There are few events more joyful than a homecoming. From seeing familiar faces to falling into our beds, many of us love to come home. Psalm 126 recounts the happy song of former slaves as they came home: “Our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them’ ” (Ps. 126:2). After many years of exile, a miraculous homecoming had occurred. This verse recounts what may have been one of the most joyful scenes in all the Scriptures.
Yet the same psalm also has something to teach those who are struggling in verse 6: “He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Why would the psalmist turn to this scene of a farmer weeping continuously as he plants? Perhaps he remembered the prayers that were “sown” while in exile. This also would have been an encouraging thought for those returning to a land that was overgrown and neglected. Fields would have had to be reclaimed and reworked. Resettling the promised land was not easy. When the temple foundation was re-laid, many in the older generation wept for what had been lost, while the younger generation shouted with joy (Ezra 3:12–13). Having experienced God’s mighty work of deliverance, the psalmist could reassure others that a harvest would one day come.
The confident song of these liberated exiles can teach us to hope for the progress of the gospel today. They knew who their Redeemer was and testified that He is mighty to save. Now they turned and, through their songs, preached good news to the sorrowful. We know from the words of the Lord Jesus Christ that the sower is ultimately a representation of spreading the Word of God (Mark 4:14). It may seem that the work is difficult and even hopeless. It may seem that the preached Word and evangelism are fruitless. Parents may begin to despair that their children will never respond to God’s Word. Some of the older generation may recall the church of decades ago and weep as they look at what is left standing today in some places. Years may pass, and even decades, and there may seem to be no harvest.
Psalm 126 reminds us of the good news that the gospel will bear fruit. After Christ’s death on the cross, it seemed to the disciples that all was lost, and yet He rose from the grave. After His departure to heaven, they appeared to be a tiny minority, and yet the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, and thousands were added to their number. Church history includes many cycles of plowing and sowing, working and waiting, and weeping and rejoicing. Whether we live in a time of slavery or sowing, let us never despair, for the sower “shall doubtless come again with rejoicing” (Ps. 126:6).