70 years is a vast amount of time … if you’re aged 70 or above I honour and congratulate you.

For 70 years God’s ancient people endured ignominious captivity in Babylon, before being permitted to return to their homeland. Many of those who returned were born in captivity, had never seen ‘the land of promise’, and were entirely dependent on childhood stories, which fired their imagination and longing for the ‘home’ they’d never known.

Psalm 126 is a short piece describing the emotions of that return from captivity, the adversity faced on arrival, and the hope brought to them by prophetic input.

Here we may discover something of our own journey towards God … often experienced in three repeating stages/cycles:-

 1 – HAPPINESS – described in vs 1-3 – A Dreaming

Whenever God works to bring about release to captives there is a sense of joy. Sometimes it seems too good to be true, almost like we’re in a dream world. For many, the initial experience of saving grace, of forgiveness, of sheer relief, of peace within our heart leaves us pinching ourselves to check it’s real and we’re not sleeping. Very often it can be the recognition by others, of what God has done, that brings it home to us. They say, “the Lord has done great things for them” and we respond, “Oh yes, the Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoice”

 2 – HARDSHIP – described in 4-6 – A Drudgery

The euphoria of ‘deliverance’ is more often than not tempered by discovering the true state of things (our hearts, our circumstances, for example) and may produce severe anxiety over the future.  Lyrics of a ‘Verve’ song are quite pertinent:  “It’s a BITTER-SWEET symphony, this life”.

The returning captives found:

  • Uncultivated Land – hard, dry and barren
  • Unpromising Conditions – unseasonable weather and a wilderness environment
  • Unwelcoming Neighbours – who were not exactly pleased to see their return

NONE of this was conducive for sowing seeds. There was the strong likelihood of crop failure – and a farmer’s precious seed (which is his future) all being wasted. He sowed with tears, with apprehension, with uncertainty … BUT


3 – HARVEST – described in 6 – A Doubtless

The contrasting ‘moods’ of previous verses take another twist on this winding journey in our final verse, with the ‘prophetic’ use of a powerful word: “DOUBTLESS” – the original Hebrew text suggests this word which is beautifully picked up by the translators of our Authorized Version. What fresh hope this word births – what new confidence it inspires – what a firm foundation for faith it offers – what outstanding encouragement – “DOUBTLESS”.

How descriptive of our journey

As people of God, ours is a faith journey within a community of faith – facing our hardships with perseverance, while trusting the Living Word and the Spirit of God, we work hard, we sow our seeds, we weep over the hardness of our own hearts, and of others, we commit ourselves to God, casting ourselves on His unfailing love. As the “DOUBTLESS” kicks in, we may grow in the certainty that our ‘toil’ is not in vain, and  that we will reach the moment of HARVEST. Having carried seeds, we will carry sheaves, too.

The fruit will be gathered in because of the favour of God, as clearly expressed in another Hebrew Psalm: “You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.  You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing. ” Psalm 65:9-13

What remarkable evidence of God’s providential care for the natural creation – watering, enriching, filling, drenching, leveling, softening, blessing and crowning. This being so, how much more does He care for us, described as His new creation in Christ.

REMEMBER THIS: God has not brought you out of captivity in order to fail, but in order to bless you and cause you to increase – DOUBTLESS.

So doubt less.


FOOTNOTE: These are notes of a ‘sermon’ I preached at King’s Baptist Church, Cleethorpes – on Sunday 28th January 2018