“When Yahweh brought Zion’s captives home, at first it seemed like a dream. Then our mouths filled with laughter and our lips with song. Even the pagans started talking about the marvels Yahweh had done for us! What marvels indeed he did for us, and how overjoyed we were!” (Psalm 126:1-3 JB)
The occasion of this outburst of joyous memory is found in the first chapter of Ezra where we are told that the Lord “stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia” to allow the Jewish people to return to their homeland after seventy years of exile in Babylon. One can only imagine the trip home for these refugees when they “walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!” (Psalm 42:4 NLT)
But Psalm 126 also points to a deeper spiritual truth. Throughout Scripture Babylon is represented as the God-defying world. Although man was created in the image of God, years of languishing in the corrupt environs of Babylon leaves him defiled, scarred and damaged. And those who spend a lifetime under the sway of the god of this world know the abject misery and hopelessness of Babylonian life better than most.
And just like the Jewish exiles restored to their homeland were overjoyed, so too do those who first enter the kingdom of God! Many become so overcome with joy that they cannot contain it. The laughter spoken of here isn’t what one would witness in a carnal comedy club or amongst drunks carrying on in foolish revelry. This laughter wells up within the new believer when the joy of the Lord is introduced into his inner being.
And the singing mentioned here is not the carnal merriment found on secular radio or even the obligatory hymn singing of those who really can’t relate to the profound truths they are mouthing. The song spoken of here is the irrepressible gratitude bursting forth from the heart of a person who just been welcomed into the family of God.
For those who have paid dearly to be a slave of Babylon, emancipation brings joy unspeakable. They remember all too well the abject misery of being held by the cords of sin; of serving a brutal master; of living from one empty pleasure to the next. No wonder their newfound freedom seems like a dream come true!
And how about you? Have you experienced the joy of salvation? If not, is it because you have never really grasped the inexpressible value of salvation? Or could it be that you have never really been emancipated? The answer to these questions are more important than words can express.*********