Psalm 126:2
Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Singing.—As frequently of the restoration in Isaiah—42:11, 44:23, 54:1, &c.

Hath done.—See margin, and comp. Joel 2:21.

Psalm 126:2. Then was our mouth filled with laughter — We thought ourselves in a new world, and the surprise of it put us into such an ecstasy and transport of joy, that we could scarcely contain ourselves within the bounds of decency in the expressions of it; and our mouth with singing — We gave vent to our joy, by singing hymns and songs of praise to God, and thus gave notice to all about us, what wonders God had wrought for us. Then said they among the heathen — Who had observed our calamity and triumphed in it, Jeremiah 22:8-9; Psalm 137:7. The Lord Jehovah, the God of Israel, hath done great things for them — This truly is Jehovah’s work, who hath magnified his power in the strange deliverance of this nation. Well might they wonder, that a heathen emperor should, of his own mere motion, show so much kindness to a people so hated and despised as the Jews were.

126:1-3 It is good to observe how God's deliverances of the church are for us, that we may rejoice in them. And how ought redemption from the wrath to come, from the power of sin and of Satan, to be valued! The sinner convinced of his guilt and danger, when by looking to a crucified Saviour he receives peace to his conscience, and power to break off his sins, often can scarcely believe that the prospect which opens to him is a reality.Then was our mouth filled with laughter - Then were we happy; completely happy. See Job 8:21.

And our tongue with singing - We expressed our joy in songs - the natural expression of joy. Young converts - those "turned" from sin to God - sing. Their feelings find expression in the songs of Zion. This is natural; this is proper; this will occur when sinners are converted. An assemblage of young converts is always a happy assemblage; a place where there is a "revival" of religion is always a happy place - full of songs and singing.

Then said they among the heathen - The nations; the people among whom they dwelt.

The Lord hath done great things for them - In causing their return to their own land; in ordering the arrangements for it; in bringing their captivity to an end; in securing such interposition from the civil rulers as to facilitate their return. This would indicate that the surrounding people had not an unfriendly feeling toward them, but that they pitied them in exile, and were disposed to acknowledge the hand of God in what was done. Their deliverance, in the circumstances, was such as evidently to have been the work of God. This will agree well with the account of the return of the exiles from Babylon, and with all that had been done for them by Cyrus. Compare Ezra 1:1-4.

PSALM 126

Ps 126:1-6. To praise for God's favor to His people is added a prayer for its continued manifestation.

1-3. When the Lord, &c.—The joy of those returned from Babylon was ecstatic, and elicited the admiration even of the heathen, as illustrating God's great power and goodness.

turned again the captivity—that is, restored from it (Job 39:12; Ps 14:7; Pr 12:14). Hengstenberg translates: "When the Lord turned Himself to the turning of Zion" (see Margin), God returns to His people when they return to Him (De 30:2, 3).

They did and well might wonder at it, that a heathen emperor should of his own mere motion show so much kindness to so hateful and despicable a people as the Jews were.

Then was our mouth filled with laughter,.... Who before mourned, and hung their harps on the willows, and could not sing the Lord's song in a strange land; but now, as their hearts were filled, with joy, this was externally and visibly seen in their countenances, and expressed with their mouths and by outward gestures; it was so great, they could not contain it, to which respect is had, Isaiah 35:10. It may be rendered, "then shall our mouth be filled with laughter" (q); that is, when we awake, says Arama; or rather when the captivity is returned, either in a literal or in a spiritual sense, both being matter of great joy: the Midrash says, this will be in the world to come, and not in this;

and our tongue with singing; the praises of God, and the songs of Zion;

then said they among the Heathen, the Lord hath done great things for them; it was taken notice of by the Chaldeans, among whom they had been captives, and by all the nations round about: and it was wonderful to them, that Cyrus, an Heathen prince, of his own motion and will, should at once, and without any price or reward, let them go, and send them into their own country to rebuild their temple; and with them the vessels of the Lord's house, that had been taken away by the king of Babylon; and order men to help them, with gold and silver, and goods and cattle, Ezra 1:1. Likewise the conversion of the Jews, and the restoration of them to their own and in the latter day, will be observed by the Gentiles with wonder, and as the work of God, Ezekiel 36:35.

