Psalm 126: Songs of Joy

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

Psalm 126:5–6

Psalm 126 is two things: a sorrowful reflection and a look toward hope.

Today’s verses were probably written during the era of Ezra and Nehemiah. God’s people had returned home from captivity. There was joy, but it gave way to sadness.

Have you ever experienced this?

God does something wonderful in your life, family, or community. Positive emotions flow and it’s easy to worship and be thankful. But then, we get to a new stage: the messy middle.

Like a valley between two summits, life gets hard again. For Israel, they had gone home to a Jerusalem in ruins. They had spent a generation telling stories of God’s power to deliver them. The elders described the Temple’s splendor.

Reality was starkly different.

Nehemiah 1:3 describes Jerusalem this way:

“Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

How Psalm 126 Offers Hope For Us

A city with broken walls and burnt gates was a wasteland. It offered no protection and had no way to engage economically. It was a disaster zone, so bad that there were parts of the city where “there was not enough room for [his] mount to get through” (Nehemiah 2:14).

Psalm 126 reflects on this sorrow, but ultimately promises hope.

We read that God sees our tears like a farmer’s seed. They are silent, buried in the soil. But then, we all know what happens: life!

What appeared to be dead comes to life.

This is what our God does with sorrow, he trades it for joy. He’s the one who can turn disaster into triumph.

As Jesus said in John 12:24:

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”‘

His body, like a seed, was planted in the ground only to spring up with eternal life for everyone who believes in him (John 3:16).

Psalm 126 offers hope for future joy because, over and over, God proves he’s in the business of wiping away our tears even when all hope seemed lost.

God is in the business of wiping away our tears even when all hope seemed lost.

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