Psalm 130:1-2 Commentary + Memorization Tutorial | #VOTD

Meaning of Psalm 130

Verse of the Day 6.30.17 — Psalm 130:1-2

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD;
2 Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.1

  1. Context
    1. Literary Structure
    2. Song of Ascents
    3. Penitential Psalm
  2. Commentary
    1. Out of the Depths
    2. Attentive
    3. Cry For Mercy
    4. Summary
  3. Memorization
  4. Application


Literary Structure

As stated in an earlier Instagram Post, the Book of Psalms consists of five books that may plausibly correspond thematically to the first five books of the Bible:

  • Book 1: 1-41
  • Book 2: 42-72
  • Book 3: 73-89
  • Book 4: 90-106
  • Book 5: 107-150

Songs of Ascents

Psalm 130 falls within a group of 15 Psalms within Book 5 known as Songs of Ascents (Psalm 120-134).  According to scholars, these songs may have been sung as the Israelites, coming from near and far, would “go up” to the Temple in Jerusalem for certain festivals. The word used for “go up” is used in several cases when individuals ascend to the sacred place to worship God (1 Sam 1:3, Psa 122:4, Isa 2:3).2

Alternatively, “going up” (aliyah) or ascending may refer to the return of the Israelite exiles from captivity in Babylon. The journey of Ezra from Babylon to Jerusalem is called his aliyah 3 — the term also used to describe the immigration of Jews to Israel around 1934.4

In either case, ascending refers to travelling to or returning to a holy place of God for worship. In this particular case, the ascent may be that of the gathering, led by Ezra and Nehemiah, for the Feast of Tabernacles in 445 B.C.5

Penitential Psalm

This song of ascent has also been come to be recognized as the sixth of the seven penitential psalms6— Psalm 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143.7 Penitence means “regret for sin or wrongdoing. [It] implies sad and humble realization of and regret for one’s misdeeds.”8 From the times of the early Church to the Middle Ages, these Psalms were recited on Fridays during Lent. Also, in the Book of Common Prayer, they are the Proper Psalms for Ash Wednesday.9 Interestingly, this moving Psalm may have played a pivotal role in the 1738 conversion of John Wesley.10


Out of the Depths

These depths are most likely metaphorical depths of despair11 and distress.12


The Hebrew word for attentive means, “pertaining to listening to a request, implying that a response is then given (2Ch 6:40; 7:15; Ps 130:2+).”13

Cry for Mercy

The psalmist is imploring that God, to use language from the hymn, “Pass Me Not”, hear his/(her?) humble cry.


In these first two lines of the penitential Psalm, from the author’s distress, the psalmist cries out to the LORD for mercy. The psalmist begs for mercy for sin (Psalm 130:3-4), trustingly waits for the LORD (Psalm 130:5-6), and then exhorts all of Israel to do the same (Psalm 130:7) — for the forgiving God will redeem Israel from their sins.


Using the How To Memorize Any Bible Verse In Less Than Five Minutes method, you can memorize this and any scripture in no time! Watch a video tutorial below:


How might we apply this verse today? Personally, it gives me great comfort to know that we, like the psalmist, can cry out to LORD and ask humbly for forgiveness. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that we are far from perfect people. If we say we do not sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 Jn 1:8). But, if we confess our sins, we know we serve a faithful and just God who will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn 1:9).

As they say, the first step is to acknowledge that one has a problem. As we become conscious of our sin through God’s word (Rom 3:20), or through our own (reasonable) feelings of guilt and shame, we should feel a sense of penitence and a need for forgiveness. Such forgiveness is available to all people through active trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Ac 10:43). To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever! Amen! (1 Pet 4:11).

How can you apply this verse to your life? Please feel free to leave a comment below. I pray this post was helpful. Thank you for studying the Word at! God Bless!


  1. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ps 130:1–2.
  2. Michael Wilcock, The Message of Psalms: Songs for the People of God, ed. J. A. Motyer, vol. 2, The Bible Speaks Today (Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2001), 219.
  3. Wilcock, 219
  4. Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).
  5. Wilcock, 220
  6. Derek Kidner, Psalms 73–150: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 16, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1975), 482.
  7. Derek Kidner, Psalms 1–72: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 15, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 77.
  8. Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).
  9. F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1500.
  10. Wilcock, 238
  11. Ibid
  12. Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), 771.
  13. James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
About @DannyScottonJr 215 Articles
Imperfect Servant ✝📖⛪ | Husband | Princeton U. Alum | M. Div. | Assistant (to the) Pastor | Sound Doctrine & Apologetics @catchforchrist