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Sunday, May 1, 2016 pm                                           Psalms Index 

WHEN THE LORD BROUGHT BACK CAPTIVE ZION
PSALM 126

 We continue our study of the psalms of ascent (120-134).  This particular psalm is believed by some to have been written later, after the return of Judah from Babylonian captivity, but that is not certain.  It is a psalm that describes returning from the captivity of Zion.  The history of Judah records many occasions that could apply here.  In addition to that, since Zion is mentioned rather than Jerusalem, it could also have reference to spiritual captivity.   That certainly is an application.     

Spurgeon, in his Treasury of David, divided this psalm into 4 sections – vs. 1 – a narrative, vs. 2-3 – a song, vs. 4 – a prayer, and vs. 5-6 – a promise.  That will be our approach.

 I.                     Narrative (1-2) - Brought Back from Captivity

a.       When Zion was returned from captivity – recall Zion is the place where God meets with His people.  When dealing with physical Jerusalem and the temple, there were many occasions where they were oppressed and the Lord delivered (or returned) them to their peaceful state. 

b.       Whatever the captivity, they have been delivered and returned
Similarly, we have been delivered from the bonds of sin – Romans 7:24-25 – who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!
2 Corinthians 1:10, Paul with confidence speaks of his trust in God, “who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,

Galatians 1:4, Christ gave Himself for us that He might deliver us from this present evil age
Colossians 1:13, He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.

c.        We were like those who dreamed – possibly, 1) the greatness of their deliverance was as if they were dreaming (unexpected and greater than they anticipated) or 2) their deliverance was as good as something they would dream for – typically when we dream of pleasant things, we imagine the ideal circumstance.  Typically, we awake only to find it a dream and life goes on with its troubles.  But this time, it was very real. They had been delivered and it was “so great a deliverance” (cf. 1 Samuel 19:5 – describing the deliverance of Israel from Goliath at the hands of David, 2 Peter 2:9 – the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation…)

d.       There was laughter and singing – this describes the jubilation at deliverance.  
When we are delivered from sin there ought to be joy (and a sigh of relief).
When a sinner repents there is joy in heaven (Luke 15:7, 10).  It ought to be joyful to us also when one is restored!
And the relief that the one who is finally “found” gives him cause for joy. 
In the book of Acts, when souls obeyed the gospel there was rejoicing (Acts 8:39 – the eunuch went on his way rejoicing, Acts 16:34 – the jailer and his household)

e.       The nations said, “The LORD has done great things for them.”  
Whatever the occasion, this was clearly the hand of God at work.  It was realized by others who observed these things. 
IF this psalm is reference to Judah’s return from Babylonian captivity, the hand of God was clearly at work.   The last verse of 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 records the decree of Cyrus attributing to YHWH that He had given him “all the kingdoms of the earth” and commanded him to build a house to YHWH.  He provided what was necessary.   NOTE that this Cyrus was prophesied by name in Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1 that Cyrus would build Jerusalem and the temple.  Of note is that Isaiah prophesied around 720 BC, some 180+ years before Cyrus becomes king AND 2 empires (Assyria is reigning when Isaiah wrote.  It fell to Babylon ca 612 BC.  Babylon fell to Medo-Persia w/ Cyrus and Darius in 536 BC).  A reading and reminder of this prophecy could be all a king would need to issue such an edict.
Perhaps other extraordinary occasions not recorded would similarly cause “Gentile nations” to glorify God for His great works. 

 II.                   Song (3)– The LORD has done great things

a.       The Lord has done great things for us – what the nations observed had happened, so Judah also acknowledges.  Only this time it is God’s people giving God the glory!  Something we should always do!

b.       We are glad – in matters of spiritual deliverance, we have every reason to be glad and rejoice.  Philippians 4:4 is just one such call.
Even in facing persecutions we are to rejoice and be glad – Matthew 5:12, 1 Peter 4:13.

 III.                 Prayer (4) – Restore us

a.       Bring back our captivity as the streams of the South – in this expression I see the idea of a realization that they desired to be fully restored, but it had not yet happened.  There was work to do.
For example, if this is reference to their return from Babylonian captivity – they needed to rebuild both the city and the temple. The book of Ezra records the rebuilding of the temple and opposition which resulted in a delay of some 20 years (completed around 515 BC).  The walls of the city were not completed until about 60 years later (around 450 BC).
It took time, sometimes due to their own negligence, but also obstacles arise.  But the desire was complete restoration! 
Similarly, today full restoration takes time.  We must deal with the “damage” caused by our “captivity”.  That is why we need endurance and perseverance – 2 Peter 1:6, Hebrews 10:36. 

b.       As we seek restoration don’t forget to pray – also, if this is a prayer (a petition to God), let us not forget to turn to God for strength as we deal with whatever we face.  1 Peter 5:7 – casting all your cares on Him.  Remember the promise of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 – Come to Me…

 IV.                 Promise (5-6) – We sow with tears, reaping with joy

a.       Those who sow in tears, shall reap in joy – using the farming analogy, the psalmist gives hope as we persevere through troubling times. 
Sowing in tears seems to imply with difficulties, possible set-backs, and disappointments.   Most things in life that are worthwhile come at a cost.
The farmer before he receives his crop, must prepare the field, wait and maintain the field, and harvest when the time comes.  And even then, there are circumstances that determine how successful his efforts will be (market values, etc.). 
BUT, with endurance (as mentioned above), we will reap.  Consider Galatians 6:9 – let us not grow weary…  Also 2 Thess. 3:13. We will reap if we do not lose heart.
2 Timothy 2:3, 6 – we must endure hardships, but the hardworking farmer is first to partake of his crops. 

b.       Let’s apply this to our spiritual state – as Christians, we will face setbacks and disappointments.  But we cannot quit.   We must keep working the field – whether it be the field of our heart or trying to win souls to Christ.  Keep going.  1 Corinthians 15:58.
When the harvest comes, there will be rejoicing!

c.        He who continually goes forth weeping – vs. 6 builds upon the previous verse.  But there is one difference – in vs. 5 it was collective (those), but in verse 6 it is ME!    
I must go forth, even when those around me are sorrowful and the times seems dire.  
I go forth weeping – sometimes mourning causes us to act – I think of mourning over the plight of the lost or problems within a congregation.  Our mourning, rather than giving up yields to action or
Bearing seed for sowing.
In the end, you shall doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves. 
Gal. 6:9 – in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.
1 Cor. 3:12-15 speaks of our works that we add to the foundation.   Some of them may be burned, but in the end we will save ourselves because we have sown. 

 

Life is not easy.  This psalm reminds us of that.  Especially when we have been made captive by something, when we are delivered, there will be rejoicing.  May we view this psalm with hope if we don’t give up.   As always, God is in control!  Think about it.