Psalm 126:6
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
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(6) The original is very expressive, by the idiom of infinitive combined with finite verb.

“He shall walk, and walk and weep,

Bearing the handful of seed:

He shall come, and come with singing,

Bearing his sheaves,”

where we must certainly see an extension and not a mere repetition of the former figure, for the very form of the expression suggests the long patient labour of the sower, and the reward which patience and perseverance always bring—a harvest in proportion to the toil and trouble of seed-time. The words of the prophet Haggai (Haggai 1:10-11; Haggai 2:19), contemporary with the Return, should be compared. The word rendered “precious” in the Authorised Version may be correctly represented by “handful.” Its meaning is “drawing;” and from Amos 9:13 (see margin) we see that the sower was called “the drawer of seed,” no doubt from the hand being repeatedly drawn out for the cast from the bag or basket containing the seed. Others render “seed-basket” here. The contrast so beautifully painted in this verse was certainly realised when “the priests and Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of the house of God with joy” (Ezra 6:16; comp. Ezra 6:22; Nehemiah 12:42).

126:4-6 The beginnings of mercies encourage us to pray for the completion of them. And while we are in this world there will be matter for prayer, even when we are most furnished with matter for praise. Suffering saints are often in tears; they share the calamities of human life, and commonly have a greater share than others. But they sow in tears; they do the duty of an afflicted state. Weeping must not hinder sowing; we must get good from times of affliction. And they that sow, in the tears of godly sorrow, to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting; and that will be a joyful harvest indeed. Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be for ever comforted. When we mourn for our sins, or suffer for Christ's sake, we are sowing in tears, to reap in joy. And remember that God is not mocked; for whatever a man soweth that shall he reap, Ga 6:7-9. Here, O disciple of Jesus, behold an emblem of thy present labour and future reward; the day is coming when thou shalt reap in joy, plentiful shall be thy harvest, and great shall be thy joy in the Lord.He that goeth forth and weepeth - He that goes forth weeping - still an allusion to the farmer. He is seen moving slowly and sadly over the plowed ground, burdened with his task, an in tears.

Bearing precious seed - Margin, "seed-basket." Literally, "bearing the drawing out of seed;" perhaps the seed as drawn out of his bag; or, as scattered or sown regularly in furrows, so that it seems to be drawn out in regular lines over the fields.

Shall doubtless come again - Shall come to this sown field again in the time of harvest. He will visit it with other feelings than those which he now has.

With rejoicing ... - Then his tears will be turned to joy. Then the rich harvest will wave before him. Then he will thrust in his sickle and reap. Then he will gather the golden grain, and the wain will groan under the burden, and the sheaves will be carried forth with songs of joy. He will be abundantly rewarded for all his toil; he will see the fruit of his labors; he will be filled with joy. The design of this illustration was, undoubtedly, to cheer the hearts of the exiles in their long and dangerous journey to their native land; it has, however, a wider and more universal application, as being suited to encourage all in their endeavors to secure their own salvation, and to do good in the world - for the effort is often attended with sacrifice, toil, and tears. The joy of heaven will be more than a compensation for all this. The following remarks by Dr. Thomson (Land and the Book, vol. i., pp. 118, 119) will furnish an illustration of the meaning of this passage: "I never saw people sowing in tears exactly, but have often known them to do it in fear and distress sufficient to draw them from any eye. In seasons of great scarcity, the poor peasants part in sorrow with every measure of precious seed cast into the ground. It is like taking bread out of the mouths of their children; and in such times many bitter tears are actually shed over it. The distress is frequently so great that government is obliged to furnish seed, or none would be sown. Ibrahim Pasha did this more than once within my remembrance, copying the example, perhaps, of his great predecessor in Egypt when the seven years' famine was ended. The thoughts of this psalm may likewise have been suggested by the extreme danger which frequently attends the farmer in his plowing and sowing.

