Psalm 126:5, 6 — Sow And Reap -- By: Alan P. Anger

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 11:2 (Summer 1968)
Article: Psalm 126:5, 6 — Sow And Reap
Author: Alan P. Anger

Psalm 126:5, 6 — Sow And Reap

Alan P. Anger

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” —Psalm 126:5–6

This is one of the psalms of degrees or steps; it could also mean a psalm of ascent. These psalms, numbering fourteen in all, compose a small psalmistry which could have been used by the pilgrims as they made their way to Jerusalem a number of times a year. Psalm 126 is one of the psalms which has not been assigned to a special author.

This psalm can easily be divided into two sections of three verses each. The first section has to do with the joy of deliverance from captivity. The deliverance was like a dream to the remnant which returned; they laughed and sang for joy. Both the Jews and the heathen glorified God because of the great things which He had done. The second section goes a step further from the deliverance to the settlement in the promised land. Verse four is, as it were, a petition by the remnant to God to bring about the success of the deliverance as the streams of the south. The streams are probably the ones which dry up during the dry season but become as rushing torrents in the spring. Verses five and six seem to be God’s answer to this petition by the people. They asked for a flood of success as they began again in the promised land, and here God lays down a principle of success.

It will be noticed in the first four verses, with the exception of the second half of verse two, the Jews seem to be speaking, using the first common plural. In the second half of verse two the heathen are speaking, and the third plural is used. In verse five the psalmist changes from the first person plural, without any explanation, to the third person masculine plural. In verse six is another change, without warning or explanation, to the third masculine singular. It would seem from this that God gives the principle of success in verse five in answer to the people’s petition and then expands it by an illustration in verse six.

Verse five begins with the phrase: “They that sow in tears.” These words indicate that God puts no premium on laziness; there is work to be done before rewards can be received. In the context the Jews had asked for a flood of success as they returned from captivity. God, therefore, indicates in this verse and in verse six that such desired success would be prefaced by an extremely hard effort. Ezra and Nehemiah show that this was the experience of the remnant as they returned to the promised ...

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