“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Our mouths were filled with laughter then, and our tongues with shouts of joy. Then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord had done great things for us; we were joyful. Restore our fortunes, Lord, like watercourses in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves” (Psalms 126:1-6 CSB).
This psalm opens with the celebration of the most-prominent, historic moment of Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity. Israel, who experienced deliverance in Exodus, sadly needed another release from captivity. God’s people had been come into captivity, again. However, in this psalm, we celebrate God’s dramatic and sovereign intervention. God brings Israel back into their land with resources and backing to build the nation up.
The psalmist likens this restoration to a dream; a truly surreal experience “filled with laugher” and “shouts of joy.” This moment of redemption caused even foreign nations to pause, ponder, and praise. When God restores the fortunes of Israel, even their neighbors acknowledge His great deeds.
Yet, the change of the grammatical tense in verse three reveals that even though God has done great things, there’s still a desire for God to continue His work of restoration. Author Derek Kidner gives a helpful contrast of God’s provision and Israel’s longings. Kidner writes, “Delirious happiness and relief – such is the mood recaptured in the first half of the song. But now it is only a memory, and the psalm turns into prayer for a comparable transformation of a barren and cheerless scene.”
As I consider the state of our Association, we still have much to celebrate. God has graciously kept many of our churches healthy and even growing over a most unusual couple years. We continue to witness the miracle of lost people saved, broken families restored, and believers sent all over the world with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Yet, my heart longs for God to “restore our fortunes.” For God to reclaim our hearts for the gospel and for collaborative unity, to pray and plan for Kingdom impact, to model the community found in Acts 2, that “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer” (Acts 2:42 CSB).
Even through my desires may represent what feels like a lofty ideal or even a dream, Psalm 126 encourages my faith to believe that if God could restore the people of Israel, then He could do it again with us for the sake of His kingdom and glory.
Let’s pray for God to hear our prayers and restore our fortunes once again.
SBA Interim Administrator.