The Christmas Psalm

“And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities (Psalm 130:8).”

A Psalm from the Dead Sea Scrolls

How does Psalm 130 relate to celebrating the story of a Jewish baby’s birth in Israel over 2,000 years ago?  Good question.  Let’s look at a few choice words to see God’s plot.

The Hebrew word here for “redeem” is padah, which means to ransom or release, what we would define as “an outsider intervening to free someone from a bad situation.”  We’ve all seen the movie, the rich parent gives up millions to get their kidnapped child back.  That’s Hollywood, but God’s Christmas storyline is much more real, and personal.  

From beyond Eternity, viewing Earth from God’s perspective, you are that child, being held captive by unseen chains, and God is dropping off a bagful of cash.  At this time of year, a favorite Christmas carol comes to mind when we talk about a “ransom.”

The Lindbergh ransom note

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel…and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appears,” a desperate plea for God to come and rescue us, but from what?  “Long lay the world in sin and error pining.”  Our own sin and judgment.

This baby is God Himself, disguised in flesh and blood, who pierced Time and Space, for one purpose…our reclamation, an old Dickens-like word defined as “the process of claiming something back, or of reasserting a right,” like saving Ebenezer Scrooge’s soul.  

Jesus did just that…He came in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies to rescue Israel, to take back His own who were in exile, held captive by sin, powerless to stop a horrible outcome––a righteous judgment on our sin.  Thankfully, God loves not only Israel, but all of us too.  This is the Christmas story, a story of a helpless child being held captive and then rescued by another Child who dies for us.  Psalm 130 lays it all out.

Psalm 130

Read it for yourself, and then consider His Christmas gift to redeem your own soul.   

•  A desperate, nowhere to turn cry for help (verses 1-2).

•  Our chains of sin binding us, and preventing us from even standing up (verse 3).

•  But God is listening, more than ready to help, to forgive us (verse 4).

•  His Word, His faithful promises, are our only hope for rescue (verse 5).

•  We strain to see His arrival through our darkness (verse 6).

•  We hope in His great love and His overwhelming desire to save us (verse 7).

•  He will save us, He promised to come, and then He did come…to Bethlehem (verse 8).

The problem in this story is the ending­––the captive is unwilling to be saved.  That’s the part you play, be willing to be rescued, to repent (change your mind about running away from your Rescuer).  You have to give up, surrender, and believe in Jesus’ payment for your sins on the cross is enough, that His resurrection proved His bagful of cash was sufficient to bring you home to a heartbroken Father.  And that’s how Psalm 130 relates…for a Merry Christmas!.

The star of “Ransom” with the Ransom.

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