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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Psalms 126

Verses 1-6

Sowing in Tears

Psalms 126:5

The words of the text are an inspired proverb. They are found today in all literatures, and they bear a twofold meaning: (1) that patient, enduring toil shall sooner or later have its reward; (2) that vicarious suffering lies at the root of all advancement in social, national, and religious life.

I. See how the principle which is embedded in the text is found everywhere in nature. Death lies between sowing and reaping. There is not a blade of grass in our fields, nor a flower in our gardens, which has not been produced by the sorrows of nature by her sufferings and death.

II. We see the great fact in nature, illustrated in God's providential and moral government of the world. I appeal to individual experience. Just as that loveliest of all Swiss flowers, the Blue Gentian, grows most luxuriantly under the cornices of snow, have not your greatest happiness and calmest peace grown from beneath your greatest sorrows?

Our fathers 'sowed in tears'; we, the children, 'reap in joy'. 'Are we not led up the great aisle of nature to the altar on Calvary, and prepared by the great facts of nature and of human life for regarding the expiatory sacrifice of Jesus with adoring faith?'

III. If we see a certain law in nature and in God's providential and moral government of the world, as far as we can trace His footsteps, we shall find the same principle in Divine Revelation, and in the history of the Church of God. What is the grand theme, the great central truth of the Bible? Is it not atonement? the highest form of vicarious suffering the death of 'the just for the unjust' the fit for the unfit?

1. My text gives the history of all true prayer. The saints in felicity are reaping the harvest of seed sown in penitential sorrow for sin.

8. Consider the Church's work. The history of the Church is but a continuation of the history of Christ He who was the Sower was also the Seed. 'Except a corn of wheat fall to the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit.' Was not Jesus the 'Man of Sorrows'? Did He not sow in tears? On the Day of Pentecost He began to 'reap in joy'. He has been reaping ever since in the centuries of the Church's history. Is He not reaping today?

J. W. Bardsley, Many Mansions, p. 105.

The Preparation of the Soil

Psalms 126:5

( See also the Parable of the Sower. Matthew 13:0 )

In these words the Psalmist expresses a very important truth, one which finds a parallel in the proverb 'No gains without pains'. We may perhaps be allowed to state a kindred truth in passive form, which would enable us to derive more instruction and profit from the Parable of the Sower, 'They that are sowed upon in tears shall bear fruit in joy'. It is our gracious Lord who sows the seed, and it is He who will reap the harvest.

I. We read of the wayside, the rock, the thorns, and the good ground.

( a ) The seed that fell by the wayside had no possible chance of bearing fruit; it was trodden under foot by the immediate passer-by and devoured before the day was done by the birds of the air. That wayside, because difficult to get at with the plough, might have been broken up and prepared for the seed had the husbandman been more industrious, but was barren and fruitless because of his neglect.

( b ) Some fell upon the rock. It had not enough earth from which to gather moisture and so it and the seed were wasted.

(e) And some fell among thorns, or rather the roots or seeds of thorns, which grew up along with the corn and drew all the goodness of the soil to themselves, so that the corn was soon choked and overshadowed, and could not bear fruit. Again the blame lay with some one, with him who had tilled the soil, for he had not cleared it thoroughly before the seed was sown.

( d ) And some fell on good ground which had been properly broken up and cleaned and thoroughly prepared so that the seed had a chance to live its full life and bring forth fruit according to its nature, some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundred fold.

II. 'He that hath ears to hear let him hear.' In the interpretation of the parable, we learn that Jesus Christ and His servants sow seed, which is the Word of God. The field is the heart and lives of men, which have to be prepared for the seed if it is to bear fruit in them. What is the preparation which our hearts must receive to fit them for the seed which is sown by the Master Hand or by His Holy Spirit through His servants in the world? We must search our hearts and examine them by means of the law of God, enlarged and exemplified by Christ in His teaching and His works. We must plough up everything, and sift every thought, and it will be remarkable if we are not appalled with the revelation such an examination will make, if we are not overwhelmed with the thought that so much of our lives has been lived in culpable ignorance of our sinfulness and unfitness for God's presence, so much in disregard of His will and purpose concerning us, and so much in neglect of the great gift which He offers us. When our self-examination is complete and we feel crushed and broken; when we are humbled to the dust with a sense of our sinfulness and weakness, our merciful Lord will speak to us words of comfort and love. He will sow the seed which is the fruit of His life in our hearts.

Reference. CXXVI. 5, 6. J. Baldwin Brown, Aids to the Development of the Divine Life, No. ii.

Divine Service a Speculation

Psalms 126:6

It may be assumed that God has a kingdom in this world, and that although it appears in different forms it can always be recognized; for it means the increase of knowledge, the spread of charity, the deliverance of the oppressed, the rescue of the fallen, the preaching of Christ's Evangel. We believe that God is calling us daily to cast ourselves into His work and to be fellow-labourers together with Him for the redemption of humanity.

I. Were one restricted to three departments of beneficence, as an illustration of hazardous and yet hopeful speculation, he might take for the first

( a ) Foreign Missions. Its pioneers were laughed at in society, and lectured by the Church; they were hindered and persecuted; their passion for human souls and their splendid self-abnegation were neither welcome nor admired. We are now beginning to rescue their names and to recognize what those men who were judged in their day fools and fanatics have done for philology and anthropology, for geography and commerce, and most of all for religion.

( b ) How slow again has been the progress of education, how bitter its controversies, how vast its outlay, how many have been its servants. But the spirit of intelligence is spreading like leaven through the heavy mass of the people.

( c ) The pioneers of temperance fought an unpopular and arduous battle, and none of the benefactors of society have suffered more through defeat and disappointment. Evidence can be produced to show that there is no decrease in the statistics on drink and no improvements in the habits of the people, and every person who is not a raging optimist will admit that drunkenness still battens on the vitals of England. On the other hand, it is beyond question that the nation as a whole is learning temperance and self-respect. Drunkenness, except in cases where it is a disease, is now confined to the lowest classes in the commonwealth, and there it is a misfortune as much as a vice.

II. God's servants would not be discouraged if they remembered that beneficence has many conditions of success, and one of them is time. You cannot hurry nature, neither can you hurry humanity. You can change the face of a country in ten years, but you cannot create an intelligent, temperate, industrious, thrifty people in less than three generations. Work for such high ends, and on such spiritual lines must be without haste and without rest, and the first workmen must be content to leave their unfinished building to their successors.

III. But the spiritual workman should remember that if the rate of progress be slow the far result is already discounted, and that if he speculates it is not in the sense that he may lose altogether, but that he loses in the present in order to gain in the future. Remember in moments of depression, when your own work and that of your generation seems a failure, that the kingdom of God has a long past. The history of commerce records how men have been willing to stake all they had upon one transaction in the hope of huge gain; the history of religion records how a greater multitude have risked everything for the good of their fellow-men and the kingdom of God. Theirs is the higher spirit and the future vision; theirs has been the master speculation of humanity. Time alone is arbiter of their wisdom, and time has already justified the venture of beneficence.

John Watson, The Inspiration of Our Faith, p. 298.

References. CXXVI. 6. J. Thomas, Myrtle Street Pulpit, vol. ii. p. 263. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xv. No. 867. CXXVI. International Critical Commentary, vol. ii. p. 455.

Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Psalms 126". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.