Psalm 126 Images



Download the Notes:



Sow in Tears, Reap in Joy 

Psalm 126

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • October 1, In the year of our Lord, 2017


  1. We look back and thank the Lord for our many blessings. 
    1. That moves us to have confidence in Him that tomorrow has hope.
    2. Therefore, today we celebrate our God for always being there for us.
  2. Israel could look at its history and 
    1. see God’s hand in it, for
    2. Israel’s history is Scripture!
      1. They could also see His promises for the future.
      2. Psalm 126 shows a time when they dreamed of the future,
        1. as they had been in captivity,
        2. dreaming of the time when the nation could return home.


  1. Psalm 126.0 | Ascending with Joy

    0 A Song of Ascents.

    1. Starting with Psalm 120 through Psalm 134,
      1. the Book of Psalms has gathered together Psalms of Ascents (or Degrees).
      2. These were Psalms that the Israelites sang or prayed, or actually both,
        1. as they traveled to Jerusalem for a feast day,
        2. especially as they got closer and
          1. ascended the hills upon which Jerusalem is built.
    2. This Psalm speaks of Zion or Jerusalem and
      1. the joy of the Israelites as they returned to Jerusalem from captivity.
      2. They shed many tears while in captivity.
        1. However, things had turned around for them,
          1. especially the tribe of Judah, and
        2. the Lord released them to go back home.
    3. Would that be a joyous occasion or what?
  2. Psalm 126.1–3 | A Dream Fulfilled

    1 When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion,
    We were like those who dream.
    2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    And our tongue with singing.
    Then they said among the nations,
    “The LORD has done great things for them.”
    3 The LORD has done great things for us,
    And we are glad.

    1. The Jews had dreamed of going back home, but
      1. in Babylon their captors mocked them.
      2. Psalm 137 shows the Babylonians mocked the Jews and
        1. their sadness at such mockery and
        2. their other thoughts about their homeland,

          1 By the rivers of Babylon,
          There we sat down, yea, we wept
          When we remembered Zion.
          2 We hung our harps
          Upon the willows in the midst of it.
          3 For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song,
          And those who plundered us requested mirth,
          Saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
          4 How shall we sing the LORD’S song
          In a foreign land?
          5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
          Let my right hand forget its skill!
          6 If I do not remember you,
          Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—
          If I do not exalt Jerusalem
          Above my chief joy.
          (Psa 137.1–6)
      3. They dreamed of the old days while they shed tears in their new home.
        1. We dream of something better.
        2. Sometimes the better is restoration.
        3. Sometimes the better is having everything new.
          1. I think they wanted to be restored back to their homeland, but
          2. once there everything would have to be rebuilt,
            1. which is what the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah show.
            2. Yet, they would be in their own land.
    2. Have you been to a strange place and
      1. at first it was exciting, but
      2. in time you started missing home.
        1. When you got back home, you loved it more than anything.
        2. That is only beginning to understand how the Jews felt in Psalm 126.
    3. They had seen the mighty Babylonians come in and
      1. practically obliterate
        1. their nation,
        2. their capital city, and
        3. their temple.
      2. We know that the temple meant much to them, because
      3. when they returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple,
        1. the old men who had seen Solomon’s temple when they were young,
        2. wept when the builders laid the foundation,

          10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD:

          “For He is good,
          For His mercy endures forever toward Israel.”

          Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off (Ezra 3.10–13).

          1. They remembered as young people seeing the glory of the temple.
          2. Then they witnessed the Babylonians come in and
            1. pound Judah and Jerusalem,
            2. killing most of the people,
            3. dragging most of the survivors to Babylon.
              1. They stayed there for 70 years.
              2. Then they saw another war.
                1. Persia attacked Babylon.
                2. Later Persia let the Jews return.
                  1. Years later they saw the foundation laid.
                  2. They had dreamed of this for over 70 years.
                  3. They could not contain the weeping.
          3. However, you also noticed in Ezra 3,
            1. that just as Psalm 126 said,
            2. some of the people celebrated with laughter and singing,
              1. probably the younger ones who had never seen Jerusalem.
    4. The psalmist said that even the nations got in on it,
      1. confessing that the Lord had done great things for Israel.
      2. Rarely had such events had happened.
        1. How many conquered and kidnapped nations
        2. can go back home and
          1. rebuild their cities,
          2. even rebuild their main attraction,
            1. that they had forsaken in the first place,
            2. which in turn had brought on their captivity?
    5. The Jews agreed that the Lord had done great things for them, and
      1. that made them glad,
      2. as it always should make a people glad!
  3. Psalm 126.4 | Bring Back the Captives

    4 Bring back our captivity, O LORD,
    As the streams in the South.

    1. When the Jews returned from captivity,
      1. not everyone returned at the first, but
      2. the return came in waves.
    2. Therefore, they asked the Lord to bring back their captivity.
    3. For the second line, the Jerusalem Bible says, “like torrents in the Negeb.”

