Psalm 126 - When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion
The psalmist must have been among the Jews in captivity who returned after the 70 years captivity were over, or he knew those who had. (Ezra 1:1-8
You remember the account of Peter's release from prison in Acts 12
. When he came to the door of Mary's house, the people reacted as if they were in a dream. It seemed too good to be true. Peter himself, when he was first released, imagined that he was in a dream. But the release of Peter from prison is quite insignificant when compared with the return of the captivity. Many times when I have considered the recovery of the church life I also have felt as if I were in a dream. It is so good. We never expected it, and it came so quickly and unexpectedly. Hallelujah, we are the returned captivity, and we are all in a wonderful dream. Yet, praise the Lord, it is so real! The Lord has turned the captivity of Zion. - Witness Lee
The verb "filled" in this verse is imperfect, indicating it is still happening. But vv 3-6 indicate that they are not happy now. I think it means that even at this present time, in their disappointing circumstances, when they remember how the Lord turned again their captivity, their mouth is filled with laughter and singing.
Also the nations are still saying that the LORD is going to do great things with Israel. (1Sam 12:24
The Hebrew word, rinnah, for singing in this verse is used 3 times (vv 2, 5, 6) in this short psalm. This is the only psalm where it is used more than once. It means to sing in such a way that the singer is beside himself.
Irrepressible mirth could do no other than laugh, for speech was far too dull a thing for it. The mercy was so unexpected, so amazing, so singular that they could not do less than laugh; and they laughed much, so that their mouths were full of it, and that because their hearts were full too. When at last the tongue could move articulately, it could not be content simply to talk, but it must needs sing; and sing heartily too, for it was full of singing. Doubtless the former pain added to the zest of the pleasure; the captivity threw a brighter color into the emancipation. The people remembered this joy flood for years after, and here is the record of it turned into a song.- C. H. Spurgeon
It seems that the nations said "the Lord's to do great things with them" before the Israelites themselves had the words to describe it.
It is a blessed thing when saints set sinners talking about the lovingkindness of the Lord: and it is equally blessed when the saints who are hidden away in the world hear of what the Lord has done for his church, and themselves resolve to come out from their captivity and unite with the Lord's people. - C. H. Spurgeon
The first part of the verse says literally, The Lord has done great [in order] to do something with us, which is a repeat of what the gentiles say in the previous verse.
The verb "become glad" in this verse is perfect, indicating it is past and completed. This means this verse is kind of a lament. We had become glad that the LORD would do great things with us, but that gladness is past. The great things that we knew the Lord would do with us did not happen.
This verse is the only request in this beautiful psalm.
We should pray this for our local church and for the church as a whole.
The Hebrew word for "streams" is a river bed that dries up when there is no water, and then suddenly flows with water when rains come. (Job 6:15-20
The psalmist is saying that our current state is like a dry river bed in the southern desert.
When we pray for the turning of our captivity, it is wise to recall former instances thereof: nothing strengthens faith more effectually than the memory of a previous experience. ...
Do not let us forget the past, but in the presence of our present difficulty let us resort unto the Lord, and beseech him to do that for us which we cannot possibly do for ourselves, --that which no other power can perform on our behalf. Israel did return from the captivity in Babylon, and it was even as though a flood of people hastened to Zion. - C. H. Spurgeon
(Heb 10:32; Rev 2:5; 3:3
The godly are sowing in tears. They are sad now.
After praying for the LORD to turn our captivity as the dry river beds in the south, we need to sow. Do not think that sowing will be joyful. It may be sowing in tears because many will reject what I am sowing. This should bring me to tears, but it doesn't. To reap in joy we need to sow with much concern over those we are speaking to and praying for, as Paul was. (Rom 9:1-3
). This comes by praying for them.
