Read: Psalm 126:1; Jeremiah 25:11, 12; 29:10; Daniel 9:2; 2 Chronicles 36:22 – 23
“The captivity of Zion” referred to in Psalm 126:1 refers to the Babylonian captivity which was predicted by Jeremiah and brought to an end, according to the will of the Lord, by the edict of Cyrus (around 536 B.C.). This action of Cyrus was predicted over 150 years previously by Isaiah (44:28 – 45:1), who even mentioned Cyrus by name.
Think About It: Scholars who engage in “higher criticism” — that is, those who use modernist, supposedly scientific, methods to analyze scripture, and who dismiss the concept of divine revelation, explain the mention of Cyrus by Isaiah as being part of a later addition. Higher criticism, in order to explain away the prophetic mention of Cyrus, invents a “second Isaiah,” comprising the latter chapters of the prophecy, which supposedly date from after the return from exile. There is, however, no physical evidence for a second Isaiah. What presuppositions underlie this higher critical invention of a second Isaiah? What is so difficult about believing in the possibility of revelation from God? Do I accept the concept of Divine revelation of truth?
Prayer: Lord, illumine me.
Read: Psalm 126:1; 2 Chronicles 36:14 – 17; Leviticus 26:26 – 45
In a revelation to Moses God warned that exile would be a punishment for sin and promised restoration on the basis of repentance. Over the centuries that followed that warning to Moses, God sent many more prophetic warnings to Israel, not the least of which was the destruction and exile of the ten northern tribes.
Think About It: What warnings and promises do I have from God today (e.g. Acts 17:31, Revelation 22:12)? Am I paying attention?
Prayer: Lord, help me to pay attention to Your warnings, and trust Your promises.
Read: Psalm 126:1; Proverbs 5:22; John 8:34; Acts 8:23; Romans 6:12, 16
The captivity of Zion was a punishment for sin. There is another kind of captivity related to sin – the enslavement to sin itself. Being a slave to sin is its own immediate punishment, which in no way lessens the threat of ultimate judgment.
Think About It: What is the essential lie involved in any temptation to sin (Genesis 3:4)? What is the truth about sin (Romans 6:23)? When does that “death” begin (Genesis 2:17)? What is meant by the phrase, “The pleasures of sin for a season?” (Hebrews 11:25)?
Prayer: Lord, help me to remember the truth about the consequences of sin, and stand firm against temptation.
Read: Psalm 126:1; Romans 6:18 – 22, 8:1 – 2; John 8:23 – 36; Galatians 5:1;
1 Peter 2:16
The Lord ended the captivity of the Jews. Only He could “turn again” the captivity of Zion. He did so through a human agent, King Cyrus, but revealed His sovereign control over circumstances through the ancient prophecy. Human choices ran in the channels dug out from all eternity by the sovereign will of God.
Think About It: Psalm 126 invites comparison between the captivity of the Jews and the universal human captivity to sin. What is the only means of freedom from the bonds of sin? Have I been set free? If I have been set free, what is my responsibility?
Prayer: Praise God for freedom; pray for the wisdom to keep that freedom.
Read: Psalm 126:1 – 3; Luke 8:26 – 39
The Lord’s deliverance of His people from captivity brought a joy so profound it seemed too good to be true: “We were like them that dream.” God’s people laughed and sang. Among the heathen it was said, “The Lord has done great things for them,” and God’s people agreed.
Think About It: Read the story of the Gadarene demoniac in Luke 8:26 – 39. How did the Gadarene people respond to Jesus? What did Jesus tell the former demoniac to do? Jesus returned to this area later (it was part of the Decapolis region) — how did the people receive Him then (Mark 7:31 – 37)? What was the likely significance of the former demoniac’s testimony? Do I give a clear, joyful testimony that the Lord has done great things for me?
Prayer: Thank the Lord He has done great things for me.
Read: Psalm 126:3 – 4; Psalm 125:3; Psalm 6:3; Psalm 90:13
Psalm 126 illustrates the promise of Psalm 125:3, “The rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous.” God will provide deliverance for His people. The question is, when? How long?
Think About It: Most of us have some burden, some concern, some question, for which we have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for a resolution. About what am I asking, “How long, O Lord?” Of what can I be assured?
Prayer: How long, O Lord? Grant me patience and perseverance.
Read: Psalm 126:5 – 6; John 16:20 – 22; Philippians 4:4; James 4:8 – 10
We are to go out weeping and sowing; we will return joyful and with a harvest.
Think About It: How does James 4:8 – 10 help explain Psalm 126:6? What are we supposed to be sowing? Why are we to weep? What changes our weeping to rejoicing?
Prayer: Lord, grant me more sorrow over my sin, more willingness to repent, more joy at forgiveness.