Psalms 120-134 are 15 psalms that are called ‘Songs of Degrees’ or ascents.  It is thought that the Jewish pilgrims sang these psalms as they ‘went up’ or ‘ascended’ to Jerusalem for the annual feasts of the Lord.  Psalm 126 is generally thought to have been written by Ezra, upon the return of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon. It is thought that it was written just at the occurrence of the restoration, before it was fully completed.

To answer your good question, let’s read Psalm 126:1-6, “A Song of degrees. When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. 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. The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Verses 1-3 speak of how the Lord ‘turned again the captivity of Zion’, or Jerusalem.  As they celebrated their freedom and blessings of the Lord, even the heathen had to acknowledge that ‘The LORD hath done great things for them.’  The Jews agreed and said, “The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.”

In verse 4, the people prayed to the One who was mighty enough to turn ‘the streams in the south.’  We read the words of the Lord in Isaiah 41:18, “I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.”  They asked the Lord to complete the work He had started in setting these captives free.  From this, we get the sense that the complete freedom of all the people had not yet been accomplished.

Verses 5-6, speak of sowing in tears and reaping in joy.  This certainly is a real event with a spiritual lesson for us.  When it is time for the farmer to plant his seed, it is hard work which can literally cause stress and grief.  Much work is involved, and there is usually apprehension about the result of their hard labor.  So, the Israelites endured harsh captivity in Babylon.  Upon being rescued, they could say, “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing.”  Without the captivity, there would be no rejoicing in being set free.  May we realize that in our own lives.  We may have to endure some pretty tough times, but that will allow us to appreciate the Lord’s merciful hand when He brings us through various trials of life and gives us victory over these trials.  As we read in Psalm 30:5, “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  So, we are exhorted in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

There are several appropriate applications to this portion, but I’d like for us to consider the parable of the sower and the seed in Luke 8:1-18.  We are told in verse 11 that “The seed is the word of God.”  While many ‘so called’ ministers today insist that the seed to be sowed is your money, the Word of God never says that.  The seed is the Word of God; it is the precious Gospel of Christ that is able to bring great and wonderful results.  When we faithfully sow the Word of God, we need never fret about the results.  It is our job to sow the seed; it is the Lord’s job to give the harvest.  We are promised that the Lord will use His Word when we sow it.  In Isaiah 55:11 the Lord says, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”  May we all be faithful to sow in tears, so that we might return with rejoicing as the Lord blesses His seed and causes it to produce fruit: precious souls saved!  (183.2)