Restore Us Again - Psalm 126

A song of ascents

When the Lord restored the fortunes(a) of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed(b).
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes(c), Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
-Psalm 126 (NIV)

Have you ever got something back that you lost or was taken away from you?  Have you ever been so happy about what God has done for you, that you can not stop smiling?  Have you ever experienced a miracle or God giving you something even better than you thought was possible?

This is what God has always done for his children.  He restores or gives back to us what was lost or stolen.  God has always had a plan to restore his captive people, to restore again what was lost or taken from them. I love the fact that this Hebrew word for restore, has 'again' in it, as in, "do it again", or "again give what was lost".

The idea here in Psalm 126 is, "God, you restored before, now please do it again".  We can ask God to do something for us that we have seen him do for someone here and now, or people in history.  The common denominator is God.  God has always desired to restore us.

The history of God's work among people should give us cause to ask God to do something like that again.  This seems to be the case with the author of this psalm  and it can be for us too.  We, in the west, need revival and great awakening.  "God, do it again".

God wants to do a reversal of fortune.  God wants to give back and bring back people and things that have been lost or stolen.  It is what he does.  This is what happened to the man named Job (Job 42:10).

Older translations say, "turn back our captivity".  What these two translations mean (restore our fortunes & turn back our captivity) is the idea bringing a person or people out the the state of being held back or being in bondage.

You may be in poor health, but not be in bondage; or you may be without wealth, but have the joy of the Lord.  The bigger idea or point of the restoration or deliverance that is being prayed for is that you have had your inheritance withheld, stolen, or side-tracked.  You have lost your joy that your were born to walk in.

The picture is a people who are not being who they were born to be, either because they have had something stolen or because they have been removed from their place of destiny.  That is the bridge of "in common" that we may have with the original writer and hearers of Psalm 126.  You may be in your land, but not living the life you were meant to live, or you may be removed from your land and longing to return.

Job is an example of a person that had everything taken from him, except his very life, a few friends, and his wife.  He went through a terrible time and then God restored his fortunes, or brought him out of captivity.

Psalm 126 has counsel for what to do in the between time, before restoration happens.  It says to, "sow in tears".  It also says that those who do sow tears or, "go out weeping", will, "return with songs of joy".  The psalmist says to plant the seeds of your tears, like a farmer, and you will reap songs of joy.

So, we are admonished to release our sorrow into the ground and weep as we walk.  We need to do grieving and keep walking.  We are the people or the church of the walking wounded.  Walking and weeping are part of the journey.

If you do not let the pain go, release the tears, or do your grief work; and if you refuse to walk on, in spite of your loses, then you will not grow and become stuck.  Job, as an example, kept walking towards God, and his book is his journal.  Journaling is a way to record your life, even when it does not make sense.

I heard someone say that lament is the highest form of worship. The man that said this lost his brother in a freak accident and also had a very difficult marriage.  Tears and weeping are a good thing, invented by God.  Let them flow freely and get free of binding grief.

There are three ideas in this psalm for us to get.  Number one, we need to know about what God has done in the past in regards to restoring his people to what they were born to be.  We need to know about the exhilaration of God bringing a reversal of fortune.  We need to hear the stories of the moves of God.

You may be someone who longs for revival, renewal, and awakening.  You may get it, that saints before us have experienced more, and you desire more.  You may read the Bible and say, "why not me, why not now?".

Or, you may be, to a degree, like Job, and have had your stuff stolen.  It might be your destiny, your inheritance, your health, your reputation, or a hundred other examples.  You can definitely chime in with the psalmist and agree, saying, "restore my fortunes", or, "bring me back from captivity", or, "restore the fortunes of your people".

It is great to see what can be, then realize what you don't have and ask for it, but if the prayers are not immediately answered, we sow tears and weep in our journey.  The three must go together:
  1. Awareness of what has been and is possible. 
  2. Desire & request for destinies & inheritances to be fulfilled; personal; and for the community.
  3. Maintaining equilibrium, as we do our grief work, and walk on towards God, in our brokenness. 
"What is grief work?", you might ask.  God gave us the gift of grieving our losses, so that we can be healed.  People who have grieved will have scars, but be on the road to wholeness, even though they are broken.  People who don't grieve, have open wounds and become 'touchy', neurotic people who are anxious and pained by much of their lives and might have to mask it constantly.  Remember, that Jesus had great sorrow and was very familiar with grief.  You, as his disciple are completely normal to be someone to has tears of sorrow and grief, and walks with weeping.

We are all broken people, who have suffered losses to some degree.  What we do not deal with does not just go away, but goes underground.  It might show up in lack of feeling, control, or addictions.

And we do not grieve as the world grieves.  In the world, they do not have hope.  At best, they hope in hope, which is false hope.  Believers hope in God.  And this psalm ends with a promise that as you shed tears and go forward weeping, God will surprise you with joy.  Joy is surprising when you have grieved, but that is what God does for his children.  Try it.

We grieve the God way and then we cycle back to considering the great things God has done, and again we pray, "do it again".  We get a revelation on what has been stolen, in one way or another, from us, and ask God to restore it to us.  With the shedding of tears and the life of weeping, fellowship-ing with the man of sorrows, in his sufferings; we pray from pure hearts, asking Father for what is ours.  The tears and the gift of joy promised to weeping walkers, cleanses our hearts from any bitterness or spiritual heart disease.  

This was the seventh song or seventh step in the songs of ascent or pilgrim songs (Psalms 120-134). To review Psalms 120-126, as steps of degrees:

  1. We learn to call upon God and that God saves us and answers prayers.
  2. We learn that God is our guardian, watching over us.
  3. We learn to be worshipers, desiring God.
  4. We choose to humble ourselves as servants as we ask for mercy.
  5. We cultivate seeing God's workings in our lives, then sharing the stories.
  6. We learn to live a life of trusting the Lord, that brings security.
  7. We discover that there is more or we have lost something and ask God for it and learn to release the grief of our hope differed, through tears and we persevere in our walk towards God, with weeping as we walk, and experience astonishing joy from God. 

NIV Footnotes:
a. Or Lord brought back the captives to
b. Or those restored to health
c. Or Bring back our captives
d. Or Will restore you fortunes