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THOSE WHO SOW IN TEARS WILL REAP WITH SONGS OF JOY

Psalm 126:1-126:6
Key Verse: 126:5

Psalm 126 is the seventh song of the songs of the ascents. What is a song of the ascents? It was the song which they sang when they were going to the temple. So this is a song that we can sing when we come to center. Israelites came back from the Captivity. They were kept for seventy years in Babylon. Now they were free. When they thought about their freedom they felt like dreaming. But also they had a tearful heart for those who could not return.

I. Testimony of Restoration (v1-3)

“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.”

We feel like dreaming when an amazing thing suddenly happens. Being freed from Babylon was unexpected work of God. For 70 years, they were war prisoners. They were forced to do hard labor day after day and year after year for canal constructions. But they were restored as God had promised through the prophet Jeremiah. God did not fail in his love. "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." Israelites' mouths were filled with laughter. Their laughing was from their heart. How good is to experience such work of God? This fall when sheep call to make appointments for the Bible study, our mouth will be filled with laughter. What could be something that we feel like dreaming? I felt like dreaming when I got the landed immigration from the Prime Minister Jeon Cretian. I pray that God may bring us many good things like those more and more in the coming years.

Being released from the captivity did not happen because Israelites grew powerful. It was by God's grace. Our God was the Almighty and Sovereign Lord who could deliver his people from the captivity. At the same time our God was merciful God who forgave their sin and restored them in his time. The nations in the world exclaimed, "The LORD has done great things for them." And Israelites proclaimed "The LORD has done great things for us."

Israel's delivery from the slavery would be the same as our delivery from our sins. Once we were slaves of sin. We suffered from the emptiness, loneness, and guiltiness because we did not have God due to our sins. Why people suffer from guiltiness? It is because they are guilty. Every natural man is guilty before Holy God. But God saved us from our sins through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We were freed and became the children of God. Eph 2:1,4 says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins … but because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ…”

Thank and praise God for saving us and giving us a new life. How good is it to live in freedom of spirit? The Psalmist confessed in Psalm 84:10, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked” What is a doorkeeper? It is a ‘security guard’ in modern terms.

But at the same time the Bible gives us warning not to use our freedom for sinning. Gal 5:13 says “…do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”

II. Prayer for the full Restoration (v4)

Look at verse 4. “Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.” Returned Israelites from the slavery were full of thanks and joy. But in their mind, they had an earnest plea toward God. It was for the fellow Israelites who could not return from the captivity. So they were praying for the restoration of the whole nation. NLV translates “Bring back our people, O Lord, like the rivers in the South.” Negev was the southern part of Hezron. Usually it was a dry land. But when there was rain before the growing season, the rivers were filled with fresh water. The dry barren land was restored into a fertile land by the blessing of God. Under God’s ‘showers of blessing’ the highways from the east would be filled with the returning captives someday.

We have the joy of salvation. Now we have to pray for others who do not have such joy. We have to pray for family salvation. We have to pray for our friends and people around us. And we have to pray for the campus students. There is no boundary for God’s salvation. Young and old, man and woman, Canadians and Kirgizstans, they all need God’s salvation equally. Last June a 114 year old woman died. She was in the second in age ranking. She heard of the gospel when she became 106 years old and she accepted the gospel. When she was saved, she was so happy. So she began to count her age from one like a new baby. When she became 107 she said to her family “I am two years old.” In her counting she was 14 years old when she died. The gospel could save such an old person and give her a new life.

There is no discrimination for the salvation of God. So we have to pray for the people who wouldn’t seem to accept Christ. When we pray souls will be saved. Jesus said in Mark 9:29 “This kind can come out only by prayer.” James 5:16 says “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” May we pray for the growth of our Bible students. Also may we pray for the restoration of U of T campus. May God restore Toronto like streams of Negev. Under God’s showers of blessing our center would be filled with Bible students. May God grant us a new center and fill our worship service with student worshippers.

When Spurgeon decided to share the gospel with one person a day, he experienced salvation more often. One day he shared the gospel with a man in the darkness on the way home. Later the man came to Spurgeon and repented saying he was planning to rob people that night. The other day on his bed he realized that he did not share the gospel, so he went out and took a taxi and the taxi driver was saved that night. May God use us as gospel sharers like Spurgeon in every situation.

III. Wisdom of Sowing and Reaping (v5,6)

Look at verses 5, 6 “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.”

Sowing in tears means ‘working hard’. Why ‘in tears’? Sowing is good. Why ‘tears’?

First, at that time there was a ritual of crying at the season of sowing. The crying was an earnest prayer for the harvest. When we have earnest heart we make tears. Jesus wept over Jerusalem because he desired earnestly to gather people in that city as a hen gathers her chicks.

Second, they could not eat the seeds for the sake of sowing. Even though they did not have food at all, they had to save the seeds for sowing. Not eating the grains of seed in hungry season was not easy. ‘Tears’ was the expression of such physical and mental tension. Third, farmers cried because the land was desolate. For seventy years the land was not cultivated and it required extra work for sowing in such land. The farmers cried with the limitation of time and labor.

“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy”. The land is faithful to the nature’s law. As long as they sow the land would produce the crop. But if they would not sow they could not expect anything. The MSG Bible translates, “Those who planted their crops in despair will shout HURRAHS at the harvest.” (What is HURRAHS? = Hurray, an exclamation of excitement, cheer, and victory.) HCSB describes “he will surely come back with shouts of joy” Here ‘SURELY’ is emphasized. In those verses Israelites show their resolution to overcome the obstacles in their new life. Also they are encouraging other people to work hard no matter how their situation was agonizingly difficult and frustrating.

I still remember what Late Dr. Samuel Lee was speaking at the international conference. If a mountain doesn’t move by my command, I would dig out the mountain with my hands and move it little by little until it disappears. He had a never give up spirit. Gal 6: 9 says “So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up”

All of us will start a new semester. Our Bible students will have a lot of essay, quizzes and exams. Our leaders will have another semester of gospel sowing at the campus. We realize that there is no easy way. Students might need overnight work and sometimes tears for the challenging studies. Many of us should overcome tired body after a day of work to go to the campus. But one thing is sure we will reap if we sow. “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” May God help us to serve God through continuous sowing in each situation. Let’s read the key verse one more time.

Written by Peter Moon

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