Those returned out of captivity are to be thankful. (1-3) Those yet in captivity are encouraged. (4-6)
Verses 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.
Verses 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.
Psalms 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 , Psalms 14:7 , Proverbs 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 ( Deuteronomy 30:2 Deuteronomy 30:3 ).
4. All did not return at once; hence the prayer for repeated favors.
as the streams in the south--or, the torrents in the desert south of Judea, dependent on rain ( Joshua 15:9 ), reappearing after dry seasons (compare Job 6:15 , Psalms 68:9 ). The point of comparison is joy at the reappearing of what has been so painfully missed.
5, 6. As in husbandry the sower may cast his seed in a dry and parched soil with desponding fears, so those shall reap abundant fruit who toil in tears with the prayer of faith. (Compare the history, Ezra 6:16 Ezra 6:22 ).
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 ( Isaiah 35:10 ).
precious seed--rather, seed to be drawn from the seed box for sowing; literally, "seed-draught." Compare on this Psalm, Jeremiah 31:9 , &c.