The calamity which fell upon the farmers of Job when the oxen were plowing, and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them away, and slew the servants with the edge of the sword Job 1:14-15, is often repeated in our day. To understand this, you must remember what I just told you about the situation of the arable lands in the open country; and here again we meet that verbal accuracy: the sower goes forth - that is, from the village. The people of Ibel and Khiem, in Merj ‛Aiyun, for example, have their best grain-growing fields down in the ‛Ard Huleh, six or eight miles from their homes, and just that much nearer the lawless border of the desert. When the country is disturbed, or the government weak, they cannot sow these lands except at the risk of their lives. Indeed, they always go forth in large companies, and completely armed, ready to drop the plow and seize the musket at a moment's warning; and yet, with all this care, many sad and fatal calamities overtake the people who must thus sow in tears.

And still another origin may be found for the thoughts of the psalm in the extreme difficulty of the work itself in many places. The soil is rocky, impracticable, overgrown with sharp thorns; and it costs much painful toil to break up and gather out the rocks, cut and burn the briers, and to subdue the stubborn soil, especially with their feeble oxen and insignificant plows. Join all these together, and the sentiment is very forcibly brought out, that he who labors hard, in cold and in rain, in fear and danger, in poverty and in want, casting his precious seed in the ground, will surely come again, at harvest-time, with rejoicing, and bearing his sheaves with him."

6. He that goeth forth—literally, better, "He goes—he comes, he comes," &c. The repetition implies there is no end of weeping here, as there shall be no end of joy hereafter (Isa 35:10).

precious seed—rather, seed to be drawn from the seed box for sowing; literally, "seed-draught." Compare on this Psalm, Jer 31:9, &c.

He that goeth forth; the husbandman that goeth out into his field, and walketh hither and thither to scatter his seed, as the manner is.

Weepeth, for fear of the loss of his seed, and of a bad harvest.

Precious seed; seed-corn when it is scarce and dear. Or, the basket of seed as it is rendered in our margin, as also by the Chaldee paraphrast, and some ethers.

Shall doubtless come, Heb. coming shall come; which manner of expression may note either the certainty of the thing, or the frequency and customariness of it. This verse is only an amplification of the former.

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed,.... Which he sows in tears. This is but a repetition and confirmation of what is before expressed in different words; and may be applied, as to a praying saint, so to a faithful preacher of the word. The word is the precious seed which he bears, which he takes out of the granaries of the Scriptures; and carries from place to place, and scatters and sows, Luke 8:11; compared to seed, because of its meanness in the eyes of those that know it not; because of its generative virtue and increase, which it has from God, and which, unless sown in the earth, produces no fruit: and it is called "precious seed", because either bought at a great price, when grain is dear; or because it usually is the choicest wheat that is the sowing seed; and so may denote the preciousness and value of the Gospel, dispensed by Christ's faithful ministers, which is called a sowing of spiritual things, 1 Corinthians 9:11; which should be done plentifully and constantly, and with the same sort of seed or doctrine, and which requires art and skill; and is often performed weeping or with tears, because of their own insufficiency, through fear of success, and through want of it; and because of the badness of the ground, the hardness of men's hearts they have to do with. The allusion seems to be to a poor husbandman, that has got but little seed to sow, and this bought at a dear price; and which he buries under the clods, and fears it will rise no more; and weeps as he sows, because of the badness of the weather, or of the soil, doubting of success. Aben Ezra, by the words rendered "precious seed", or, as they may be, "a draught of seed" (r), understands the vessel in which the sower carries his seed, the seed basket, from whence he draws and takes out the seed, and scatters it; see Amos 9:13; so the Targum,

"bearing a tray of sowing corn;''

shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him; the seed he has been to and fro in sowing springs up under a divine blessing; and, beyond his expectation and fears, produces a large and plentiful crop; which he reaps, and returns home, not with his arms full of sheaves only, but with his cart laden with them: so a faithful minister, sooner or later, is blessed with converts, who will be his joy and crown of rejoicing another day: see John 4:35, 1 Thessalonians 2:19.

(r) "tractionem seminis", Montanus, Piscator, Gejerus.

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing {e} precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

(e) That is, seed which was scarce and dear: meaning, that they who trusted in God's promise to return had their desire.

