Passage: Psalm 126
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
At so many levels our world is not as it ought to be, and as Christians we long for God’s restoration. Psalm 126 trains us in that longing for restoration.
First, we need to look back on the restoration God has already brought. Just as the Psalmist still looked back with glad memories on a previous time of national restoration, so we too, as Christians, should look back with gladness on the restoration he’s already brought us in Christ. Looking back assures us that God is the type of God who restores and gives us hope that he will do it again. Second, we need to look forward to the future, creation-wide restoration that Christ will bring at his return. Just as the Psalmist vividly anticipates an abundant harvest and “shouts of joy,” Christians should develop a holy imagination for what God’s future restoration will look like, in a renewed heavens and renewed earth. Finally, we simply need to keep going, with grit and perseverance. We need to keep “sowing” seeds of restoration as we invest ourselves in God’s work, even as we still weep in sadness over the state of the world. In Jesus, we have the ultimate example “sowing while weeping” because in the gospel, Jesus wept over the broken state of God’s world, then “sowed his own self” into it, being buried in a tomb, then raised on the third day as the “firstfruits” of God’s full restoration to come.
- We Need to Look Back (vs. 1-3)
- We Need to Look Forward (vs. 5-6)
- We Need to Keep Going (vs. 4-6)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (Psalm 126)
We Need to Look Back (vs. 1-3)
Q) In verses 1-3, the Psalmist remembers a time when the Lord “restored the fortunes of Israel.” What were some of the characteristics of this restoration, and what effect did it have on Israel?
Q) Have you ever experienced a time when you felt like the Lord “restored your fortunes,” either individually, or as a church you were a part of?
Q) How can looking back on past acts of the Lord help us to be more confident in his future working on our behalf? Have you ever experienced a challenging circumstance, and been encouraged by looking back on how the Lord had already acted on your behalf? (NOTE: Another questions to consider: How can looking back on past acts of the Lord help you be more confident in his working, in the midst of COVID-19?)
We Need to Look Forward (vs. 5-6)
Q) Re-read verses 4-6. What words and images does the Psalmist use to describe the reward that’s promised to those who sow?
Q) How often do you think about the fact that God will fully restore the whole creation? Do you typically think of this truth as part of the gospel? If you have a Christian upbringing, was this aspect of the gospel taught as part of your discipleship?
Q) Ben said that we need to look forward with a holy longing towards that time when the Lord brings a full and complete restoration of the earth, at Jesus’ return. What area of your life, community, or world do you long to see the Lord’s full “restoration” in?
Q) It’s good to stretch our imagination in thinking of what the Lord’s full restoration could look like, knowing, of course, that we can only underestimate him! As a group, spend some time discussing what you think each of these spheres could look like, fully restored, in the new heavens and the new earth?
- A restored environment
- Restored families
- Restored relations between races
- Restored work & economy
- Restored sports & leisure
Q) Is there a person you know, who is not a Christian, who might be encouraged by knowing that God will restore the whole creation? How might this come up in a conversation with them?
We Need to Keep Going (vs. 4-6)
Q) Re-read verses 5-6. What does it mean to “go out weeping” and to “sow in tears”? What truths about following Jesus are communicated by the image of “sowing”?
Q) How, if at all, do verses 5-6 personally encourage you?
Q) Ben said that to “sow” is to invest yourself in an area that needs restoration (e.g. a person, a relationship, a social issue), even before you see results. Where do you feel called to “sow” or “invest” (or to keep sowing)?
Q) How do you think these verses can encourage us as a congregation to keep “investing” in the pursuit of racial reconciliation?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.