Sowing in Tears, Reaping in Joy.
A song of degrees, admonishing the believers to praise the Lord for the many evidences of His favor and to pray for its continued manifestation. V. 1. When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, restoring His people to the Land of Promise after the long years of exile, we were like them that dream. Whether this is a prophecy or a statement of historical fact, it sets forth the indescribable bliss of those who were privileged to return to the Land of Promise. V. 2. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, in an excess of jubilation, and our tongue with singing, with shouts of exultation; then said they among the heathen, who were informed of the decree of Cyrus permitting the Jews to return to their home country, The Lord hath done great things for them. This word is caught up by the faithful, as expressing their gratitude in the proper manner, v. 3. The Lord hath done great things for us, in providing this deliverance, altogether without their merit and worthiness, whereof we are glad. But while the first band of returned exiles thus voiced its happiness in hymns of praise to the Lord, others were still sighing for deliverance: v. 4. Turn again our captivity, O Lord, giving them also an opportunity to return to the Land of Promise, as the streams in the south, as the dry watercourses of the Plains of Judah were renewed with the opening of the rainy season and the entire country burst into blossoms. At the same time even these remaining exiles look forward to a joyful return to the country of their fathers. V. 5. They that sow in tears, almost with despair in their hearts, the allusion probably being to the tearful return of the exiles and to the rebuilding of the Temple amidst the tears of the people, shall reap in joy, the harvest bringing the Lord’s rich blessings. V. 6. He that goeth forth and weepeth, walking back and forth in his grief, bearing precious seed, patiently scattering his seed, hopefully laboring in the work given him by the Lord, shall doubtless come again, returning from his labors, with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him, God Himself having crowned his patient and hopeful efforts with rich success. It is the same thought which is expressed by St. Paul when he writes: “Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not,” Gal. 6, 9. At the same time the entire psalm is typical of the deliverance which awaits all the children of God, when God will turn the captivity of this vale of tears and give to all believers the reward of mercy by permitting them to share in the harvest of the deeds made possible by His mercy, in the blessings which He dispensed from His throne.