Sep 18

Like Streams in a Desert

Psalm 126

The Lord has done great things for us.

Psalm 126 is a song of deliverance. It may be neatly divided into two halves. The first half (vv. 1-3) is written in past tense recalling the Lord’s faithfulness to His people. The second half (vv. 4-6) is a prayer for God to do once again what He has done in the past. The Psalmist prays for God to restore the fortunes of Zion as He had done before. Once again in this collection of Psalms we see a reference to Zion. In this sense Zion may be properly understood symbolically as the history of God’s people from their entry to the Land of Promise to the establishment of the church to eternity in the age to come.

The story of God’s people is one of sin, captivity, and restoration. Psalm 126 sums up that history. On the one hand, it’s a story about Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar and King Darius; of men like Daniel and Ezra and Nehemiah. But this Psalm helps us understand how to properly interpret history in light of God’s providence. Ultimately it is not the decrees of wicked kings or the designs of foreign invaders which craft the fate of God’s people.

Certainly the history of God’s people involves Egypt and Babylon and Persia. But those kingdoms and their kings were only players in the story God was telling. God’s faithfulness to His people was so evident that even their enemies exclaimed, “The Lord has done great things for them” (vs. 2).

The response is one of exuberant joy. In the first three verses the Psalmist uses the terms “filled with laughter,” “shouts of joy,” and “we are glad.” This is a kind of joy which cannot be hidden. It is a visible joy. While God’s people will certainly experience griefs of all sorts, it is also true that in Christ we will know times of joy so full that it will be given visible expression. And how can it not be this way? The joy of deliverance from earthly tyrants is small compared to the deliverance from sin and death which is ours in Jesus Christ.

We come before God in worship this Sunday and sing, “Praise to the Lord, the Most High, the Almighty! Let us love and sing and wonder with joy because of Christ’s atoning work on the cross. He calls us to arise and rejoice at the what the Lord has done in us. Yes, rise and glory in our Redeemer.”