      “Arid areas in southern Palestine. As dry stream beds there suddenly can become raging torrents, so the Lord is to let a flood of blessings pour into the desert of Israel’s hopes” (Walter Roehrs, Concordia Self-Study Commentary, page 401).

      “Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Southland are restored when the rains come…” (Roy Deaver, An expositional, Analytical, Homiletical, Devotional Commentary on the Book of Psalms, Volume II, Chapters 90–150, Firm Foundation Publishing House, page 189).

  4. Psalm 126.5–6 | Sow in Tears, Reap in Joy

    5 Those who sow in tears
    Shall reap in joy.
    6 He who continually goes forth weeping,
    Bearing seed for sowing,
    Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
    Bringing his sheaves with him.

    1. A truth then applied to the Jews
      1. that if you sow in tears,
      2. you shall reap in joy.
    2. They had now learned that joy follows suffering.
      1. When you suffer, you wonder how long it is going to last.
      2. Shall you ever experience joy again?
        1. In the meantime, do not curse the time of weeping.
          1. Weep with those that weep, Paul taught.
          2. Blessed are those who mourn, Jesus declared.
        2. Psalm 30 says,

          5b Weeping may endure for a night,
          But joy comes in the morning.
          (Psa 30.5)

          1. The night does not last forever (although you think that it will),
          2. nor does the weeping.
    3. However, just concentrate on sowing, even in tears.
      1. You have work to do, do it.
      2. Sow and sow some more.
        1. In Ecclesiastes 11, Solomon encouraged us
        2. to sow again and again, saying,

          In the morning sow your seed,
          And in the evening do not withhold your hand;
          For you do not know which will prosper,
          Either this or that,
          Or whether both alike will be good.
          (Ecc 11.6)

          1. The point he made is sow often because
          2. you are going to prosper, but
            1. you do not know
              1. whether what you sowed over there or
              2. somewhere else will prosper.
            2. Sometimes you will sow in tears.
              1. You will experience heartbreak.
              2. Disappointment will follow you like a loyal dog.
                1. However, Jesus knows all about it,

                  He is despised and rejected by men,
                  A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
                  And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
                  He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
                  (Isa 53.3)
                2. Jesus and grief were acquaintances.
                  1. They knew one another well.
                  2. They were constant companions.
                3. Did Jesus reap in joy?
                  1. Right now He sits at the right hand of God.
                  2. His friends outnumber His acquaintances of grief.


  1. Therefore, continue to go forth weeping, 
    1. bringing seed with you for sowing in the lives of the people around you,
    2. doing good things for them,
      1. even if they do not appreciate it now, because
      2. the Holy Spirit-inspired psalmist assures us
        1. that there is no doubt that you shall return with rejoicing,
        2. bringing your sheaves with you.
          1. You will reap, and
          2. you will reap in joy.
  2. The blood, the sweat, and the tears that you pour out, 
    1. you shall see again, but
    2. not as blood, sweat, and tears, for
      1. the harvest never resembles the seed sown.
      2. The work of harvest exceeds the work of sowing.
        1. Jesus assures us that we shall reap, but
        2. He adds that the reaping shall be more than the sowing,

          24b “With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. 25 For whoever has, to him more will be given…” (Mark 4.24–25).
        3. Jesus said at another time,

          “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6.38).
  3. Yes, hard work comes with sowing, but 
    1. although even more hard work comes with reaping,
    2. joy accompanies that reaping.
      1. Yes, we can acknowledge the times of weeping, but
      2. do not focus on that alone, for
        1. if you look throughout your life,
        2. you will see blessings without number.
  4. We shed tears in this world ruined by sin and death, but 
    1. the time approaches rapidly
    2. when we shall leave this world and enter the new one.
      1. Do you think we shall celebrate?
      2. Shall we sing and laugh?
  5. No one experiences uninterrupted joy, as Paul taught, saying,

    “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14.22).

    1. Do you have to believe that Jesus is the Lord to be saved? Yes.
    2. Do you have to turn from your sins to be saved? Yes.
    3. Do you have to be baptized to be saved? Yes.
    4. Do you have to sow in tears to enter heaven? Yes.