December 8 – Psalm 126


Passage Intro

In this psalm Israel in the midst of some difficult time and the psalmist looks back to another time when Israel was in distress and God visited them with his kindness. At that point God “restored the fortunes” of Israel, either when a crop came after years of famine or perhaps when Israel was brought back from exile, and in that moment Israel went from mourning to rejoicing. This reversal of fortunes wasn’t some luck of the draw, as if the rains finally decided to show up; it was directly because of the Lord’s work, which was so awesome even the countries around Israel started talking about it. This past show of God’s faithfulness provides the foundation for the rest of the psalm’s prayerful plea, when Israel is yet again in a place of distress and in need of God’s miraculous provision.

But that plea is bridged by this lovely statement in verse 3, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.” The NIV reads, “and we are filled with joy.” Not were glad, are glad. The Lord has done great things for us in the past, and as hard as things are right now, we are glad for his past faithfulness and hopeful for his future faithfulness. Right now we’re in the midst of a famine, and everything around us looks like the Negev desert (v.4), but we know God has been kind, and we can be glad in the midst of this famine, hopeful that God will turn our suffering into provision.

This idea of sowing tears and reaping joy is most certainly a miracle. Only God can do such a thing. If we look to the world around us in the midst of a famine-style scenario then the world can only tell us to get over it. We can either just come to terms with suffering, or go out and work harder, or convince ourselves that our suffering isn’t all that bad. Only the God of the Bible can both legitimize our sorrow and miraculously turn our sorrow into joy. (John 16:20) This is the work of Jesus, who came not only to turn our famine into fortune but to experience famine with us, to walk through a barren world hungry for God’s presence among his people.

As an aside, I don’t know precisely where all of you are on a spiritual level, but I’d be wiling to bet at least some of you aren’t where you’d like to be. Maybe things are spiritually dull for you, or worse. We have Christiany words for time-periods in our faith when things aren’t going well; we call it a desert or a dry spell. We have terms for this because it happens to all of us from time to time. When you get there, what this psalm would encourage you to do is to remember God’s past faithfulness, remember every reason you have to be glad in God, and to boldly ask him to make the desert bloom.

Questions for Discussion

• Can someone read Psalm 126 for us?

• What stood out to you from this psalm?

• Why do you think the psalmist is looking to past examples of God’s mercy?

• How do you think “sowing tears to reap joy” relates to the birth of Jesus?

• How is this psalm relevant to your life right now?

• How could this exercise of remembering God’s mercy help you in the ways that you pray?