Friday, July 10, 2020
The Vision (7.10.20): Psalm 126: Restoration Song
Image: Phlox David, North Garden, Virginia, July 2020
Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Psalm 126.
The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad (Psalm 126:3).
Psalm 126 is set at the time of Israel’s return or restoration from exile. So, it begins, “When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion we were like them that dream” (v. 1). This return came after some 70 years of bondage in Babylon with the edict of Cyrus, when the Persians had toppled the Babylonians (see 2 Chron 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-3).
Psalm 126 is, then, a Restoration Song. In v. 3a the Psalmist exults, “The LORD hath done great things for us.” Spurgeon called this verse, “the marrow of the whole Psalm.” The words here recall the words of the old gospel hymn: “Great things he hath taught us, great things he hath done.”
We see here the sanctified insight of looking back in hindsight, in retrospect. The exile was a catastrophe, but the Psalmist sees the good that the Lord wrought in those circumstances and the liberation he accomplished.
The last statement in v. 3b is the summary perhaps of the entire Psalm: “whereof we are glad.” This tells us that there is a place in the Christian life for expression of gladness, for exuberant praise.
Christ himself set us a model for this. In Luke 10:21 we read of a time when Christ “rejoiced in the Spirit” and burst into a spontaneous praise to the Father, which began, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth.”
The apostles continued the pattern, as demonstrated when Paul exhorted the Philippians to praise even while he was himself imprisoned: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Phil 4:4). There is a pattern here for us to follow.
Psalm 126 ends with a promise of fruitfulness after tears, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaths with him” (v. 6).
We are here encouraged to be fruitful, to go forth weeping, bearing precious seed, confident not in ourselves, but in the Lord, so that in due time he will bring about a great harvest.
We are reminded overall that tears of suffering, tears of labor, tears of struggle, tears of repentance, most often precede seasons of fruitfulness. So, we are called to perseverance in the faith. This faith is not a sprint, but a marathon.
You may be walking through a season of tears, but joy and fruit will come in the morning (cf. Psalm 130:5). There are for God’s people, corporately and individually, seasons of restoration.
Finally, this Psalm should also cause us to fix our eyes on Christ. Spurgeon, in his exposition of Psalm 126, suggests that “In a fuller, deeper sense, the sower in tears is the Man of sorrows himself.” Adding, “Believers know him thus.” He endured “the sore travail of his soul, the seedtime of affliction” that he might gain “the satisfying harvest when he shall again appear as the reaper of his own reward.”
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle