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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Psalms 126

Verse 1

When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.

Psalms 126:1-6.-Thanksgiving for the deliverance out of Babylon already vouchsafed to Zion, to her joy, so that the pagan spoke of the great things which the Lord had done for her (Psalms 126:1-3); Lord complete the deliverance by not letting the work be interrupted. Faith anticipates that the work of rebuilding the temple, now carried on with tears because of the Samaritan foe (Ezra 3:1-13; Ezra 4:1-24; Ezra 5:1-17; Ezra 6:1-22), will be completed with joy (Psalms 126:4-6); cf. Psalms 125:1-5, introduction. The psalm is for the comfort and guidance of the Church in all times of trial, when joyful hopes raised by deliverances are threatened with disappointment. Favours already received are to be the ground of prayer and believing hope that God will crown His goodness by new acts of grace.

When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion - i:e., When He restored her to prosperity. So the idiomatic phrase is used, Psalms 53:6, a psalm of David, ages before the return from the Babylonian captivity; which, however, is doubtless the particular event here alluded to under the general phrase. Compare Job 42:10; Psalms 14:7; Hosea 6:11. Hengstenberg translates, 'When the Lord turned to the returning of Zion' - i:e., turned in mercy to them when they returned in penitence to Him (Deuteronomy 30:2-3; Deuteronomy 30:9-10; Deuteronomy 4:30; Isaiah 10:21-22; Isaiah 59:20; Nehemiah 1:8-9). The Hebrew [ shiybaah (H7870)] occurs only here. It may either be from the root, to lead captive [shaabah]; and then it is the same as the similar word [shibuwt, or shibiyt] "captivity," Psalms 126:4. So the English version. Or else it is from the root, to return [ shuwb (H7725)] - literally, 'turned the returning.' So I prefer, on account of the different forms in Psalms 126:1 and Psalms 126:4. The sense is much the same-`When God gave them a complete returning.'

We were like them that dream - we could scarcely believe our eyes that our deliverance was a reality. Compare Isaiah 29:7-8, the same image in a different application. Great joy seems too good to be true. So Jacob felt on hearing of Joseph's being alive, and moreover governor of Egypt (Genesis 45:26: cf. Acts 12:9; Luke 24:11).

Verse 2

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing - as Job's, notwithstanding his suffering for a time, was destined at last to be (Job 8:21). The future forms, in the Hebrew here, 'Then shall our mouth be filled ... then shall they say,' etc., are used in allusion to the future in Job; or else, as De Burgh thinks, they refer to the fulfillment, yet future and in the last days.

Then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them - from Joel 2:21.

Verse 3

The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

The Lord hath dons great things for us; (whereof) we are glad. And certainly what they say is true: we acknowledge and are glad of the great benefits which the Lord hath conferred on us.

Verse 4

Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.

Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south. The prayer is offered in this verse. The hope based on it is expressed in Psalms 126:5-6. Reverse our present depression, by bringing again prosperity to us: as the rash-streams in the Negeb or dry Southern district of Canaan, when they return, gladden the perched country, which, from the want of springs, is entirely dependent on the rain-formed torrents. When these are dried up (Job 6:15-20), sadness is the prevailing aspect of the whole region (cf. Joshua 15:19; Psalms 68:9).

Verse 5

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. The sowing answers, to the humble beginnings of the second temple, "the day of small things" (Zechariah 4:10). The poor sower at times masts with trials in sowing which move him even to tears, as he knows his all depends on the venture, and that produce is uncertain. But the joyful harvest compensates him for all his toils. He had sown in anxiety, through the disappearance of the rain-streams; but these re-appear, so he joyfully reaps an abundant crop. What sometimes happens in the sowing and reaping of the natural crop, always comes to pass in the spiritual world. Believers who sow the seed of any good work in tears, through discouragements, are sure, by the Lord's turning again the blessing to them, to reap in joy. Compare Ezra 6:16; Ezra 6:22 for the fulfillment in the case of the restored Jews and their often interrupted work of building the temple. Compare Proverbs 21:1, which seems to have been in the view of our Psalmist (Psalms 126:4: cf. also Nehemiah 8:9-17; Nehemiah 12:42-43: cf. Jeremiah 31:9; Jeremiah 31:14; Jeremiah 31:17 as to the future aspect of the psalm-namely, the final restoration of Israel).

Verse 6

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him - (cf. James 5:7-8; 2 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 6:8-9.) The original is very forcible-`He goeth, going and weeping, bearing the draught of seed, (i:e., seed to be drawn out by him from the seed basket: cf. Amos 9:13, margin) Coming he shall come with rejoicing (or joyous cry), bearing his sheaves.' The repetitions express, As the pain was of long continuance, so much more shall be the joy. The Psalmist intimates 'a perpetual truth by the repetition; because there is no end of the weeping until we are laid in the grave, although a little while is given to rest' (Luther). The English version takes the Hebrew [ meshek (H4901)] as in Job 28:18, 'price' - i:e., what draws the scale to it as weightier and more precious, or what is drawn away because of its value.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 126". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.