PSALM 126#A lament probably sung shortly after Israel’s return from exile. The people rejoice that they are in Zion (Ps 126:1–3) but mere presence in the holy city is not enough; they must pray for the prosperity and the fertility of the land (Ps 126:4). The last verses are probably an oracle of promise: the painful work of sowing will be crowned with life (Ps 126:5–6).
The Reversal of Zion’s Fortunes
1A song of ascents.
When the Lord restored the captives of Zion,#a. [126:1] Ps 14:7.
we thought we were dreaming.
2Then our mouths were filled with laughter;
our tongues sang for joy.#b. [126:2] Jb 8:21.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord had done great things for them.”
3The Lord has done great things for us;
Oh, how happy we were!
4Restore our captives, Lord,
like the dry stream beds of the Negeb.#Like the dry stream beds of the Negeb: the psalmist prays for rain in such abundance that the dry riverbeds will run.
5Those who sow in tears
will reap with cries of joy.#c. [126:5] Bar 4:23; Is 65:19.
6Those who go forth weeping,
carrying sacks of seed,
Will return with cries of joy,
carrying their bundled sheaves.