Psalms of Ascents: Psalm 126

The Psalms of Ascent are a set of fifteen psalms that were traditionally sung as priests entered the temple, and Jews journeyed to the Holy Land to celebrate the Passover Festival. They offer hope, encouragement, and peace in a time of uncertainty. Today we will read and discuss Psalm 126, the seventh psalm in the psalms of ascents.

Psalm 126 was most likely written after the fall of Babylon when the Israelites who had been exiled were allowed to return to The Promised Land, their home. It is a psalm of both celebration of restoration, and longing for fulfillment. 

It shows us that both sorrow and joy can coexist, and that, in the midst of our celebration, we can still be expectant for more. 

Psalm 126

A song of ascents.
 
1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those 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, 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.

Verses 1-3: Remembering God’s Goodness

When the Israelites were freed from exile and allowed to return home, it was a moment that they never anticipated would ever come, and one that could only have come through God’s divine grace. 

The restoration of God’s people was so astonishing that other nations took notice, saying, “The Lord has done great things for them.” (v. 2) 

Babylon was the mightiest kingdom in the world at this time, yet that mighty kingdom fell at the hand of God, and His people were set free, returning to the land that God promised them. They were rightly filled with joy, celebrating with laughter and songs.

Verses 4-6: There Is Work Still To Be Done

At first glance, these verses may sound a little ungrateful, but they should be understood as being expectant. 

Being freed from exile was a miraculous and celebratory event, but the Israelites were returning to a land that had been destroyed. The temple was gone, their homes and pastures and animals were gone. It was a time to start over.

Both joy and sorrow existed at the same time. Joy at their deliverance, and sorrow at what still needed to be done.

The psalmist in Psalm 126 seeks God, asking for a mighty and abundant blessing, one that is like a torrential rain in the desert (streams in the Negev, v. 4). When it rains in the desert, the water is overwhelming and abundant, and bringing with it the ability for growth that didn’t exist before. 

But the psalmist also knows that some of the goodness of God will take time, like sowing seeds for planting and waiting for the harvest.

We have a part to play in the restoration of God. Our tears are not wasted. God uses our sorrow to water the seeds we sow in faith, and we will reap an abundant harvest, and will rejoice. 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 5:6-11

We are never promised a perfect life, free from trouble. But we are promised restoration if we have faith. In 1 Peter 5, we are told that God will restore us and make us strong “after you have suffered a little while”. 

Psalm 126 is also a picture of Jesus. Jesus spent three years teaching, preaching, healing, and performing miracles, knowing that death awaited Him. He died on a cross, was buried, and then ascended to heaven, where He awaits His return.

Jesus knew sorrow. He was so distraught by His impending death that His sweat was like drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane where He prayed the night of His arrest. 

But when Jesus returns, oh what a rejoicing that will be!

When this COVID-19 pandemic is over, we should celebrate and rejoice at God’s goodness, but also we need to remember that there is work still to be done. Don’t let this situation go by without teaching us something. 

Don’t let your sorrow be wasted.

Each day, from March 23-April 6, 2020, I will be live on Instagram reading and discussing each of the fifteen psalms of ascents. I want to encourage you to join me.

Also, take a moment each day for your own study. Write the psalms (they’re all relatively short), and dig into God’s Word. That is where we will find peace.

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The Psalms of Ascent are a set of fifteen psalms that were traditionally sung as priests entered the temple, and Jews journeyed to the Holy Land to celebrate the Passover Festival. They offer hope, encouragement, and peace in a time of uncertainty. Today we will read and discuss Psalm 126, the seventh psalm in the psalms of ascents.

MEET KIRSTEN

I'm Kirsten & I'm happy you're here! Sweet Tea & Saving Grace supports women seeking to find balance in the busy, deepen their faith, and instill joy and love in their homes, lives, and blogs by providing encouraging and inspiring content and valuable resources. My prayer is for you to leave here better than when you came. Be blessed!

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