“Bring back our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the South. Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:4-6).
As Christians we face a lifelong struggle with sin. At times, we succumb to temptation and fall into sin. Sadly, most of us have known Christians who have fallen away from the Lord and given themselves over to a life of sin. On the other hand, many of us have also known Christians who fell away, but then repented and turned back to the Lord.
In the title of Psalm 126, it mentions that this was “A Song of Ascents”. Many scholars believe these “Song of Ascents” were sung as the worshippers ascended the road leading up to Jerusalem as they went to attend 3 Jewish Feasts (Deuteronomy 16:16). This psalm speaks about the blessings of God’s people returning to the Lord following their captivity in Babylon because of their sin.
The psalmist cries out to the Lord: “Bring back our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the South”. The streams in the desert south of Judea were dependent on rain. These streams would disappear during the dry seasons and then reappear following the dry seasons. This is a vivid picture of where the life of sin leads. The momentary pleasure of sin soon disappears and leaves one desolate and thirsty for nourishment (cf. Hebrews 11:24-25). What a person thought was going to be fun, exciting, and satisfying, when they took the path of sin, has now led them to a waterless desert. Sin enslaves us. Jesus said, “"Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34).
However, while the psalmist describes a bleak picture regarding the path of sin, he also paints a beautiful picture for those who are willing to leave the path of sin and return to the Lord. He pictures them as being satisfied with the streams that have been restored following the dry season (Psalm 126:4). He describes them being filled with laughter and the nations around them recognizing God’s blessings upon His restored people: “When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. 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.’ The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad (Psalm 126:1-3).
However, before they were restored to the Lord, they had to undergo the pain of experiencing godly sorrow. Having true sorrow over one’s sins is what leads a person to repent and return to the Lord (2 Corinthians 7:10). The psalmist wonderfully portrays the godly sorrow God’s people returning from captivity underwent before returning to the Lord: “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:4). He pictures the tears they cried over their sins as planted seeds leading to a time when there would be much rejoicing as they bore much fruit for God!
How do I view things when I fall into sin? Do I treat it as “no big deal” and harden my heart against God? On the other hand, when I fall into sin, do I led the guilt of my struggle with sin weigh me down and discourage me from wanting to get back up and ask for God’s help? I thank God that there are such psalms as this to teach me it is right and appropriate for me to feel godly sorrow over my sins, but then I can always return back to the Lord in repentance and once again have my mouth filled with laughter, my tongue with singing, and come to Him again rejoicing bringing in the sheaves”!
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).