(q) "replebitur", Musculus, Gejerus; "implebitur", Schmidt; so the Targum, Syr. Arab.

Then was our mouth {b} filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the {c} heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.

(b) He shows how the godly should rejoice when God gathers his Church or delivers it.

(c) If the infidels confess God's wonderful work, the faithful can never show themselves sufficiently thankful.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. Then was our mouth filled with laughter] Cp. Job 8:21.

singing] Or, shouts of joy, a word characteristic of the second Isaiah (Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 51:11; Isaiah 54:1; Isaiah 55:12). The Psalms of the Return (93–100) were the expression of this joy.

then said they among the nations] Even heathen nations recognised the marvel of Israel’s deliverance. Cf. Isaiah 52:10; Psalm 98:2, &c.

hath done great things for them] Cp. Joel 2:21, and with the preceding line cp. Joel 2:17.

Verse 2. - Then was our mouth filled with laughter. The Orientals weep when they are disappointed, and, when they are pleased, laugh (Genesis 21:6; Job 8:21) and shout for joy (Herod., 8:99). And our tongue with singing; rather, with a cry of joy. Then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them; literally, hath magnified to do with them. The heathen, among whom the Israelites had dwelt, marveled at their deliverance. It was an event without a parallel. Psalm 126:2When passages like Isaiah 1:9; Genesis 47:25, or others where והיינו is perf. consec., are appealed to in order to prove that היינוּ כּחלמים may signify erimus quasi somniantes, they are instances that are different in point of syntax. Any other rendering than that of the lxx is here impossible, viz.: Ἐν τῷ ἐπιστρέψαι κύριον τὴν αἰχμαλωσίαν Σιὼν ἐγενήθημεν ὡς παρακεκλημένοι (כּנחמים? - Jerome correctly, quasi somniantes). It is, however, just as erroneous when Jerome goes on to render: tunc implebitur risu os nostrum; for it is true the future after אז has a future signification in passages where the context relates to matters of future history, as in Psalm 96:12; Zephaniah 3:9, but it always has the signification of the imperfect after the key-note of the historical past has once been struck, Exodus 15:1; Joshua 8:30; Joshua 10:12; 1 Kings 11:7; 1 Kings 16:21; 2 Kings 15:16; Job 38:21; it is therefore, tunc implebatur. It is the exiles at home again upon the soil of their fatherland who here cast back a glance into the happy time when their destiny suddenly took another turn, by the God of Israel disposing the heart of the conqueror of Babylon to set them at liberty, and to send them to their native land in an honourable manner. שׁיבת is not equivalent to שׁבית, nor is there any necessity to read it thus (Olshausen, Bצttcher, and Hupfeld). שׁיבה (from שׁוּב, like בּיאה, קימה) signifies the return, and then those returning; it is, certainly, an innovation of this very late poet. When Jahve brought home the homeward-bound ones of Zion - the poet means to say - we were as dreamers. Does he mean by this that the long seventy years' term of affliction lay behind us like a vanished dream (Joseph Kimchi), or that the redemption that broke upon us so suddenly seemed to us at first not to be a reality but a beautiful dream? The tenor of the language favours the latter: as those not really passing through such circumstances, but only dreaming. Then - the poet goes on to say - our mouth was filled with laughter (Job 8:21) and our tongue with a shout of joy, inasmuch, namely, as the impression of the good fortune which contrasted so strongly with our trouble hitherto, compelled us to open our mouth wide in order that our joy might break forth in a full stream, and our jubilant mood impelled our tongue to utter shouts of joy, which knew no limit because of the inexhaustible matter of our rejoicing. And how awe-inspiring was Israel's position at that time among the peoples! and what astonishment the marvellous change of Israel's lot produced upon them! Even the heathen confessed that it was Jahve's work, and that He had done great things for them (Joel 2:20., 1 Samuel 12:24) - the glorious predictions of Isaiah, as in Psalm 45:14; Psalm 52:10, and elsewhere, were being fulfilled. The church on its part seals that confession coming from the mouth of the heathen. This it is that made them so joyful, that God had acknowledged them by such a mighty deed.
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