Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 126

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Read Psalm 126

A song of ascents.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dreamed.
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, 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.

Editor's Note

Psalms 120-134 are known as the “Psalms of Ascent” or “Pilgrim Songs.” Every year as the Jews traveled uphill towards the city of Jerusalem to participate in one of the three Jewish festivals, these are the songs they would sing. They became a staple of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem back then and now they serve as a helpful template for us as we worship today.

Go Deeper

The title given to this psalmZion’s Restoration, A Pilgrim Song/A Song of Ascentsprovides the backdrop for the passage. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a pilgrim as “a person who travels to a holy place for religious reasons.” In this context, the sacred place was Jerusalem, often referred to as Zion, as Jews were most likely returning from Babylonian captivity. It seemed they were living in a dream after 70 years of exile; joy, laughter, and songs radiated from them as they journeyed back to their homeland, giving credit to the Lord who had done great things for them (v. 2-3). As the returning exiles caught sight of Mount Zion, they were filled with gratitude to be back in their own land. The surrounding nations were familiar with their captivity and took notice, and they looked in awe of God who had fulfilled His word and brought His people back.

The closer they drew to Jerusalem, the more apparent it became that their homeland was in desperate need of restoration. Think of returning to a childhood home after many years and finding a dilapidated house with overgrown landscape, but on a much larger scale. The Israelites looked upon their city and realized there was much work to be done. Life is often like a set of parallel railroad tracks, as joy and sadness can coexist. One does not negate the other. What a gamut of emotions the people must have experienced as described in verse 5: “Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.” The people acknowledged that God had done an amazing work in the past, and begged and trusted Him to do it again.  

One of God’s past works they surely recalled is found in Joshua 4. This speaks of the memorial stones the Jews took from the middle of the Jordan River after God parted the waters during the spring flood stage and commanded them to cross over, requiring great faith from the people. Joshua knew the importance of remembering: “When your children ask their fathers in the futurewhat is the meaning of these stonestell your children Israel crossed over on dry ground. This is so all the people of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and that you may always fear the Lord your God” (Joshua 4:22, 24).


  1. Are you in a place of captivity right now, desperate for release? Are you daily trusting God to use this time to refine and shape you for His purposes?
  2. If you are in a place of freedom, have you shared your story with fellow believers to encourage them on their journeys? Share this with your Life Group this week.
  3. What are your “stones of remembrance” where you have seen the hand of God move mightily? Write them down for future reference.

Listen Here

The lyrics of this song resonate with the message of Psalm 126. Be encouraged to trust in the faithfulness of our God who moved heaven and earth to save us.

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2 thoughts on “Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 126”

  1. Today’s Psalm reminds me of this simple quote. In
    •happy moments PRAISE God
    •difficult moments SEEK God
    •quiet moments WORSHIP God
    •painful moments TRUST God
    •every moment THANK God

  2. As I am reading this today I am thinking and praying for a friend whom I went to school with, she has kidney cancer and it is not slowing down. BUT GOD has done miracles all along her path and she is praising Him with joy unspeakable even during what now seems to be a dark turn (according to the world). She is not giving up nor is her family but if she is not long for this world she is happy to go be with Jesus. Finding joy in our sorrow. Jesus showed us how. His greatest joy, His Father, was also with obedience His greatest sorrow, going to the cross. “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. 21 “Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. John 16:20-21 NASB. We must fix our eyes on Jesus and know that joy comes in the morning. His coming will be joy unspeakable.

    God thank You for joy. Thank You for my friend Heather today in these minutes, God surround her and her family with Your peace, love and joy that comes from knowing You. God she has an amazing story that she gives You glory and honor for. Thank You for continuing to heal her body. God thank You for knowing that sorrow is a part of my life but that Your joy is running right along side. Thank You for love goggles to see Your people, Your words to fill my mouth, ears to hear Your voice, and love to cover all. Thank You for all the miracles You perform daily in my life in Jesus name amen.

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