Songs for the Road: The Psalms of Ascent

Day 9: Sowing in Tears, Reaping in Joy

Scripture Reading: Psalm 126

The Christian life is a climb—a journey of constant growth, sacrifice, and trusting God for what we cannot see. As Eugene Peterson said, we are pilgrims, but we are also disciples—always moving and always learning. The Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) were sung by worshipers as they made the journey up to Jerusalem for the annual feasts. In this 3-week reading plan, we are digging into these traveling songs with the help of short summary essays and thoughtful, reflective questions for each psalm. Take your pack on your shoulder and walk with us as we pursue God together.

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Psalm 126 (CSB)
ZION’S RESTORATION
A song of ascents.

1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 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.”
3 The LORD had done great things for us;
we were joyful.

4 Restore our fortunes, LORD,
like watercourses in the Negev.
5 Those who sow in tears
will reap with shouts of joy.
6 Though one goes along weeping,
carrying the bag of seed,
he will surely come back with shouts of joy,
carrying his sheaves.

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A Song of Sorrow and Joy
It is a sign of emotional maturity to be able to feel more than one thing at a time. The pilgrim-disciple in this song is walking through a sad season, but he remembers with joy a time the Lord restored Israel’s fortunes. It was like a dream, and he longs for the Lord to do it again.

We may go out weeping today, sowing our seeds in tears, but there is a harvest of joy we shall reap for all eternity. For now, we live in the tension.

Reflect
1. Name a time in your life when you were filled with the joy described in Psalm 126:2. What made your season of joy so happy?

2. Name a time in your life when you were filled with the sorrow described in Psalm 126:5-6. What made that season so hard? Do you mask pain? If so, how and why?

3. What has God done to assure us that our eternal destiny is one filled with joy? How do we live in the tension between grieving painful times and living in the joy of Christ?