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A lesson in Latin....and Penitential Psalms

Psalm 130, like Carl Bloch's "The Resurrection"
is not so much about death
as it is about life, trust, hope, and mercy.
I've made an effort to memorize Psalm 130...aka the "De Profundis." I know what you're thinking..."But Barbara, that's a funeral song." Well, it is a song normally associated with funerals. However, if you pay closer attention to its words and the context of this song, you will find that it is a beautiful, a very beautiful, penitential psalm. This psalm, though somber, is a message of mercy, salvation, and trust.

In our darkest hours we sometimes find ourselves crying out to God and hoping that He listens. Sometimes we feel that He doesn't listen. Sometimes, a darker sentiment overcomes us and we find ourselves tempted to believe that God has somehow abandoned us. No matter how terrible our lives and struggles may seem at times, God never abandons us. God is always there for us. God is working all around us. We're simply too short-sighted to see his works in action...or realize that His works often take times.

When life gets me down or I find myself feeling sorry for anything terrible that I've done (Yes, I sin too. I'm only human), I turn to this psalm. This song describes our moments of desperation quite well. It describes that yearning in our hearts for God's help. For His mercy. For his companionship. When I recite this psalm, my heart translates the words. Below, I break down the verses of the psalm into the words my heart hears. I hope that, in reading this, you will begin to see this psalm as I see it....not merely as a funeral song...but as a promise, a safeguard, and a form of reassurance when life seems to get the best of us.
"De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine;
Domine, exaudi vocem meam. Fiant aures tuæ intendentes
in vocem deprecationis meæ."

"Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication:"

The longing in my soul compels me to cry out for my Father as a child would cry for their father when they stumble. I wish for Him to hear my voice...not just hear it...but listen to the words and sorrows it carries. Even though I know that I have sinned against Him, I dare call out to Him. He knows me, He understands me, He loves me...even when I cannot find love elsewhere. I cry out with words. I cry out with desperation. I simply lift my own troubles and sorrows to Him. Lord, I am sorry. Lord, I trust in you. Lord, forgive me and do not abandon me.


"Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine, Domine, quis sustinebit?
Quia apud te propitiatio est; et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine."

"If you, O Lord, mark iniquities,
Lord, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
I trust in the Lord;"

Lord, I have sinned against you. The weight of my sin is a terrible burden and though I am unworthy of your grace...I still seek it. I seek it not as one who takes advantage of your mercy and forgiveness. I seek it, rather, as a prodigal son. I may have once been too proud to listen, too selfish to care, too foolish to understand how much you loved me. I may have turned my back on you and listened to empty promises that led me away from you. However, I know I was wrong. I know there is no joy in my own life if I turn away from the source of love, compassion, and mercy. I may not have turned against you, but I have turned away from you...and in doing so, have fallen from grace.

Yet, You are just. You know my heart. You know its sorrow. You know its regret. You know how foolish I was to turn from you and you know how much my heart longs for you. You know my soul will never rest until it rests in You. You, who have created me, know my heart and know its sorrows. You grieved when I was lost to you, and wish to rejoice at my return. You know I have suffered greatly when I turned from you. You know the anguish we suffer when we turn away from you. And yet, in your mercy, you keep calling us. We hear your voice in our hearts, calling for us to return...even when our hearts are hardened against you. Your love never relents and this is why we could never survive without your love....this is why we suffer so much pain when we stray from You.

Lord, I trust in you. I trust in Your love. I trust in Your mercy. I trust Your love for me. You are my God. You are my Father. You are my rock. You are my salvation. My Lord, I trust in You and have always trusted You...even in moments where I thought I believed otherwise.

"Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus:
Speravit anima mea in Domino.
A custodia matutina usque ad noctem, speret Israël in Domino."

"my soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the Lord,
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
More than sentinels wait for the dawn,
let Israel wait for the Lord;"

Foolishly, I walked away from you...but my soul still longs for you. My soul longs to hear Your voice. The laws I once found unfair, are your laws and so I must keep them. I did not wish to hear your words due to pride or some other selfish reason. I thought I knew what was best for me. I thought I would be happy on my own without you. I thought I could live by other laws and rely on other strengths. However, I was wrong. Even when I followed the laws of my own wishes or the laws of those who catered to my pride, sloth, envy, greed, lust, wrath, and gluttony...I felt a longing for your own words and knew that they were just. I knew that they were right. I knew that they were true. Even when I sought other words and other lords, my heart and soul secretly sought You. I longed for your words and your judgment...and still do. I await the day where I hear them again...and await the day when I see You again. I long for You still and I wish to return to You...if You will allow me to return to you....

"Quia apud Dominum misericordia, et copiosa apud eum redemptio.
Et ipse redimet Israël ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus."

For with the Lord is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption;
And he will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.

....And You always allow us to return to you. No matter how hard we fall, what sins we have committed, or how far we wander from Him...He will always wait for us. He will always gather us in his arms and lead us back into His home. He will always seek us. He will always put a longing in our hearts for Him. He will always call out to us, even when we convince ourselves that he does not listen to our supplications. He loves us for He is the source of all love. He will forgive us if we seek his forgiveness...and he will never turn us away if we seek Him. He has always been there for us and will always be there for us.

In this psalm, there is trust. The words of this psalm convey a profound trust in God, a trust in His words, a trust in His mercy...and a promise of salvation. I really wish I had better words to convey how this psalm makes me feel....but I hope that the words above have helped you see that this psalm is way more than just a psalm to be read or sung at funerals.

Pax Vobiscum

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