatest depths; the stores of its treasures are inexhaustible. And the force of the exhortation doth not lie so much in this, that there is redemption with God, as that this redemption is plenteous or abundant. Secondly, Here is an intimation in the word itself of that relation which the goodness and grace of God proposed hath to the blood of Christ, whence it is called “Redemption.” This, as was showed in the opening of the words, hath respect unto a price, the price whereby we are bought; that is, the blood of Christ. This is that whereby way is made for the exercise of mercy towards sinners. Redemption, which properly denotes actual deliverance, is said to be with God, or in him, as the effect in the cause. The causes of it are, his own grace and the blood of Christ. There are these prepared for the redeeming of believers from sin and trouble unto his own glory. And herein lieth the encouragement that the psalmist proposeth unto the performance of the duty exhorted unto,—namely, to wait on God,—it is taken from God himself, as all encouragements unto sinners to draw nigh unto him and to wait for him must be. Nothing but himself can give us confidence to go unto him; and it is suited unto the state and condition of the soul under consideration. Redemption and mercy are suited to give relief from sin and misery.
3. The last verse contains a promise of the issue of the performance of this duty: “He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” Two things are observable in the words:—
(1.) The certainty of the issue or event of the duty mentioned: ְוהוּא ִּי ְפ ֶׂדה , “And he shall,” or “he will redeem;” he will assuredly do so. Now, although this in the psalmist is given out by revelation, and is a new promise of God, yet, as it relates to the condition of the soul here expressed, and the discovery made by faith of forgiveness and redemption with God, the certainty intended in this assertion is built upon the principles before laid down. Whence, therefore, doth it appear, whence may we infallibly conclude, that God will redeem his Israel from all their iniquities? I answer,—
(1.) The conclusion is drawn from the nature of God. There is forgiveness and redemption with him, and he will act towards his people suitably to his own nature. There is redemption with him, and therefore he will redeem; forgiveness with him, and therefore he will forgive. As the conclusion is certain and infallible, that wicked men, ungodly men, shall be destroyed, because God is righteous and holy, his righteousness and holiness indispensably requiring their destruction; so is the redemption and salvation of all that believe certain on this account,—namely, because there is forgiveness with him. He is good and gracious, and ready to forgive; his goodness and grace requires their salvation.
(2.) The conclusion is certain upon the account of God’s faithfulness in his promises. He hath promised that those who wait on him “shall not be ashamed,”—that their expectation shall not be disappointed; whence the conclusion is certain that in his time and way they shall be redeemed.
(2.) There is the extent of this deliverance or redemption: “Shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” It was showed, in the opening of the verse, that this word denotes either sin procuring trouble, or trouble procured by sin; and there is a respect unto both sin and its punishment. From both, from all of both kinds, God will redeem his Israel; not this or that evil, this or that sin, but from all evil, all sin. He will take all sins from their souls, and wipe all tears from their eyes. Now, God is said to do this on many accounts:—
(1.) On the account of the great cause of all actual deliverance and redemption,—the blood of Christ. He hath laid an assured foundation of the whole work; the price of redemption is paid, and they shall in due time enjoy the effects and fruits of it.(2.) Of the actual communication of the effects of that redemption unto them. This is sure to all the elect of God, to his whole Israel. They shall all be made partakers of them. And this is the end of all the promises of God, and of the grace and mercy promised in them,—namely, that they should be means to exhibit and give out to believers that redemption which is purchased and prepared for them. And this is done two ways:—
1st. Partially, initially, and gradually, in this life. Here God gives in unto them the pardon of their sins, being freely justified by his grace; and, in his sanctification of them through his Spirit, gives them delivery from the power and dominion of sin. Many troubles also he delivers them from, and from all as far as they are penal, or have any mixture of the curse in them.
2dly. Completely,—namely, when he shall have freed them from sin and trouble, and from all the effects and consequents of them, by bringing them unto the enjoyment of himself in glory.
Thirdly, The words being thus opened, we may briefly, in the next place, consider what they express concerning the state, condition, or actings of the soul, which are represented in this psalm.
Having himself attained unto the state before described, and being engaged resolvedly unto the performance of that duty which would assuredly bring him into a haven of full rest and peace, the psalmist applies himself unto the residue of the Israel of God, to give them encouragement unto this duty with himself, from the experience that he had of a blessed success therein. As if he had said unto them, “Ye are now in afflictions and under troubles, and that upon the account of your sins and provocations,—a condition, I confess, sad and deplorable; but yet there is hope in Israel concerning these things. For consider how it hath been with me, and how the Lord hath dealt with me. I was in depths inexpressible, and saw for a while no way or means of delivery; but God hath been pleased graciously to reveal himself unto me, as a God pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin. And in the consolation and supportment which I have received thereby, I am waiting for a full participation of the fruits of his love. Let me therefore prevail with you, who are in the like condition, to steer the same course with me. Only let your expectations be fixed on mercy and sovereign grace, without any regard unto any privilege or worth in yourselves. Rest in the plenteous redemption, those stores of grace which are with Jehovah; and according to his faithfulness in his promises he will deliver you out of all perplexing troubles.”
Having thus opened the words, I shall now only name the doctrinal observations that are tendered from them, and so put a close to these discourses; as,—
Obs. 1. The Lord Jehovah is the only hope for sin-distressed souls: “Hope in the LORD.” This hath been sufficiently discovered and confirmed on sundry passages in the psalm.
Obs. 2. The ground of all hope and expectation of relief in sinners is mere grace, mercy, and redemption: “Hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy.” All other grounds of hope are false and deceiving.
Obs. 3. Inexhaustible stores of mercy and redemption are needful for the encouragement of sinners to rest and wait on God: “With him is plenteous redemption.” Such is your misery, so pressing are your fears and disconsolations, that nothing less than boundless grace can relieve or support you; there are, therefore, such treasures and stores in God as are suited hereunto. “With him is plenteous redemption.”
Obs. 4. The ground of all the dispensation of mercy, goodness, grace, and forgiveness, which is in God to sinners, is laid in the blood of Christ; hence it is here called “Redemption.” Unto this also we have spoken at large before.
Obs. 5. All that wait on God on the account of mercy and grace shall have an undoubted issue of peace: “He shall redeem Israel.” “Let him,” saith God, “lay hold on my arm, that he may have peace, and he shall have peace,” Isa. 27:5.
Obs. 6. Mercy given to them that wait on God, shall, in the close and issue, be every way full and satisfying: “He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.”
And these propositions do arise from the words as absolutely considered, and in themselves. If we mind their relation unto the peculiar condition of the soul represented in this psalm, they will yet afford us the ensuing observations:—
Obs. 1. They who out of depths have, by faith and waiting, obtained mercy, or are supported in waiting from a sense of believed mercy and forgiveness, are fitted, and only they are fitted, to preach and declare grace and mercy unto others. This was the case with the psalmist. Upon his emerging out of his own depths and straits, he declares the mercy and redemption whereby he was delivered unto the whole Israel of God.
Obs. 2. A saving participation of grace and forgiveness leaves a deep impression of its fulness and excellency on the soul of a sinner. So was it here with the psalmist. Having himself obtained forgiveness, he knows no bounds or measure, as it were, in the extolling of it: “There is with God, mercy, redemption, plenteous redemption, redeeming from all iniquity; I have found it so, and so will every one do that shall believe it.”
Now, these observations might all of them, especially the two last, receive a useful improvement; but whereas what I principally intended from this psalm hath been at large insisted on upon the first verses of it, I shall not here farther draw forth any meditations upon them, but content myself with the exposition that hath been given of the design of the psalmist and sense of his words in these last verses.