Psalm 126 is one of the psalms written during the captivity of Judah in Babylon. It is hard for us to relate to the extreme sorrow the Judeans experienced when they saw their holy temple destroyed, the walls of their beloved city breached, and then their subsequent deportation to a foreign land. The temple and the city were the center of their lives. Everything they were was structured around the worship of the temple from their diet to their health and hygiene, to their morality and social interactions, and then finally to their spiritual welfare. The tragedy of the deportation was the realization that their lives were destroyed. Everything they were was lost—except for one thing—they were still God’s people with a promise that if they would return to Him, He would be faithful to restore them (2 Chron. 7:14).
In verse 6, the psalmist wrote: “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” The Reformation Heritage Study Bible helpfully explains: “The imagery suggests that the sorrows of believers are like God’s seeds by which He will produce a harvest of happiness for them.” We can relate this to the suffering of God’s people in the church age. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, the experiences of Old Testament believers are for our learning. The hardships of living a Christian life and the inevitable suffering that results will at last bring joy when we enter the heavenly kingdom. Each heartache for the cause of Christ is a seed sown which will be reaped with the benefits of eternal reward.
Peter commented on this phenomenon by saying, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” (1 Peter 4:12-14).
These blessed words are a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us. We should never worry that in the dark night of sorrow God has abandoned us. Each sorrowful seed that is sown will someday grow up to our health and happiness in His eternal presence. It is hard to imagine the soul could be strengthened by such hard labor when at times it seems we are in such despair of trials that we are ready to die. However, true to the scriptures, no sorrowing in a life of toils lived for Christ goes unnoticed. None of the seeds fail to germinate into life everlasting.
The story this psalm tells is of the exiles going home. They realized their mistakes in turning from the living God. They repented of turning against Him, and the Lord was faithful to honor His promise by turning the hearts of kings to allow them to return home. God’s marvelous providence in changing the rulers’ hearts amazingly caused them to give financial aid and protection for the rebuilding projects of the temple and the city walls (Ezra 9:8-9). Tears welled in the eyes of the Judeans as their hearts burst for the graciousness of God in forgiving their terrible sins and restoring them to their homeland.
Relief was granted but the way was still difficult. Rebuilding took several more years as work stoppages by opposition kept them from their task. However, the leaders trusted God and were patient to work through every difficulty. Eventually, the work was done and the sorrows of hard labor and the weeping for troubles turned to the joy of being home in their beloved city.
The same is true for you, Christian. It may be hard now, but as the psalmist said in another place, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Keep your hope through the long night of despair. The seeds of sorrow you have sown will grow and you will have the joy of knowing God never leaves you or forsakes you.
Pastor V. Mark Smith