6. Though one goeth weeping on his way, when he carrieth forth the seed to sow,

He shall surely come with shouts of joy, when he carrieth home his sheaves.

The subject in both clauses may most naturally though not necessarily be taken to be the same: at any rate the thought that “one soweth and another reapeth” (John 4:36; John 4:38) is not prominent here.

precious seed] This has been explained to mean ‘costly’ on account of the scarcity of corn, with reference to the bad seasons from which the community suffered after the Return (Haggai 1:10 f.; Psalm 85:12); but the rendering cannot be maintained. The cognate verb in Amos 9:13 means to ‘draw out’ or ‘trail’ the seed: and the substantive here means the seed which is trailed or cast into the ground, seed for sowing.

Verse 6. - He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed; literally, going he goes and weeping; i.e. weeping every step as he goes - "bearing the draught of seed," i.e. the seed which he has drawn forth from his bag, and is about to scatter on the earth. Thus it is that he "goes forth." How differently does he return! He shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him; literally, coming he comes with a cry of joy, bearing with him his sheaves. He obtains in the end an ample return for all his labors.

Psalm 126:6But still the work so mightily and graciously begun is not completed. Those who up to the present time have returned, out of whose heart this Psalm is, as it were, composed, are only like a small vanguard in relation to the whole nation. Instead of שׁבותנו the Kerמ here reads שׁביתנוּ, from שׁבית, Numbers 21:29, after the form בכית in Genesis 50:4. As we read elsewhere that Jerusalem yearns after her children, and Jahve solemnly assures her, "thou shalt put them all on as jewels and gird thyself like a bride" (Isaiah 49:18), so here the poet proceeds from the idea that the holy land yearns after an abundant, reanimating influx of population, as the Negeb (i.e., the Judaean south country, Genesis 20:1, and in general the south country lying towards the desert of Sinai) thirsts for the rain-water streams, which disappear in the summer season and regularly return in the winter season. Concerning אפיק, "a water-holding channel," vid., on Psalm 18:16. If we translate converte captivitatem nostram (as Jerome does, following the lxx), we shall not know what to do with the figure, whereas in connection with the rendering reduc captivos nostros it is just as beautifully adapted to the object as to the governing verb. If we have rightly referred negeb not to the land of the Exile but to the Land of Promise, whose appearance at this time is still so unlike the promise, we shall now also understand by those who sow in tears not the exiles, but those who have already returned home, who are again sowing the old soil of their native land, and that with tears, because the ground is so parched that there is little hope of the seed springing up. But this tearful sowing will be followed by a joyful harvest. One is reminded here of the drought and failure of the crops with which the new colony was visited in the time of Haggai, and of the coming blessing promised by the prophet with a view to the work of the building of the Temple being vigorously carried forward. Here, however, the tearful sowing is only an emblem of the new foundation-laying, which really took place not without many tears (Ezra 3:12), amidst sorrowful and depressed circumstances; but in its general sense the language of the Psalm coincides with the language of the Preacher on the Mount, Matthew 5:4 : Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. The subject to Psalm 126:6 is the husbandman, and without a figure, every member of the ecclesia pressa. The gerundial construction in Psalm 126:6 (as in 2 Samuel 3:16; Jeremiah 50:4, cf. the more Indo-Germanic style of expression in 2 Samuel 15:30) depicts the continual passing along, here the going to and fro of the sorrowfully pensive man; and Psalm 126:6 the undoubted coming and sure appearing of him who is highly blessed beyond expectation. The former bears משׁך הזּרע, the seed-draught, i.e., the handful of seed taken from the rest for casting out (for משׁך הזּרע in Amos 9:13 signifies to cast forth the seed along the furrows); the latter his sheaves, the produce (תּבוּאה), such as puts him to the blush, of his, as it appeared to him, forlorn sowing. As by the sowing we are to understand everything that each individual contributes towards the building up of the kingdom of God, so by the sheaves, the wholesome fruit which, by God bestowing His blessing upon it beyond our prayer and comprehension, springs up from it.
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