It is not every sowing which is thus insured against all danger, and guaranteed a harvest; but the promise specially belongs to sowing in tears. When a man's heart is so stirred that he weeps over the sins of others, he is elect to usefulness. Winners of souls are first weepers for souls. As there is no birth without travail, so is there no spiritual harvest without painful tillage. When our own hearts are broken with grief at man's transgression we shall break other men's hearts: tears of earnestness beget tears of repentance: "deep calleth unto deep." - C. H. Spurgeon
6 "The general assurance is applied to each one in particular. That which is spoken in the previous verse in the plural --"they", is here repeated in the singular--"he." " - C. H. Spurgeon
To sow, we need to go forth. We need to go forth from our homes, friends and church.
We go forth bearing a burden to scatter the seed, which is the Word of God. Scattering is to be indiscriminate in whom we share the Word with. If we try to chose those who we think are seeking we will probably miss the real seekers.
If we sow with genuine concern for those we speak to and pray for, we shall reap, singing beside ourselves with joy..
The word "rejoicing" is the same word as "singing" in v2.
These are the great things the Lord will do with us.
He leaves his couch to go forth into the frosty air and tread the heavy soil; and as he goes he weeps because of past failures, or because the ground is so sterile, or the weather so unseasonable, or his corn so scarce, and his enemies so plentiful and so eager to rob him of his reward. - Spurgeon
For many years I was familiar with the last 2 verses of Psalm 126. I never realized, however, that these 2 verses are the psalmist's words for the return of the captivity. When we cry to the Lord to turn our captivity, the tears flow down. Many dear saints in ancient times experienced this. They wept as they prayed for the return of the captivity. - Witness Lee
Psalm 126 A Song of the Ascents
audio file from hymnal.net
. Words from hymnal.net, modified slightly to make it more literal.
When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion,
We were like them that dream.
We were like them that dream.
Then is our mouth filled with laughter,
and our tongue with singing.
Then say they among the nations,
The LORD has done great things
in order to do a thing with them.
The LORD did great in order
do a thing with us.
The LORD's to do great things with us.
We had become glad.
Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams,
as the dry river beds,
river beds in the south.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He that goes forth and weeps bearing
scatt'ring of the seed shall doubtless
come again with rejoicing,
come again with rejoicing,
bringing his sheaves with him.
Ezra 1:1 And in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of Jehovah by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, and he made a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also in writing, saying,
2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth has Jehovah the God of the heavens given to me, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
3 Whosoever there is among you of all his people, his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of Jehovah the God of Israel -- he is God -- which is at Jerusalem.
4 And whosoever remains in any place where he sojourns, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, besides the voluntary offering for the house of God which is at Jerusalem.
5 And the chief fathers of Judah and Benjamin rose up, and the priests, and the Levites, even all those whose spirit God had stirred, to go up to build the house of Jehovah which is at Jerusalem.
6 And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with articles of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, besides all that was willingly offered.
7 And king Cyrus brought forth the vessels of the house of Jehovah, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem and had put in the house of his god.
8 And Cyrus king of Persia brought them forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah.
Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
14 And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.
17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.
1Samuel 12:24 Only, fear Jehovah, and serve him in truth, with all your heart; for see how great things he has done with you.
Job 6:15 My brothers are treacherous as a torrent-bed, as torrential streams that pass away,
16 which are dark with ice, and where the snow hides itself.
17 When they melt, they disappear; when it is hot, they vanish from their place.
18 The caravans turn aside from their course; they go up into the waste and perish.
19 The caravans of Tema look, the travelers of Sheba hope.
20 They are ashamed because they were confident; they come there and are disappointed.
Hebrews 10:32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Romans 9:1 I'm speaking the truth in the Messiah; I'm not lying. I call my conscience as witness, in the holy spirit,
2 that I have great sorrow and endless pain in my heart.
3 Left to my own self, I am half-inclined to pray that I would be accursed, cut off from the Messiah, on behalf of my own family, my own flesh-and-blood relatives. (N.T. Wright's translation)