If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. (Psalm 130:3-5—NIV)

This quote is taken from one of the penitential psalms bearing lasting significance as a psalm of supreme grief over personal sin and the offense it communicates to our Holy God. It keeps hallowed company with Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 112 and 143.

The psalm identifies the feeling of urgency of the author by crying out of the "depths." The cry for mercy ascends before the Sovereign Master in the plea to be heard in the first two verses. Then we come to the very foundation upon which the plea rests. The servant sues for mercy from his Master

First, there is a bowing to the reality that without clemency from God all would perish and fail to "endure" or "survive." The author plainly states that when Jehovah keeps account of the distortion of His righteous standards by bending and twisting God’s law to accommodate man’s purpose, then no human being could stand upon his own self-righteousness and face the just wrath of God. All men, of all ages are declared guilty of violating God’s eternal law. None are innocent. None can survive.

The resolution of this hopeless calamity is in verse 4. Forgiveness does exist. The one asking to be forgiven has a true-hearted craving for pardon, for sparing, for grace. There is nothing lighthearted about this word forgiveness. It implies debt which cannot be paid by the debtor, nor a proving period after which all debt is forgiven. There is no work "good" enough which would indenture God to be in turn indebted to the debtor and force God to wipe the sinner’s account clean. It is purely by God’s grace that the chance of forgiveness would exist, and yet the verse indicates that proffered forgiveness does indeed exist.

The effect upon the forgiven is the last phrase of verse 4, "that You may be feared," not to be presumed upon. An old Welshman once prayed, "O Lord, we thank Thee that there is forgiveness with Thee, enough to frighten us…." God’s alone is the power to forgive.

The effect on the believer is that he awaits the pleasure of God. All hope for the Christian rests firmly, soundly, and uniformly on the word of God. Forgiveness among men is only as good as the truthfulness of the forgiver. Eternal offenses need a "God-kind" of forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is as good as His "Word." No wonder the Bible is called "The Word of Life!" Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world?