If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. (Psalm 130:3–6)
If God kept a records of sins, who could stand? That is such a vital question. The answer, of course, is none of us. None of us (not even those of us who get to preach and teach!) are perfect, we all have turned away from God and gone our own way. The idea of a God who keeps a record of sins to hold against us makes us shudder. We could never deal with a God like that, because we could never get near a God like that. We need forgiveness.
This is one of the psalms that would have been sung by travellers to Jerusalem. As the pilgrims made their way to the city, they were heading towards the temple. They came to the place where God dwelt with his people in order to put things right with God. They knew that they needed to deal with their sins, and the things that separated them from God. So they travelled to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and make atonement for their wrongdoing.
We don’t need to go to the temple to deal with our sins, because Jesus has done that for us. Once and for all on the cross, Jesus has paid the price for our wrongdoing. He has made it possible to enter his presence with confidence, not because of sacrifices at the temple, but because of his amazing grace.
With God there is forgiveness, says the psalm, and so you are feared. But this is not the fear of a God who keeps a record of sins against us. Rather it is the awe and wonder of a God who offers us forgiveness and mercy. This is God who is amazing and to whom we can – and we want – to draw near.
So, says the psalm, we wait for God. None of us really like waiting, but we will wait for something that is worth it, something we really want, something we treasure. The psalm calls us to wait more than watchmen wait for the morning. The morning was the end of the shift, so this is like bored employees waiting, finally, for the weekend to come!
What are we willing to wait for? A seat in the best new restaurant? A deal in the sales at a store? A copy of the latest bestseller signed by the author? Will we wait on the Lord more than all these things, because he is our greatest need and our greatest treasure?