The circumstances in which Dr. John Owen's Exposition of Psalm 130 originated are peculiarly interesting. Dr. Owen himself, in a statement made to Mr. Richard Davis, who ultimately became pastor of a church in Rowel, Northamptonshire, explains the occasion which led him to a very careful examination of the fourth verse in the Psalm. Mr. Davis, being under religious impressions, had sought a conference with Owen. In the course of the conversation, Dr. Owen put the question, "Young man, pray in what manner do you think to go to God?" "Through the Mediator, sir", answered Mr. Davis. "That is easily said", replied the doctor, "but I assure you it is another thing to go to God through the Mediator than many who make use of the expression are aware of. I myself preached Christ", he continued, "some years, when I had but very little, if any, experimental acquaintance with access to God through Christ; until the Lord was pleased to visit me with sore affliction, whereby I was brought to the mouth of the grave, and under which my soul was oppressed with horror and darkness; but God graciously relieved my spirit by a powerful application of Ps 130:4, But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared, from whence I received special instruction, peace and comfort, in drawing near to God through the Mediator, and preached thereupon immediately after my recovery."—William H. Goold, editor of Owen's Collected Works, 1851.
Out Of The Depths I Cry To You, O Lord. Psalms 130:1
The entire human race finds itself spiritual dead and separated from God due to Adam’s original sin. “…death came through a man...” “…For just as in Adam all die…” 1Corinthians 15:21-22
“…a rebel from birth.” Isaiah 48:8
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
“…Dead in your transgressions and sins, …live according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience, among whom all of us also live out lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and by nature children of wrath…” Ephesians 2:1-3
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things." Henry David Thoreau
Israel’s King David, a living, breathing human being, invokes upon God; and exhorts his fellow subjects, the Israelites, fellow human beings subject to like passions as he, to follow his example by calling upon God for them.
Under the inspirational breath of God, King David pens these three verses
3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.
7. O Israel put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
Two opposite emotionally and psychological powerful feelings that all members of the human race undergo most plainly are fear and hope.
When I hear the word fear I think of a suffering emotion that may be stirring up feelings of impending doom within me affecting my parasympathetic nervous system located in my autonomic central nervous system.
When I hear the word fear, I think that I am not in control of my environment, a circumstance, an unpredictable animal, of the unpredictable behavior of an interloper, who may or may not have his sights aimed at me. In addition I may also be at the mercy of whatever or whomever I am afraid of.
Whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid is real at the time I am experiencing the fear.
When David uses the Hebrew word for fear the word is ירא yare’ 3372 yare' yaw-ray' for a primitive root; to fear; morally, to revere; caus. to frighten:--affright, be (make) afraid, dread (-ful), (put in) fear (-ful, -fully, -ing), (be had in) reverence (-end), X see, terrible (act, -ness, thing). 3373 yare' yaw-ray' from 3372; fearing; morally, reverent:--afraid, fear (-ful). Strong’s Concordance with Greek and Hebrew Lexicon
When I think of fear when David uses ירא yare’ the two of us may be communicating similar uses of the word.
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the orchard. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” The man replied, “I heard you moving about in the orchard, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” And the Lord God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave me, she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.” So the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman replied, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:8-13
For Adam was formed first and then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, because she was fully deceived, fell into transgression.1Timothy 2:13-14
Adam eyes were open and for the first time recognized guilt for being naked before God he became afraid. The Hebrew word used in Genesis 3:10 for afraid in verse is the same word for feared used by Israel’s King in Psalm 130 verse 4.
The apostle, Matthew writing within his Gospel quotes the Lord Jesus, the Son of David “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28
The wisest of all human beings, Israel’s King Solomon, the Son of David, writes By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD [men] depart from evil. Proverbs 16:6
King David concludes his penitential psalm 130 with this “O Israel put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” Verses 7
When I hear the word hope, the first thing that I think of is a desire coming within my heart and mind. My heart is emotional and feels. My mind is analytical and thinks. Emotionally I look forward feeling that something may happen positively in certain cases and negative in other cases. I look forward in hope that something good may result for my benefit. I have done some preparation perhaps and hope that the results turn out the way I expect them to be.
In addition, when I hear the word hope, it may also include hoping for something negative too. The definition may still be the same. For example after one hurls revengeful statements at another using the word, “hope” one may still be looking forward for the worst possible results imaginable towards another with desire and confidence. I can’t visualize using the word fear in a negative as I can hope.
Idiom: hope against hope, to continue to hope, although the outlook does not warrant it: We are hoping against hope for a change in her condition. www.dictionary.com
When David uses the Hebrew word for hope the word is יחל yachal 3176 yachal yaw-chal' a primitive root; to wait; by implication, to be patient, hope:--(cause to, have, make to) hope, be pained, stay, tarry, trust, wait. Strong’s Concordance with Greek and Hebrew Lexicon
Then Bildad the Shuhite spoke up and said: “How long will you speak these things, seeing that the words of your mouth are like a great wind? Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert what is right?
If your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin. But if you will look to God, and make your supplication to the Almighty, if you become pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself for you, and will restore your righteous abode. Your beginning will seem so small, since your future will flourish.
“For inquire now of the former generation and pay attention to the findings of their ancestors; for we were born yesterday and do not have knowledge, since our days on earth are but a shadow.
Will they not instruct you and speak to you, and bring forth words from their understanding? Can the papyrus plant grow tall where there is no marsh? Can reeds flourish without water?
While they are still beginning to flower and not ripe for cutting, they can wither away faster than any grass!
Such is the destiny of all who forget God; the hope of the godless perishes whose trust is in something futile, whose security is a spider’s web. He leans against his house but it does not hold up, he takes hold of it but it does not stand. He is a well-watered plant in the sun, its shoots spread over its garden. It wraps its roots around a heap of stones and it looks for a place among stones. If he is uprooted from his place, then that place will disown him, saying, ‘I have never seen you!’ Indeed, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth others spring up. “Surely, God does not reject a blameless man, nor does he grasp the hand of the evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with gladness. Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more.” Job 8:2-22
For what hope do the godless have when he is cut off, when God takes away his life? Job 27:8
“O that my words were written down, O that they were written on a scroll, that with an iron chisel and with lead they were engraved in a rock forever! As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that as the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God, whom I will see for myself, and whom my own eyes will behold, and not another. My heart grows faint within me.
If you say, ‘How we will pursue him, since the root of the trouble is found in him!’
Fear the sword yourselves, for wrath brings the punishment by the sword, so that you may know that there is judgment.” Job 19:23-29
Hope You In God
But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. He called you to this salvation through our gospel, so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold on to the traditions that we taught you, whether by speech or by letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good thing you do or say. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17