Psalm 126 begins with joy at remembering God’s restoration in the past as the psalmist reflects on life from his current vantage point of sorrow. However, he is not without hope. As he remembers the joy in times past, he can hold onto hope amidst sorrow. He uses the illustration of agriculture as he sows seeds of sorrow. Then, though not immediately, he sees those seeds begin to bear fruit, and joy is once again restored.
Restore Our Fortunes, O Lord
A Song of Ascents.
126 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
Joy and Sorrow
The following reflection questions come from She Reads Truth Psalms of Ascent:
- Name a time in your life when you were filled with the joy described in Psalms 126:2. What made your season of joy so happy?
- Name a time in your life when you were filled with the sorrow described in Psalms 126:5-6. What made that season so hard? Do you mask pain? If so, how and why?
- What has God done to assure us that our eternal destiny is one filled with joy? How do we live in the tension between grieving painful times and living in the joy of Christ?
Heavenly Father, I praise You for the joy You give me and for the restoration You have done in my life through the work of Christ on the cross. As seasons come, where I need to sow with tears, help me to rest in Your timing, knowing that my tears in prayer are like seeds that will bear fruit for Your kingdom. Amen.
— Jamie Harms