When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage
it seemed like a dream
then was our mouths filled with laughter
on our lips there were songs. (Psalm 126:1b-2a)
That verse from Psalm 126 must have really reflected the sentiments of the Jews when they first heard of the decree of Cyrus. At first they thought they were dreaming,and then when the reality hit them they started to shout, laugh, sing for joy… And that was probably when they began to think of Cyrus as their Savior, God’s Anointed.
The theme of rejoicing is continued in vv. 4-6 in a prayer. There are different interpretations for these lines as there are for verse 1b. The current NAB interpretation reflects a prayer for restored fortune that like a heavy downpour would fill up the dry bed of the Negheb (4). It is followed by a saying (or a song?) about sowing and reaping (5) that is then given an interpretation (6)
A new beginning is not always happy. After the laughter, one realizes the need to brace oneself up for work that is intended preserve the “graced-moment.”
Salvation history is not cyclic history as the Greeks knew it. Salvation history is about God’s future making itself present in contemporary events. It is a history that goes from new to newer and newest. It never repeats itself. An event may become paradigmatic for the understanding of a later event. But the “later” event will always have something that breaks out of the paradigm. Paul wrote that Old Testament history was written for present consolation. He was referring to the paradigmatic function of events as described in OT writings. When Christ came, the paradigms of the past were still applicable but up to a certain point. After Christ, events will have to be understood with an intelligence that He Himself provides to unlock a deeper layers of meaning in prophetic scripture.
Psalm 126 is read by the Church in terms of her own “exile”. She continues to dwell in a world as a foreigner. She sows the seed of the gospel in tears — especially in the places where she is hated: among the Christians of India, China, the Middle East … It is her prayer though that God would bless her with more members that would fill up with torrents the dried wadis of her “Negheb”, so that she can return rejoicing after the harvest.
Console your people Lord. Give it strength and the awareness that you are for them and with them. Touch the hearts of their persecutors and allow the persecuted and the suffering a foretaste of the joy and peace you reserve for those who love you.