Psalm 126:2

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 2. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. So full were they of joy that they could not contain themselves. They must express their joy and yet they could not find expression for it. Irrepressible mirth could do no other than laugh, for speech was far too dull a thing for it. The mercy was so unexpected, so amazing, so singular that they could not do less than laugh; and they laughed much, so that their mouths were full of it, and that because their hearts were full too. When at last the tongue could move articulately, it could not be content simply to talk, but it must needs sing; and sing heartily too, for it was full of singing. Doubtless the former pain added to the zest of the pleasure; the captivity threw a brighter colour into the emancipation. The people remembered this joy flood for years after, and here is the record of it turned into a song. Note the when and the then. God's when is our then. At the moment when he turns our captivity, the heart turns from its sorrow; when he fills us with grace we are filled with gratitude. We were made to be as them that dream, but we both laughed and sang in our sleep. We are wide awake now, and though we can scarcely realize the blessing, yet we rejoice in it exceedingly.

Then said they among the heathen, the Load hath done great things for them. The heathen heard the songs of Israel, and the better sort among them soon guessed the cause of their joy. Jehovah was known to be their God, and to him the other nations ascribed the emancipation of his people, reckoning it to be no small thing which the Lord had thus done; for those who carried away the nations had never in any other instance restored a people to their ancient dwelling place. These foreigners were no dreamers; though they were only lookers on, and not partakers in the surprising mercy, they plainly saw what had been done, and rightly ascribed it to the great Giver of all good. It is a blessed thing when saints set sinners talking about the lovingkindness of the Lord: and it is equally blessed when the saints who are hidden away in the world hear of what the Lord has done for his church, and themselves resolve to come out from their captivity and unite with the Lord's people. Ah, dear reader, Jehovah has indeed done marvellous things for his chosen, and these "great things" shall be themes for eternal praise among all intelligent creatures.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 2. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, etc. We must earnestly endeavour to learn this practice, or at the least to attain to some knowledge thereof; and we must raise up ourselves with this consideration -- that the gospel is nothing else but laughter and joy. This joy properly pertaineth to captives, that is, to those that feel the captivity of sin and death; to the fleshy and tender hearts, terrified with the feeling of the wrath and judgment of God. These are the disciples in whose hearts should be planted laughter and joy, and that by the authority of the Holy Ghost, which this verse setteth forth. This people was in Zion, and, after the outward show of the kingdom and priesthood, did mightily flourish; but if a man consider them according to the spirit, he shall see them to be in miserable captivity, and that their tongue is full of heaviness and mourning, because their heart is terrified with the sense of sin and death. This is Moses' tongue or Moses' mouth, full of wormwood and of the bitterness of death; wherewith he designs to kill none but those which are too lively and full of security. But they who feel their captivity shall have their mouths filled with laughter and joy: that is, redemption and deliverance from sin and death shall be preached unto them. This is the sense and meaning of the Holy Ghost, that the mouth of such shall be filled with laughter, that is, their mouth shall show forth nothing else but great gladness through the inestimable consolations of the gospel, with voices of triumph and victory by Christ, overcoming Satan, destroying death, and taking away sins. This was first spoken unto the Jews; for this laughter was first offered to that people, then having the promises. Now he turneth to the Gentiles, whom he calleth to the partaking of this laughter. --Martin Luther.

Verse 2. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, etc. It was thus in the valley of Elah, where Goliath fell, and Philistia fled. It was thus at Baal Perazim. It was thus when one morning, after many nights of gloom, Jerusalem arose at dawn of day, and found Sennacherib's thousands a camp of the dead. And it has all along been the manner of our God.

"The Lord has wrought mightily
In what he has done for us;
And we have been made glad."

Ever do this till conflict is over! Just as thou dost with the streams of the south, year by year, so do with us -- with all, with each. And we are confident thou wilt; we are sure that we make no vain boast when we sing this psalm as descriptive of the experience of all thy pilgrims and worshippers. --Andrew A. Bonar, in "Christ and his Church in the Book of Psalms", 1859.

Verse 2. Then was our mouth filled with laughter. They that were laughed at, now laugh, and a new song is put into their mouths. It was a laughter of joy in God, not scorn of their enemies. --Matthew Henry.

Verse 2. Mouth, tongue. Lorinus, the Jesuit, hath observed that the Psalmist nominates the mouth and tongue in the singular, not mouths and tongues in the plural; because all the faithful and the whole congregation of the Jews univoce, with one voice, with one consent, and, as it were, with one mouth, did praise and glorify the Lord. --John Hume.

Verse 2. And our tongue with singing. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks; and if the heart be glad the tongue is glib. Joy cannot be suppressed in the heart, but it must be expressed with the tongue. --John Hume.

Verse 2. Then said they among the heathen. And what is it they said? It is to the purpose. In this (as in many others) the heathens' saying cannot be mended. This they say:

  1. That they were no quotidian, or common things; but "great".
  2. Then, these great things they ascribe not to chance; that they happened not, but were "done".
  3. Then, "done" by God himself: they see God in them.
  4. Then, not done by God at random, without any particular aim; but purposely done for them.
  5. And yet, there is more in magnificavit facere (if we look well). For, magna fecit would have served all this; but in saying "magnificavit facere", they say magnifecit illos, ut magna faceret pro illis. He magnified them, or set greatly by them, tor whom he would bring to pass so great a work. This said they among the "heathen."

And it is pity the "heathen" said it, and that the Jew's themselves spake not these words first. But now, finding the "heathen" so saying; and finding it was all true that they said, they must needs find themselves bound to say at least as much; and more they could not say; for more cannot be said. So much then, and no less than they. And this addeth a degree to the dicebant, -- that the sound of it was so great among the heathen that it made an echo even in Jewry itself. -- Lancelot Andrews.

Verse 2. The Lord hath done great things. He multiplied to do great things; so the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic versions render it; and the history of this deliverance makes it good. --Thomas Hodges, in a Sermon entitled "Sion's Hallelujah", 1660.

Verse 2-3. There is this great difference between the praise which the heathen are forced to give to God, and that which the Lord's people heartily offer unto him: the one doth speak as having no interest nor share in the mercy; the other do speak as they to whom the mercy is intended, and wherein they have their portion with others: He hath done great things for them, say the heathen: but, he hath done great things for us, say the Lord's people. --David Dickson, 1583-1662.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 2. Saintly laughter. What creates it, and how it is justified.

Verse 2. Recipe for holy laughter. --

  1. Lie in prison a few weeks.
  2. Hear the Lord turning the key.
  3. Follow him into the high road.
  4. Your sky will burst with sunshine, and your heart with song and laughter.
  5. If this recipe is thought too expensive, try keeping in the high road. --W. B. H.

Verse 2-3.

  1. Reports of God's doings.
  2. Experience of God's doings.

Verse 2-3.

  1. The Lord does great things for his people.
  2. These great things command the attention of the world.
  3. They inspire the joyful devotion of the saints. --W. H. J. P.