More Than Watchmen Wait for the Morning: My brother is in the special forces of the U.S. Marines. He’s gone through all sorts of strange and unusual training exercises. Like the week he had to go without sleep. There was an entire week in which he was not allowed to sleep at all. He got up on a Monday morning and didn’t sleep again until the next Monday evening. I can’t imagine that! I remember asking him if it was hard. He said, “No, it wasn’t that bad.” But he admitted what the hardest part was—the last two hours of each night. After their activities were done, as the night dragged on, the worst part was struggling through the last two hours of each night, longing for the sun to finally come up.
That makes me think of this phrase: “I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” Can you imagine an exhausted watchman just longing to see the light? That’s the way the Bible describes a Christian’s longing for God. Maybe you’re not a night watchman, but it doesn’t have to be dark for your life to be dark. I bet your heart is longing too. Maybe you can’t put your finger on it. Maybe you don’t know exactly what words to use to describe it, even when the tears come to your eyes. But your heart is longing. Your heart is longing for something even more than watchmen wait for the morning.
If you ever feel that longing, then you know just what a man in the Bible says today, “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.” To put it another way, “God, help!” This man was in the depths. Everywhere else in the Bible, the word “depths” is used to talk about the deepest part of the ocean. That’s where this man felt he was. Drowning in water way over his head. Wave after wave of life choking him, pushing him under. He was completely incapable of saving himself. So he screamed, “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.” “God, help!”
Is that where you’re at today? In “the depths”? I bet many of us are. From military bases to high schools in Wisconsin, this week showed how many people are struggling. If that’s where you’re at today—the depths!—know that you’re not the only one. This man was there too. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. We’ve all hit rock bottom, only to find there’s no bottom. We just go down even further. Maybe it’s a sickness. Or depression. Or a death. Or rejection. “Out of the depths.” Like you’ve been plopped in the middle of the ocean. Waves and wind pounding you. Nothing to stand on. No one to save you. Alone, except for God. Is that where you’re at today?
That’s exactly how this man felt, except he wasn’t thinking about violence or loneliness. There’s an even deeper depths than all of those things. Know what it is? “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?” What’s the deepest, darkest place? Our sin. “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?” More deadly than cancer. Darker than depression. Sin hurls us into a hole we can’t climb out of. You can’t make sin right. You can’t take sin back. Trying to dig yourself out of the depths of sin is like trying to keep from drowning in the middle of the ocean. “Out of the depths.” All you can say is, “Help!”
If God were to actually keep a list of our sins, how long would it be? I tried to figure it out. Let’s say we sin about five times an hour. I bet it’s way more than that. The sinful thoughts. The harsh words. The selfish actions. But if we sin five times an hour, that’s about 80 sins a day. 80 sins a day equals 29,200 sins a year. The average person lives about 75 years. Do you know how many sins that would be in a lifetime? 2,190,000. To put that into perspective, about 50 lines of text fit onto one page. That means my sins would be a list 43,800 pages long. All those pages would stretch for 7.6 miles. Just my sins. “If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?”
Can you imagine having all your sins unrolled before you? It’s starting to get uncomfortable, isn’t it? You saw that scantily clad woman pop up on the screen, so you clicked on it. You smile every time you see that person, but in your heart you hate them. Can you imagine having all those sins unrolled before you? People love keeping a record of other people’s sins. What if God were like that? Isn’t that terrifying? You talk about depths. Our sins plunge us into the darkest depths from which we could never escape on our own. What can we say? “Help! Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.”
Why would God hear? Because he promised. The phrase “let your ears be attentive” is only used in one other place. When King Solomon finished building the temple, he prayed, “Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place” (2 Chronicles 6:40). The same prayer! Know how God responded? “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:14-15 NIV). Why would God hear? When people repent of their sins, God hears and God forgives. That’s God’s promise!
This guy in the depths remembered those words, and he clung to God’s promise. “But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” All that math about sin that I did? You don’t need to know that. Because God doesn’t keep track of our sins. There is no long list in heaven. “With you there is forgiveness.” When we are in the depths, we need to look outside of ourselves. Forgiveness comes from Jesus! “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7 NIV). “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2 NIV). With God there is forgiveness. For you. For me!
Here’s how big God’s forgiveness is. Remember how long a list of sins we have? We said about 7.5 miles long. Experts say that in the history of the world there have been about 107 billion people. So when Jesus died on the cross, how many sins did he carry with him? 802.5 billion miles worth. That’s 430 trips to the sun and back. Jesus piled all those sins on his back when he died for us on the cross. People say, “I love you to the moon and back.” Jesus loves you so much more! It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but Jesus says to you, “I love you 430 trips around the sun and back.” Or, “I love you to the cross and back.” With God, there is forgiveness!
So, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Can you hear this man preach to himself? He’s preaches these words into his own soul: “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Even when you’re in the depths, there is hope. Preach that to your soul! Forgiveness comes from God. We wait for the Lord and put our hope in his Word. How much do we wait for the Lord? Remember where we started? “I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”
When my brother told me about the week he didn’t sleep, he said the last two hours of each night were the worst. But then he added this: The moment the sun started to come up, everything was good again. When he saw the first streaks of light stream across the sky, relief would flood his body, and he would be okay for another whole day. This is what Jesus and his Word do for you and me. When we’re in the darkest moments of life, it might seem like it’s never going to end. But Jesus and his forgiveness and love are new every morning. It’s Jesus’ Word and Jesus’ promises that fill our bodies and our souls with hope for another day. Are you in the depths? You’re not alone. “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”
Remember the story I told on Easter Sunday? No? Then I can tell it again! A man once told a story about his Navy SEAL training. In the middle of Hell Week, the recruits had to go into the mud. Mud up to their necks. For 15 hours. Cold. Exhausted. Groaning. In the depths. The instructors offered a deal: If just five of you quit, we can stop. The groans increased. Some men were ready to give in. Then suddenly a voice in the back started singing. It wasn’t singing on key. In fact, it sounded downright awful, but it was singing. And then another voice joined in. And another. And soon every single man was singing. The instructors yelled and cursed at them. They threatened that if they kept singing they’d never get out of the mud. But the men kept singing. And as the now admiral later described it, “Somehow the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away.” Do you know what that was? Hope.
That hope is what God’s Word calls out to you today. Hope. You might feel in the depths. You might see your sins piling up. The devil is going to tell you to give up and give in. But there’s a voice that’s singing. “With God there is forgiveness. In his Word I put my hope. With God there is forgiveness. In his Word I put my hope.” The devil has tried, but he can never silence that song of hope. “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”
That song of hope isn’t just for us. It’s for everyone! “Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” When everything else fails, the Lord’s unfailing love never does. When everyone points out your faults, Jesus points you to his cross. Jesus’ redemption forgives every one of our sins. Let that hope ring out. To those in the depths. To those in darkness. “Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” There’s hope!
So why do we still have to wait? Why will our lives get dark again? Because we’re not in heaven yet! I hope you leave today on a spiritual high, but I guarantee there will be more lows. You’re going to sin again. You’re going to be in the depths again. That’s the life of a Christian. Sin. Repentance. Forgiveness. Hope. Repeat. So when you find yourself in the depths, remember:
“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; 2 Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. 3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. 5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. 7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. 8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” (Psalm 130 NIV)
We thank Pastor Nathan Nass and https://www.breadforbeggars.com/ for this week's blog.
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