Elder Bible Study – April 3, 2014

Photo Apr 03, 10 30 29 AMWe had such a good crowd today for our Elder Bible Study! In today’s study we took a look at Psalm 130 and how the psalmist cries from the depths. He’s not speaking literally of course but figuratively, as we do when we say we feel down today or we are down in the dumps. One thing we can appreciate about the Psalms is that they relate to real life. Not all of the psalms are pretty passages about blue skies and sun-shiny days. Most are upbeat, but there is honest depression, confusion and also doubt in the psalms. Just like life, sometimes.

The elders described the psalmist’s attitude as being ‘desperate, fearful, and insistent.’ But it also sounded like the psalmist was letting go. Sometimes we hold onto our fears and failures, we nurture our pains and sorrows—and there is a relief when we finally say, “okay, I cannot deal with this anymore on my own. God, help me!” 

I read the following from Anne Lamott’s book, “Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers.”

“There’s freedom in hitting bottom, in seeing that you won’t be able to save or rescue your daughter, her spouse, his parents, or your career, relief in admitting you’ve reached the place of great unknowing. This is where restoration can begin, because when you’re still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable, everything bad is engaged: the chatter of your mind, the tension of your physiology, all the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past. It’s exhausting, crazy-making. Help. Help us walk through this. Help us come through. It is the first great prayer.”


All of the elders agreed with Lamott, that when we’re at our lowest is when our minds are the busiest, we can’t sleep, we ache. All of them had experienced this at one point or another in their lives.

We understood through this psalm how problematic it can be if our only image of God is some great scorekeeper, always keeping a record of our wrongs, our sins. We all agreed that this is not a healthy view of God. That yes God is a just and judging God but he is also a God of help and forgiveness. We’ve got to balance these two views.

We talked about having long nights. Like waiting for news from someone who has been missing or is late on curfew. Or maybe we’re just struggling with an issue that won’t let us rest. We determined that psalmist attitude was patience but he wasn’t just passively waiting. He cried out and made petition to God and actively displayed his hope in God?

We live on hope. The basis for such hope is found in the promises of a dependably loving and forgiving God. Hope is what keeps us going.

To connect this psalm with a lesson from the New Testament we thought about how sometimes our storms seem unending and perilous. In one such storm the disciples were literally sinking toward the depths. We read Matthew 14:22-33 and considered how Psalm 130 may have influenced the way the gospel writer of Matthew wrote his story. It was pretty easy to see the connection.

We wrapped up our bible study by singing an older gospel song of the testimony of a person who was once “in the depths.” It was published in 1912 and became one of the most popular songs in the hymnal. I gave them these teasers and asked them to guess what song we might sing. There were a few guesses and then elder Reajean Grubb came up with the right answer, “Love Lifted Me!” In this song there is initial despair, but the chief message is about the hope that God gives help and salvation to those who call.

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more;
But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me.
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me.

Sometimes the only prayer we have is the word, “help!” We make this cry when we are low and needy. And we hope and turst God can still hear us. We pray for those who have no other prayer today.

Chaplain Derek