October 31st, 2014 | By admin
by Paul Holland
We are heading into the season of holidays. It begins with Halloween when you fill up with candy corn, my favorite vegetable. For our family, Jewell’s birthday is around this time as well as we fill up on birthday cake and ice cream. Then at the end of November, we have Thanksgiving and our family likes turkey. It seems like you barely get all that food digested when Christmas rolls around. A week later is New Year’s and more good food.
This season is the season of thanksgiving, giving, and joy.
Psalm 126 is a psalm of joy, based, as it is, in the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon where their families had been for 70 years. Let’s take a look at this psalm.
JOY COMES AFTER SORROW – 126:1-2:
Verse 1 – “The captive ones” sets this psalm in the context of an exile, probably the Babylonian exile. Observe that the author recognizes that it is the Lord who brought them back from exile. The Jews knew they did not deserve to be returned to their land. They knew they had been guilty of sin, idolatry, ungodliness. But God, in His mercy, brought them back to their land.
Verse 2a – This joy brought laughter to their mouths and joyful shouting to their tongue. Most of us like to laugh. Sorrow comes but joy can come afterward. Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame because of thejoy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:2).
JOY RESULTS FROM GOD’S BLESSINGS – 126:2b-3:
Verse 2b – When the Jews had returned to Palestine, the news was spread abroad that Israel’s God had brought them back. They gave glory to the God of heaven. What had been done among God’s people was talked about among those who were not God’s people.
Verse 3 – In this verse, the author agrees with the Gentiles, the nations, that God had done great things for them. For that, they were glad (cf. James 1:17).
When we experience wonderful blessings in our lives, we need to let people know that we believe these blessings are from God. They are not due to our strength, our talent, our education, our skills. They are a blessing from God.
JOY COMES FROM PRAYER – 126:4-5:
Verse 4 – In this verse, the author prays and asks God to bring them back from their captivity and restore them in a plentiful way, with bountiful blessings, as the “streams in the south.” The “streams in the south” would refer to the streams that receive all the rain and melted snow from the streams and mountains upstream. That is how we picture the blessings of God.
Clearly, when we experience times of sorrow, we need to count our many blessings, listing them one by one. “Our God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Eph. 3:20).
Verse 5 – Because of God’s plentiful blessings, you might sow in tears but you will reap with joyful shouting. God has a way of turning our negative experiences, our run of bad luck, into blessings that we could not have imagined (cf. Matthew 5:3-4).
In the context of the psalm, this sowing in tears likely refers to the tears shed by the faithful Jews as they repented of the idolatry that took them into exile in the first place. Now, they are rejoicing, reaping the results of that repentance – a restored relationship with God.
JOY FOLLOWS THE HARVEST – 126:6:
Verse 6 – This is an elaboration on verse 5 but ties back in to verse 2. If you weep while you sow, God will cause you to come again with a shout of joy, bringing your harvest with you. Good things come to those who wait on the Lord.
As Christians, once we have died with Christ in baptism (Rom. 6:3-4), we will also reap the joyful harvest of an eternal life through His resurrection!
Don’t give up when sorrow falls. Trust in God and His harvest of blessings will bring you joy.