Psalm 126 - Men Who Dream
Psalm 126:1-6 NIV
When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for them."
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:4-6 MSG
And now, GOD, do it again – bring rains to our drought-stricken lives. So those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest. So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.
How has Christian life been for me? Prior to my baptism about thirty years ago, I was told that it wouldn’t be a bed of roses. I took it with a pinch of salt, not really registering that warning in my head. I was only 20! But as I reflect back over the last 30 years, there have been more challenges than I had expected. When the challenges did not go away, my soul thirsts and my spirit dried up.
There are times when difficulties don’t seem to turn around even as we labour hard to solve them. For 70 years, the Jews were exiled to Babylon, with no hope and future. In 539BC, Cyrus led Persia to conquer Babylon. This ended the 70 years of exile and the “Lord brought back the captives to Zion” (Jerusalem).
“I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the Lord Almighty.” (Isaiah 45:13)
The credit shouldn’t go to Cyrus as it was God who raised him up and enabled him to free the Jews; "The Lord has done great things for them." Would the Jews have known then that God was raising up someone from afar to rescue them from the Babylonians? God works in mysterious ways and His plans are beyond our understanding. Even if the situation we are in right now doesn’t look good, we can be assured that God is righteous and He has a plan to turn it around.
The Jews were jubilant, “We are filled with joy.” But the joy of their return was quickly tested, as the Jews faced the reality that their city and temple were utterly destroyed. The Jews pleaded with God, “Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.” The weather in Zion is dry between May and October. But when the rain comes, they create torrents of water to fill the rivers, bringing life back.
So, as mentioned earlier, life after my baptism wasn’t a bed of roses but filled with challenges. There were times when my spiritual life went dry, and I lived on ‘stale water’ from the past. The memory of past victories only brings sadness, as I ask why life isn’t as good as it used to be. Like the Jews who came back to Zion and found life tough, I can ask God to revive my soul! Bring me back to you, Lord! Water me with your Living Water and replenish my soul (Psalm 42).
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds... Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:2,12)
We may “sow in tears”, but we “will reap with songs of joy.” Our hard work through our trials will be worth it. The tears that cascade down our face will be over as we “will come home laughing”.
Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14) This living water, the Holy Spirit, has come to us to water and revive our soul. We can dream again.
Keeping in step with the Holy Spirit isn’t easy because I fall so easily, and that hurts. But knowing that the Holy Spirit will counsel and help me, I have hope. The hope is bittersweet, a mixture of sorrow and the love of God.
What is it that you’re toiling at now that is tough for you? While people around us may be cold to us or even harm us, rest assured that God is righteousness and He has a plan for us. Just as God raised Cyrus, God can turn the hearts of the people around us. Our suffering as Christians will be bittersweet, but it’ll be all worth it.
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. (Romans 5:5)
For the Boston World Mission Seminar 1989, our church wrote a song called “Men who Dream”. The song is inspired by this psalm, and starts with this verse, “Captives came back into Zion, from their freedom came a scheme. While the city it lay in ruin, we believe they had a dream...” It is such a wonderful song, as it is a song of hope. I will continue to be a dreamer.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.