Psalm 126: He Has Done Great Things
Supper Table Psalms
By Zach Dietrich
This spring, Pastor Zach began a new series of short family devotions that you can read along with Soteria’s psalm of the month. The Dietrich family calls them Supper Table Psalms because they just so happen to read psalms at suppertime. But each family is different. Whether it’s in the morning at breakfast or in the evening at suppertime, during family time in the living room or before lights out at bedtime, make moments to read God’s word together. As we consider July’s psalm––Psalm 126––read it one more time with your family and consider how God has done great things.
Psalm 126 helps us sing praise to God because He has done great things. I might also add that Psalm 126 is an ancient song. Actually, all 150 psalms are ancient songs from a foreign land. Sometimes, psalms sing of great things by referencing places we’ve never been or using word pictures that seem…well, ancient. What is the Negeb or Zion, for example?
You might think “ancient” means out of date like last summer’s worn out sneakers. Useful, but only until you can afford new ones. No, the psalms are treasures––ancient masterpieces from the mouth of God. If we travel to ancient places and unearth the word pictures, we will see with new joy the great things God has done for us. Not only that, but they may also help us think of our own words, pictures, or places that help us praise God for the great things He has done for us. Let’s explore this psalm together.
“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion…”
– Psalm 126:1 (ESV)
More than 30 psalms talk about Zion, so we should know what it is. Or rather, where it is. Zion was a fortress that David captured and made his city (2 Samuel 5:7). Eventually, the whole hill of Solomon’s temple was called Zion. Zion was a special place, but it was more than a place. Like an expanding city, Zion also grew to mean God’s special people.
Nowadays, when we say church, we mean the people, but we also sometimes mean the place the people meet. Zion is like that––a people and a place. Psalm 126 remembers how God restored and rescued Zion. The saddest part of Israel’s history was how the people of Zion were attacked, robbed, kidnapped, and enslaved, the city knocked down. But, one of their gladdest days was when God freed, restored, and rebuilt them. The greatest thing God has done for us is even better. Jesus has rescued and restored us from our sin. God has done great things!
“We were like those who dream…”
– Psalm 126:1 (ESV)
“We are glad,” sings Psalm 126. “Our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy” (Psalm 126:2). They were overflowing with happiness. They were so glad, they thought they were dreaming. When something seems too good to be true, you say things like, “Pinch me so I know this is real,” or “It’s like a dream come true.” Or, “My dream was so amazing that I didn’t want to wake up.” According to Psalm 126, God has done great things that are better than dreams come true. We will never wake up and discover God’s great things are only a dream.
“Like streams in the Negeb…”
– Psalm 126:4 (ESV)
The Negeb (or Negev) is also a place in Israel. If you could visit the Negeb, most of the time you’d find hot, dry land and dried up streams. But every once in a while, the rains came. When it rained, it poured. Does that help you understand when Psalm 126 asks God to restore us like the streams of Negeb? We know that even though God has rescued us from sin, we still live in a dry and thirsty land. God will one day completely restore us. We will be like a once thirsty river now overflowing. We will be like a shriveled flower now in bloom. God never stops doing great things!
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!”
– Psalm 126:5 (ESV)
Psalm 126 ends with a word picture that you may not see often, but it would have been a common sight in Bible times. Sowing, reaping, and sheaves. Do you know what that is? No, not a needle sewing thread. Sowers, or we could say farmers, sowed by pulling handfuls of seed from a basket and scattering it across fields. Have you heard the story Jesus told about sowing seed? If sowing is planting, then reaping is harvesting.
Sheaves are the bundles of grain that were reaped. Psalm 126:5 sings, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” God takes all of our sowing––our tears, our prayers, and our work for Jesus––and will bring a harvest of shouts of joy. God does great things!