On November 9, 1989, the world was astonished by the news of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The wall that had divided Berlin, Germany, was coming down and the city that had been divided for twenty-eight years would be united again. Though the epicenter of joy was Germany, an onlooking world shared in the excitement. Something great had taken place!
When Israel returned to her homeland in 538 bc after being exiled for almost seventy years, it was also momentous. Psalm 126 begins with an over-the-shoulder look at that joy-filled time in the history of Israel. The experience was marked by laughter, joyful singing, and international recognition that God had done great things for His people (v. 2). And what was the response of the recipients of His rescuing mercy? Great things from God prompted great gladness (v. 3). Furthermore, His works in the past became the basis for fresh prayers for the present and bright hope for the future (vv. 4–6).
You and I need not look far in our own experiences for examples of great things from God, especially if we believe in God through His Son, Jesus. Nineteenth-century hymn writer Fanny Crosby captured this sentiment when she wrote, “Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done, and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son.” Yes, to God be the glory, great things He has done!
What great things have you experienced from the hand of God? How does reflecting on these increase your trust and hope?
Psalm 126 is one of the songs of ascent, a title given to fifteen of the psalms (120–134). These psalms are also known as pilgrim songs and were most likely sung by Jewish worshipers as they ascended the road to the temple in Jerusalem to attend the three required festivals or feasts (Passover, or Festival of Unleavened Bread; Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks; and Tabernacles, also known as Tents or Booths). We read about this requirement in Deuteronomy 16:16. Other scholars believe these songs were sung by the Levite singers as they ascended the steps to minister at the temple. Psalm 126 calls worshipers to rejoice as they remember how God “restored the fortunes of Zion” (v. 1), or Jerusalem, most likely when the people returned from captivity in Babylon during Ezra’s time.