Love Your Neighbor (Psalm 126)

(5 Minute Read)

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.

This is one of the traveling songs that Israel sang as they returned from exile—and that they then sang every year as they made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They sang to remember the deliverance that God had achieved for them, beyond their wildest dreams. But Israel never stayed  independent for very long. They lived perpetually under the thumb of another nation. Even when they were physically at home, they were not free. So the second half of this song calls for God to restore them again. They pray that they would not return home empty-handed, that God would use their sorrow and suffering to bring forth a harvest of joy. This is the prayer and promise that Jesus ultimately fulfills, as Zechariah prays at the beginning of Luke’s gospel:

“[God] has raised up a mighty savior for us
    in the house of his servant David,
 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
    that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
    and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
    to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
    before him all our days."

When we pray Psalm 126, we celebrate this deliverance and pray for it to be made real in the lives of those who suffer in oppression and exile. Pray for the displaced strangers of our world:

  • for refugees who have been forced from their home by war and oppression
  • for the homeless who live in a different daily reality
  • for the mentally ill who are strangers to their loved ones and even within their own minds
  • for the church-less who have walked away from, been hurt by, or never known the community of believers

Pray that their sowing in sorrow would spring up to a harvest of joy. Pray that Christ and his Church would welcome and care for them, giving them a home and family.

Questions or discussion? Click here to comment.

Tomorrow on the Daily Connection: Who Is My Neighbor (Operation Christmas Child)

About the Author

Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC