Psalm 126 (Psalms on the Trail)

Psalm 126

Psalm 126

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,

then we were like those who dream.

Then was our mouth filled with laughter,

and our tongues with shouts of joy.

Then they said among the nation,

‘The Lord has done great things for them.’

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed.”

The psalmist’s words above are full of excitement.  Something has happened for God’s people.  All the surrounding nations sat up and noticed.  There is some historical support that this psalm was written as a result of the Jewish exiles in Babylon being set free to return home and rebuild.  But in the middle of the psalm, I hear I slight shift.  I wonder if it isn’t because the work of rebuilding is not easy.  Their return to the rubble of Jerusalem and to the reality of the surrounding  destruction of property and homes must have been heartbreaking.  They were faced with a laborious challenge.  Listen to the psalmist’s next words:

“Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses of the Negeb.

Those who sowed in tears will reap with songs of joy.

Those who go out weeping carrying the seed,

will come again, shouldering their sheaves.”

In these last words I hear a call for God to help with the hard work of restoration, an acknowledgement of the pain and challenge, but nevertheless a clear sense of hope for the future.

In a superficial way that is the story of a trail backpacking venture for me: the joy of having a schedule cleared and the freedom to set out into the unknown; the actual pain, sweat, hard work and doubting that accompany the carrying and climbing; the hope that I will eventually succeed in getting to the destination safely, experience the rewards of nature’s beauty and a stronger body.

On a much deeper level, however, this has been my story of walking with a congregation seeking renewal and redevelopment: the joy and enthusiasm of being “set free” to be coached in an intentional process; the difficulties, resistance and uncertainties in the actual work of redevelopment; the hope for the joy in seeing God’s work accomplished through our congregation—whatever that ends up looking like.

But as faithful followers of Christ, that is often our story, isn’t it?  Joyful beginnings, tears in the hard work, hope in God’s future.  How has this process has been true for you? What is your hard work now?  What is your hope?


1. Take this verse with you and ponder its meaning for you throughout the day.

2. Or read the whole psalm to find out how this one verse fits into the whole.

3. Or comment with a photo of your own that is a window of this psalm’s meaning for you.

The next post will be on Psalm 127.

Starting January 1, 2016, for 150 days I am posting a daily psalm verse with a photo that is a visual meditation on the text for me.  Each day a verse from the next psalm is chosen until all 150 psalms have been featured.   To participate you may subscribe to my blog at or “friend” me on Facebook and watch for the daily links to blog posts.  Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and most of the photos are from a cell phone or small camera while hiking the Appalachian Trail or the C&O Canal/Great Allegheny Passage Trail.