A song of ascents.
1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
2 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.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, LORD,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
How would you feel if something happened to your home? If you lost your entire livelihood, all your possessions? It’s a horrible thought. But this was what the people of Israel experienced when their land was conquered by the Babylonians (2 kings 24). And one thing you notice when you read the Psalms, is just how much their hopes were bound up in Zion – the place of the temple – and the promise of a secure land. So when this was taken away, it brought despair and sorrow.
When the exiles returned from the land, it initially brought joy, and this Psalm reflects their experience of finding that joy. “When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed.” (126:1) But it didn’t bring lasting joy. Joy seems to lie in the past, and the present is filled with tears. So the Psalmist prays, “Restore our fortunes, LORD…those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy”. (126:4-5) So what is the hope for the people of Israel? How will they journey from sorrow to joy?
In John’s gospel we’re told that Jesus makes his home with us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (Jn. 1:14) The word, “dwelling”, is literally, “tabernacle”, which is where we get the temple. Jesus fulfils the temple. The people of Israel had their hopes set on Zion and the temple as the symbol of God’s presence. They were pinning their hopes on the sign, and not on the thing the sign pointed to – God. Ultimately, the temple was a signpost for the coming messiah who would “dwell” with his people.
Because Jesus fulfils the temple, we come to him for the forgiveness of our sins; it’s through him that we have access to our heavenly Father, and a relationship that can never be torn down or shaken. This is what gives us lasting joy, knowing that the word of Christ “dwells” in us. (Col. 3:16) And we look forward to the day when we will share in the eternal joy of home – dwelling with God forever (Rev. 21:22).
HEAD: What have you learnt about Jesus from Psalm 126? What have you learnt about yourself?
HEART: How do you feel that Jesus came to make his home with us – a permanent, secure, intimate home?
HANDS: Jesus has made his home with us now. But we’re still looking forward to a future home. As you go about your day, how will you live differently knowing this is not your permanent home?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I praise you because I have a secure place in Jesus who made his home with me. Father, thank you that through Jesus’ death and resurrection I have a personal relationship with you – where I know you, and am known by you. By your Spirit, help me to live each day knowing there is nothing I can do to change that. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.