A song of degrees
Thanksgiving for restoration
1: When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. 2: Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. 3: The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. 4: Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south. 5: They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. 6: He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
A song of degrees of Solomon
1: Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. 2: It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. 3: Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. 4: As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5: Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Today we are reading Psalms 126 & 127. Both of the Psalms are Psalms of the degrees. Psalm 126 is the seventh Psalm in this series and it describes Jehovah’s promised help. It is the first of the triplet which describes the distress that the people of God faced and the Lords deliverance. We read in 2Kings 19…
32: Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. 33: By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. 34: For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
And in 2Chron 32…10: Thus saith Sennacherib king of Assyria, Whereon do ye trust, that ye abide in the siege in Jerusalem?... 15: Now therefore let not Hezekiah deceive you, nor persuade you on this manner, neither yet believe him: for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of mine hand, and out of the hand of my fathers: how much less shall your God deliver you out of mine hand?... 17: He wrote also letters to rail on the LORD God of Israel, and to speak against him, saying, As the gods of the nations of other lands have not delivered their people out of mine hand, so shall not the God of Hezekiah deliver his people out of mine hand.
Isa 36…20: Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand? 21: But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king's commandment was, saying, Answer him not. 22: Then came Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, that was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.
37v11: Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered?
So in this Psalm the psalmist says, when the Lord delivered us from the siege of Jerusalem it was like a dream come true. Then we burst out into laughter and singing and the nations round about said The LORD has done great things for them. But we said the LORD has done great things for us, of which we are glad. Lord he said may our captivity be turned into a torrent like the rivers of the desert. Lord we have sown in tears, may we reap in joy. The sower goes out in tears carrying precious seed in time of famine but if he sows he will return in joy bringing back a great harvest. Psalm 127 is the eighth Psalm of the songs of degrees. And it is written ‘for David’s sake’. It was selected by Hezekiah to be the central Psalm of the 15.
2Kings 19…34: For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
The city of Jerusalem was saved for David’s sake because the Lord had promised that David’s seed would remain and sit on his throne and David’s successor was Solomon, the subject of this Psalm.
2 Kings 20…5: Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. 6: And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
The Psalmist says that the building of David’s house was something that only the Lord would be able to do. We are not talking about David’s physical house. It’s not a building that we are reading of, but ‘The house of David’ in terms of his children’s children, his descendants. This comes out very clearly, in that Hezekiah had no heir. But the Lord delivered him from this major stumbling block to the fulfilment of the Covenant with David and gave him a son. Then he speaks of the hopelessness of his situation and the trouble of mind it brought him in long hours of waiting on the Lord and in fasting. The Lord gives to those that he loves the rest, of knowing that the Lords concerns are in his hands and that he does not sleep or forget. Then he says, children are my inheritance from the Lord and the Lord has rewarded me with the fruit of the womb. Arrows in the hand of a mighty man are a great resource and in the same way children are a great blessing. Blessed is the man whose has many children, and he will not be ashamed, because they will defend him against his opponents at the gate of the city.
- How does the Psalmist describe the experience of Gods restoration of his people?
- How does the Psalmist describe the futility of human strength?
- Why does Joy follow weeping?