April 8, 2020
The law of sowing and reaping states quite simply, you reap what you sow. To clarify, if you plant corn in a field, then when harvest time comes you can logically expect corn to be the crop that grows. If you sow corn, you reap corn. Makes sense, right? God uses this as an illustration of our spiritual lives several places in His word. The law is always the same, you reap what you sow. One place where we see a different view of this is in Psalm 126.
“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.” Psalm 126:1-3
In Psalm 126, the psalmist is looking forward to the restoration of Zion. It is an unusual psalm structurally in that the last 3 verses appear to take place before the first 3 verses. In the first 3 verses, the psalmist is talking about the restoration of Zion in terms of something that has already come to pass. It appears to be a celebration of praise to the Lord for His deliverance. Then in verse 4, the tone changes.
“Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:4-6
The psalmist is now addressing the restoration of Zion as a plea to the Lord. It is coming from a place of need, not something that has already happened. This is where the law of sowing and reaping comes into play. He portrays the deliverance of Zion as having already happened in the first 3 verses, most likely because he is trusting in the promises and faithfulness of the Lord. So, when we look at verses 4-6, we see a people who are in sorrow and pain over the circumstances surrounding them. They are portrayed as going out to sow and plant in sorrow but reaping with shouts of joy. They go out to sow in weeping but return home with celebration and a full harvest.
There are a couple of things that we can take from this passage as believers going through difficult circumstances. The first is that sorrow and difficulties in this life are temporary. We sow and plant in sorrow, but then when the time for the harvest arrives, the Lord has accomplished His work and we are now celebrating the victory and deliverance. There is no set timetable for this, I would love to be able to tell you that your difficult circumstances will only last a few days, weeks, or months, but I can’t do that. This psalm is not meant to give us a timetable, only to show us that God is not absent in our difficult times. He is at work and He will provide, deliver, redeem! Galatians 6:7-9 puts it this way.
“Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:7-9
We are commanded to continue to endure and do good, trusting in the Lord’s provision that even though it may not seem like it, we will reap that good in due season because the Lord is faithful. This means that we can trust Him even in the most difficult of circumstances.
The second takeaway from Psalm 126 is that God is able to and will redeem our pain and sorrow. Even though for a season we are going out and reaping with sorrow and weeping, we return with a crop of joy. This seems to go against the law of sowing and reaping. This is only possible through God. Remember the words of Joseph to his brothers at the end of Genesis “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20 Joseph sowed an awful lot of sorrow in his life, and yet he had the ability to stand before his brothers and give God the glory because he knew it was God who had redeemed his circumstances and used them for His purpose. Do you think he understood that when his brothers tossed him a that pit? Or when he was sold on the auction block? Or when he was accused of a crime he didn’t commit and thrown into prison? There was plenty of sowing sorrow in Joseph’s life, but because of God’s providence and sovereignty, there was a celebration when it came time to reap a harvest of joy.
Or how about Jesus himself? Or the disciples? As we are in the middle of the week of Easter, think about the sorrow felt by the disciples as they watched the Son of God crucified. The sorrow Jesus felt in the garden as he prayed that the cup be taken from Him, but God’s will be done. Or how about the nails that were driven into Jesus’ hands and feet, the spear that pierced Jesus’ side, or the crown of thorns pressed down upon Jesus’ brow. Or the ultimate in sowing in sorrow, Jesus taking upon Himself the sins of the entire world. Every sin I have ever committed or will commit, placed on Him. Every sin you will ever commit or have committed, placed on Him. Now that was some sowing of pain and sorrow. Yet as we have the benefit of hindsight, we know that the cross wasn’t the end. Friday isn’t the end of the story, because Sunday came, and with it, the empty tomb, the risen Savior! A harvest of joy and celebration! The victory won and sealed forever!
Are you sowing in sorrow right now? Does it feel like there is no end in sight? Do not give up as Paul commands in Galatians! Trust in the Lord that your sorrow is only for a season, and that He, the Lord, is able to redeem your sorrow and turn it into a harvest of joy when the time comes. Remember the words of Peter.
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6-9