The Lord Has Done Great Things for Us (Psalm 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. Psalms 126:1–6 (ESV)
This is one of fifteen Psalms in the category of “Songs of Ascent,” including Psalms 120-134. The Mishnah indicates that these Psalms correspond to the fifteen steps that led from the Court of the Women to the Court of the Israelites. They seem to have been used in the pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the feasts of Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles. So there are frequent references to Jerusalem and Zion (Psalms 122; 125–126; 128–129; 132–134).
A Restoring the captives
B Filled with joy
C The Lord has done great things for them
C’ The Lord has done great things for us
A Restore our captivity
B Reap with joy
Restoring the Exiles
The Psalmist refers to the return from Babylon to Jerusalem as “restoration” (shuv) in verses 1-2 (Jer. 30:3, 18; 32:44; Ez. 39:25). Parallel to this he calls for God to “restore (shuv) our fortunes” in verse 4.
Rejoicing as Exiles
In verse 1b and 2 he describes the experience of this return dramatically. It was a dream come true, so they were filled with laughter and joy. They exalted God before the nations. Parallel to this the Psalmist that when the Lord restores us (future) we, it will be like water in the desert. Those who have sown in tears, will reap with great joy. Those who have gone out with wearing in sowing will bring home sheaves of fruitful grain with joy.
Responding to God’s Goodness
In verses 2-3, the parallel is the hinge upon which the Psalm turns. In verse 2 it is recalling that for those returned from exile, “The LORD has done great things for them.” In this pivot point of relevance to the later worshipers, “The LORD has done great things for us” (3). They were rejoicing and in faith God will also act faithful toward us because of His great promises. Therefore, we rejoice in the knowing God will also restore our fortunes.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more