Psalm 126 pt. 1: “A Song”


182523902_57b57188e5“When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
The Lord has done great things for us;
We are glad.” (v. 1-3)

Charles Spurgeon noted that Psalm 126 is broken up into three portions, and we will take the next three days to delve into them:

“a song” (vv. 1-3)

“a prayer” (v.4)

“a promise” (vv. 5-6)

It’s a remarkable Psalm with a true prophetic anointing, an eschatological vision, and very present implications for us as believers. I want to peer into this deep well to see what waters we might gather up, that we may drink deeply of the glorious mercy of God.

The first portion, “a song” (1-3), gives us an awesome picture of Israel at the end of the age, after the smoke of Jacob’s trouble has dissipated. The heightened intensity of their last-days’ salvation experience is such that they describe themselves as “those who dream.” By this time they have passed through such trial, breaking, and devastation, that all of the self-reliance and boasting has been wrung out of their souls. Ezekiel 37 notes that the whole house of Israel will despairingly declare, “Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.” (Ez. 37.11) That day will be so dark for the world, and for Israel in this regard, that they will consider themselves “completely cut off.” It will be a day of dual extremes. The nations will have never known such darkness and despair. You could combine the wars, natural catastrophes, and governmental shakings of history, and they would still fail to meet the profoundly dark nature of that final day of distress. 

But as the darkness will be more extreme than history has ever known, so shall the glorious inbreaking of God’s Kingly return, when the remnant of Israel (those who have survived and found grace in the wilderness) shall hear the heavenly ram’s horn blowing in the distance. They will find themselves, after being stretched thin by the trial of that day, looking upon the One they have pierced, and the waves of God’s mercy and salvation will move through them like an uncontainable tide. Seeing the light and glory of God like never before, they will be “like those who dream.” 

I have seen actors awarded with an Oscar who completely lost it emotionally and fell apart before millions of people, having been overwhelmed at the grandeur of the moment. I’ve seen them weep copious tears, tremble and gasp, and lose all of their intelligible qualities, and its all over a little hunk of metal, and the fleeting applause of colleagues. Even with such a temporal reward, we see the gleam in their eyes, and in many ways they have become “like those who dream.” But not in the Psalm 126 sense. Hear Hans Joachim-Kraus on this:

“At the very beginning of the psalm the faith of the community spreads the wings of its thoughts in a bold flight into the future, and looks into the smiling fields of blissful hope as through a widely opened gate.” 

(Hans Joachim Kraus, PSALMS; Fortress Press) 

The description given here of eschatological Israel makes an Oscar, an MVP award, or a job promotion look like a used tissue in the bottom of a trash can. Israel, when she is saved as a nation at the end of the age, will be so overwhelmed with the majesty of God, the depth of His mercy, and the kindness of His heart, that they will be surrounded on every side with surprise, astonishment and awe, and their national response will be that of intensely mourning their own history of ignorance and rebellion toward Him. Out of the Lord’s radical release of mercy and cleansing, and out from the place of mourning and shame, they will break into such a profound experience of grace that as a nation they will emerge, “a kingdom of priests” and a “light to the world.”

They will go, in one fell swoop, from being a nation mostly made up of apostates, to immediately being a purged and consecrated nation, fulfilling once and for all the Lord’s eternal intention for their existence. The experience is so sudden that the prophet Isaiah, in seeing visions of the same events, was compelled to cry out, “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in a day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons.” (Is. 66.8)

They will hear Yahweh singing over them with joy, and they will be quieted and stilled by His love (Zeph. 3.14-17). The whole earth will reverberate with the testimony of Jesus over them, and they will experience, for the first time on a national level, unveiled communion with the Messiah whom they had pierced, but whose Blood has effected their saving by that very piercing. O the joy of that day! No wonder they can only describe themselves as “those who dream.”

Out of that glorious place they are thus described:     

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
The Lord has done great things for us;
We are glad.” (vv. 2-3)

Such is the nature of the glorious salvation that we have been grafted into through the Man Christ Jesus. Are we living a hum-drum life, or are we “like those who dream”? The Holy Spirit has been given, “that our joy may be full.”  Look upon the future salvation of Israel, saints. The same inward reality has been opened up to us by the Blood of the Lamb, and we need not live lackluster, earthy lives. The glory of communion has been given once and for all in the cross. Turn heavenward then, dear soul. You may yet hear Him singing over you, and your life and heart will be quieted by His love.


One thought on “Psalm 126 pt. 1: “A Song”

  1. The glorious redemption of Israel at the end of the age always astounds my heart. What kind of God is this that takes a stiff necked people and makes them His personal treasure among all the nations? What kind of God endures their rejection, taking pleasure in the degree that He will again redeem them and bring them into the most intimate of all relationships with Him? I’ve been in Hosea recently astounded by the promises of God amidst the faithlessness of Israel.

    My heart is left only to worship as I consider the One who likewise would stoop low enough to pursue my own heart in which I see my own depravity more clearly by the day.

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