Psalm 126 (The Message)
A Pilgrim Song
1-3 It seemed like a dream, too good to be true, when God returned Zion’s exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn’t believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations—
“God was wonderful to them!”
God was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people.
4-6 And now, God, do it again—
bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.
Another of the songs of Ascent or pilgrim songs, sung in unison as the faithful would make their way back to Jerusalem to the Temple traveling up the holy mountain to worship the LORD God of Israel.
This psalm was written in Isaiah’s time (King Hezekiah’s reign) and although we cannot be sure of the individual writer, the circumstances are given to us in II Kings chapters 18 and 19 and in Isaiah 36 and 37. The Assyrians came to Israel to overtake the country and Sennacherib, King of Assyria sent his commander to Jerusalem to offer them the opportunity to surrender. The question was ” Do you seriously trust your God to deliver you against our superior war machine?”.
The answer was “YES!- because He has done it in the past” .
A song of ascents.
1 When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
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, O LORD,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.
The voices in the psalm are of the believers in Jerusalem- and of the nations around Israel, ever watching to see what their God would do for them, and the implied voice of Sennacherib’s general and army, shouting insults in Hebrew at the wall of Jerusalem.
And the relationship between God and His people is secure. Hezekiah was a king who led his people to honor and worship the LORD, and Isaiah was a true prophet who spoke God’s word without equivocation.
This psalm is anecdotal- it offers us picture stories of God’s faithfulness and protection.
Picture # 1- They are threatened, Doomed- the enemy is at the door !
And God steps in and delivers the victory. It is God who defeats those who come against us.
Picture #2 – The land is dry- thirsty – dying- dried up and useless ( the reference to the Negev is to a desert)- –And God sends showers of Blessing- quenching thirst, filling the driest spots with Living water!
Picture # 3 – The people are hungry, thin already from privation- weeping from hunger- and they look at the seed set aside for planting and have to make the decision to plant the seed and trust that God will supply their needs or to eat one last meal and die!
Trusting God, they plant and receive a banner crop! God multiplies the harvest, regulates the weather, giving to His people “armloads of blessing”!
The true beauty of this psalm comes from the testimony it becomes when the future generations continue to sing it in their worship processional. From that delivery to their present time period- there have been many times of hunger and defeat. They are remembering the times of delivery- singing of the redemption that comes from God’s hand even in times of oppression and hunger. That is the strength of trust- looking back and remembering that God can, will and has upheld his people and that He doesn’t change. It WILL happen again because He is faithful.
So they say- and we echo them- “…And now, God, do it again!”