Weds 26th April - Psalm 126
A song of ascents.
1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of[a] Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.[b]
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes,[c] Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
- Psalm 126:1 Or Lord brought back the captives to
- Psalm 126:1 Or those restored to health
- Psalm 126:4 Or Bring back our captives
Meditation on Psalm 126
Here is another of the Songs of Ascent as the people of God went up to Jerusalem to celebrate one of the festivals.
This psalm has particular reference to the ending of exile.
Different translations suggest a different timeline.
Most link this with the return from exile under Ezra and Nehemiah.
Ezra 1:1-4: In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfil the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”
Others link it with David’s return from his brief exile from Jerusalem following Absalom’s attempted coup. 2 Samuel 15-19
Others suggest that this doesn’t have to be limited to one particular event but speaks of rescue, release and redemption from many situations and circumstances.
In Psalm 137 we get a glimpse of the pain of exile.
‘By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?’
In Psalm 126 we get a glimpse of the joy of freedom.
‘Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.’
It was the Gentile nations that looked on and rejoiced at the freedom that the LORD had brought about – ‘the LORD has done great things for THEM...’ (capitals are mine)
Then the people rejoiced at the freedom the LORD had brought about.
‘The LORD has done great things for US…’ (capitals are mine)
Isn’t this our testimony as those who have been in exile but have ben rescued and brought into the freedom that Jesus alone can bring because of His death on the Cross, His resurrection from the grave and His coming again in glory?
We can sing, ‘the Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.’
And the psalmist exclaims ‘we were like those who dreamed.’
It’s as if they couldn’t possibly be rescued. They would never know freedom again.
Job must have thought he was dreaming when his fortunes were restored with interest after all the sufferings he had gone through.
Job 42:10 and 12: ‘After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before… The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.’
Peter thought he was dreaming when he was freed from jail.
Acts 12:8-10: ‘Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
Edwin Orr, in his book, ‘All your Need’, records a description by J. Oswald Saunders of the 1936 revival at Ngaruawahia in New Zealand: ‘For some time before Easter, a spirit of unusual expectancy had been kindled in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, but the reality far exceeded the expectation. Those of us who were responsible for the conduct of the camp had the great joy of sitting back and seeing God work in a sovereign way. We were as men that dreamed.’
We look back with thanksgiving at the great things the Lord has done in our lives and is still doing but we must also look forward to more. And that was the psalmist’s prayer in verses 4-6.
The Negev is in the southern part of Israel, where the land is very dry and the streams flow intermittently. But when the rains come, the streams overflow, the plants grow and the land becomes green. Once again, the crops are produced and the people are fed.
The psalmist longs for this to happen again.
It’s hard work being a farmer – ‘those who sow with tears’ but it’s so rewarding when the results are so positive – ‘will reap with songs of joy.’
Here is a picture of the ongoing work of the people of God. Today, that’s the church – His church.
Perhaps there are times when it seems as if we are ‘in exile’ and longing for that rescue, that release, that redemption. And then it happens. We meet Jesus and He changes our lives – he blots out the past, he doesn’t stop forgiving us for the present and he is preparing a place for us in the future. Does this all seem like a dream?
May our dreams turn into reality as we sing those new redemption songs and pray for continued blessings as we sow and reap, singing ‘songs of joy’.
May our witness, as we sow the seed of God’s word, bring forth ‘sheaves’ of fruit in the lives of many people.