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Daily Reformation, Psalm 130:1-8
From the Reformer
“But let Israel hope in Jehovah.” After having spoken of himself, and exhibited in his own person an example for all to follow, he now applies the doctrine to the whole body of the Church. It is to be noticed that the foundation upon which he would have the hope of all the godly to rest is the mercy of God, the source from which redemption springs. In the first clause he reminds them that although they bring with them no worth or merits of their own, it ought to suffice them that God is merciful. This mutual relation between the faith of the Church and the free goodness of God is to be attentively marked, to the end we may know that all those who, depending upon their own merits, persuade themselves that God will be their rewarder, have not their hope regulated according to the rule of Scripture. From this mercy, as from a fountain, the Prophet derives redemption; for there is no other cause which moves God to manifest himself as the redeemer of his people but his mercy. He describes this redemption as plenteous, that the faithful, even when reduced to the last extremity, may sustain themselves from the consideration that there are in the hand of God many and incredible means by which to save them. This Psalm may have been composed at a time when the Church was in so very afflicted a condition as might have discouraged one and all, had not the infinite greatness of the power of God served as a buckler to defend them. The true use of the present doctrine is, first, that the faithful, even when plunged in the deepest gulfs, should not doubt of their deliverance being in the hand of God, who, whenever necessity shall require, will be able to find means, which are now hidden and unknown to us; and, secondly, that they should hold it as certain, that as often as the Church shall be afflicted he will manifest himself to be her deliverer.
—John Calvin, Commentary on Psalms
Pulling It Together
The drowning victim’s instinct is to stay atop the water until the lifeguard gets to him and then, to stay atop the one who would save him. He fights the rescuer, clawing his way to the air, trying to push the stronger swimmer under the water so that he can use him as an island. People are much the same with God, simply using him to fight for immediate salvation. God is more interested in getting you safely to the shores of heaven than he is your feeling safe for the moment. This is why he will sometimes, like a lifeguard will, allow you to falter until, exhausted, you have little choice but to give up. Just as you are about to go under forever, his strong arms take hold and do the swimming for you.
It is not just you. The Church has always labored to be saintly. Still, at times saints sink into the gulf and descend into the valley. But the valley need not be one of despair nor the gulf that which overwhelms. God is the Deliverer. Just when you think it is all over is actually the time to renew your hope. You may still see things through to the finish because the Deliverer will carry you there. Never give up hope!
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers