They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Joy.—Rather, singing, as in Psalm 126:2. The harvest-home songs are contrasted with the anxiety of the seed-time. Probably the poet found the proverbial saying already current, but he has touched it with the consecrating hand till it has become only less precious than the saying of Divine lips, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”Psalm 126:5-6. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy — This seems to refer to the foregoing prayer; as if he had said, And this thou wilt do in thy good time: thou wilt give them, as thou hast given us, a joyful return after so sad a time of captivity. The argument is taken from the common course of God’s providence toward men of all nations, to whom he affords vicissitudes of sorrow and comfort, and particularly toward husbandmen, who till their land, and sow their seed, not only with toil, and the sweat of their brows, but, it may be, also with care, fear, and sorrow, doubtful about the success of their labours, and, perhaps, wanting the corn they sow to make bread for their families. They commit it, however, to the ground, where for a time it lies dead and buried. “A dark and dreary winter succeeds, and all seems to be lost. But, at the return of spring, universal nature revives, and the once desolate fields are covered with corn, which, when matured by the sun’s heat, the cheerful reapers cut down, and it is brought home with triumphant shouts.” Thus the released Jewish captives had sorrow, and cause of mourning, on account of “the fatigue of travelling from Babylon into Judea; the melancholy prospect of a long depopulated country and ruined city; the toil necessary to be undergone before the former could be again brought into order, and the latter rebuilt; these considerations could not but allay their joy, and even draw many tears from their eyes:” but “they are here comforted with a gracious promise, that God would give a blessing to the labours of their hands, and crown them with success, so that they should once more see Jerusalem in prosperity, and behold in Zion the beauty of holiness.” “Here, O disciple of Jesus, behold an emblem of thy present labour, and thy future reward. Thou sowest, perhaps, in tears; thou dost thy duty amid persecution and affliction, sickness, pain, and sorrow; thou labourest in the church, and no account is made of thy labours; no profit seems likely to arise from them. Nay, thou must thyself drop into the dust of death, and all the storms of that winter must pass over thee, until thy form shall be perished, and thou shalt see corruption. Yet the day is coming when thou shalt reap in joy; and plentiful shall be thy harvest.” — Horne. Isaiah 9:3. Psalm 126:4, taken from the common course of God’s providence towards men of all nations, to whom he affords vicissitudes of sorrow and comfort; and particularly towards husbandmen, who though ofttimes they sow their seed-corn with care, and fear, and sorrow, yet afterwards for the most part meet with a joyful harvest. And therefore we hope thou wilt not deny this favour to thine own people. And as thou hast in some good measure granted it to us, so we pray thee grant it to our brethren, who are yet exercised with hard labours and griefs, that they and we together may at last obtain that blessed and full harvest which we still pray and hope for. Hosea 10:12; which is often attended with tears and weeping; the issue of them is not always seen soon: these, like seed, lie buried under the clods, but take effect and will rise up in due time: saints should wait patiently for a return of them, as the husbandman for the fruits of the earth; in due time they will produce a large crop of blessings, a plentiful harvest, which the praying saint will reap with joy; as those that prayed and waited for the redemption in Jerusalem; and as those that pray for the latter day glory, the conversion of the Jews, the fulness of the Gentiles, and the destruction of antichrist; the souls under the altar have been sowing in tears, but before long they will reap in joy, Revelation 6:9. It may be applied to the state and condition of saints in common in this life; now is their sowing time, and careful they should be that they sow not to the flesh, but to the spirit: and a sorrowful time it is, on account of inward corruptions, Satan's temptations, divine desertions, and the imperfection of their services; but before long they will reap life everlasting, reap in joy, and be in the fulness of it; now they weep, then they shall rejoice; now they mourn, then they shall be comforted. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)5. The efforts of the returned exiles to re-establish the nation had been carried on in the midst of hindrances and disappointments, anxieties and fears; but the Psalmist cannot doubt that they will in due time bear fruit. “So is it ever in God’s kingdom. Precisely those undertakings, which at first seemed hopeless and were begun under pressing troubles, end in achieving the greatest good” (Von Gerlach, quoted by Kay). The tears shed at the Foundation of the Second Temple (Ezra 3:12), and the rejoicings at its completion (Ezra 6:16; Ezra 6:22), and at the Dedication of the Walls (Nehemiah 12:27; Nehemiah 12:43) were only illustrations of the general truth. Cp. Matthew 5:4.
in joy] With shouts of joy, the same word as that for singing in Psalm 126:2. There is naturally an allusion to the rejoicings of harvest (Isaiah 9:3 &c.).Verse 5. - They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Then we, who are now "sowing in tears" (Ezra 3:12, 13; Neb. 1:4), re-establishing Israel in its own land amid grief and pain and distress, shall "reap in joy," see the fruit of our exertions, and rejoice thereat. Psalm 125:1. and of the confident hope in Psalm 125:3, the petition now arises that Jahve would speedily bestow the earnestly desired blessing of freedom upon the faithful ones, and on the other hand remove the cowardly lit. those afraid to confess God and those who have fellowship with apostasy, together with the declared wicked ones, out of the way. For such is the meaning of Psalm 125:4. טובים (in Proverbs alternating with the "righteous," Proverbs 2:20, the opposite being the "wicked," רשׁעים, Proverbs 14:19) are here those who truly believe and rightly act in accordance with the good will of God,
(Note: The Midrash here calls to mind a Talmudic riddle: There came a good one (Moses, Exodus 2:2) and received a good thing (the Tra, Proverbs 4:2) from the good One (God, Psalm 145:9) for the good ones (Israel, Psalm 125:4).)
or, as the parallel member of the verse explains (where לישׁרים did not require the article on account of the addition), those who in the bottom of their heart are uprightly disposed, as God desires to have it. The poet supplicates good for them, viz., preservation against denying God and deliverance out of slavery; for those, on the contrary, who bend (הטּה) their crooked paths, i.e., turn aside their paths in a crooked direction from the right way (עקלקלּותם, cf. Judges 5:6, no less than in Amos 2:7; Proverbs 17:23, an accusative of the object, which is more natural than that it is the accusative of the direction, after Numbers 22:23 extrem., cf. Job 23:11; Isaiah 30:11) - for these he wishes that Jahve would clear them away (הוליך like Arab. ahlk, perire facere equals perdere) together with the workers of evil, i.e., the open, manifest sinners, to whom these lukewarm and sly, false and equivocal ones are in no way inferior as a source of danger to the church. lxx correctly: τοὺς δὲ ἐκκλίνοντας εἰς τάς στραγγαλιὰς (Aquila διαπλοκάς, Symmachus σκολιότητας, Theodotion διεστραμμένα) ἀπάξει κύριος μετὰ κ. τ. λ.. Finally, the poet, stretching out his hand over Israel as if pronouncing the benediction of the priest, gathers up all his hopes, prayers, and wishes into the one prayer: "Peace be upon Israel." He means "the Israel of God," Galatians 6:16. Upon this Israel he calls down peace from above. Peace is the end of tyranny, hostility, dismemberment, unrest, and terror; peace is freedom and harmony and unity and security and blessedness.
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