Friday, December 2, 2011

Psalm 126, A Psalm of Ascent, Going up the Steps

Psalms 120 through 134 are the 15 “songs of ascent” that were sung as the priests walked up the 15 steps to the temple, stopping on each step to sing the next psalm. I have previously posted on Psalm 123 and Psalm 133. Today I’m looking at Psalm 126. Here is the passage:

1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed.
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, LORD, like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

Every time you see the word LORD in all capital letters it means that the original Hebrew text used the tetragrammaton, God's 4 letter name (you may know it as Yahweh or Jehovah, Jews will say Ha Shem or Adonai to avoid pronouncing it). God’s holy name is used 4 times in this short psalm. This is a wonderful song of praise alluding to the recognition of God’s work given even by the Gentiles/heathens. “The nations” in verse 2 refers to everyone other than the Israelites.

When the Israelites returned from 70 years of exile it must have seemed like a dream. Notice the laughter and the joy (4 times!) and the songs.

At Thanksgiving and Advent (Christmas) many churches include Psalm 126 in the pulpit readings because of its emphasis on rejoicing. The rejoicing comes as a result of the great things God has accomplished on behalf of His people.

I especially like the theme of going from weeping and tears to songs of joy. This is tremendously encouraging. Read it again and then let me know if you hear it in church during this Christmas season.