Sowing in Tears, Reaping in Joy

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Psalm 126


I.         Psalm 126 is one of a series of psalms devoted to the return of the Israelites from captivity.

            A.        The sadness of the captivity made the joy of return to freedom so much greater.

            B.        It is the end of this psalm which captures a truth for each of us today.

II.        So often, the spreading of God’s word is liken to farming

            A.        The parable of the sower - Matthew 13:18-23

            B.        The parable of the tares - Matthew 13:24-30, with its explanation - Matthew 13:36-43

            C.        The sowing of seed is a tearful task

                        1.         A farmer takes grain that could feed his family and scatters it in a field in hopes of a crop that will give a greater yield than what went in.

                                    a.         Yet there is no certainty that it will produce. There is no certainty that the weather will cooperate.

                                    b.         Yet a farmer who holds back will not gain - Ecclesiastes 11:4

                                    c.         So too is the gospel. Much good is not accomplished, many opportunities are passed over because those with the Word are hesitant to speak.

                                                (1)       They fear rejection

                                                (2)       They fear being inadequate for the job.

                                                            (a)       But this could be overcome with advance preparations.

                                                            (b)       Yet, people too often put it off - Proverbs 20:4

                                                (3)       Growth can only come by giving.

                                                            (a)       Though Paul talks of giving in the II Corinthian letter, the same principle could be applied to teaching - II Corinthians 9:6

                        2.         Sowing the seed is a tearful task because we know we will lose so many

                                    a.         Jesus wept over the loss of Jerusalem - Matthew 23:37-38

                                    b.         The teacher must care for those who are slipping away - II Corinthians 5:10-11

                                    c.         God doesn’t want any lost and neither should we - Ezekiel 33:11

                        3.         A farmer must work even in adverse conditions

                                    a.         So too must the Christian work - Matthew 10:16-23

                                    b.         One commentator wrote, concerning Psalms 126:5, “The syntax gives the impression of a man patiently plodding along at his task, grieving over the hopelessness of it all, but still going on, bearing his seed for sowing. His faith in God’s promise assures him that in the end, he will come again with jubilant shouts.”

                                    c.         The warning of Christ to one church - Revelation 2:10

                                    d.         Paul’s suffering for the gospel - II Corinthians 4:5-18

III.       There is a promise that our work is not in vain - Isaiah 55:10-11

IV.      When the harvest comes, when all of the effort has brought fruition, then comes the great joy

            A.        The return of the prodigal son - Luke 15:32

            B.        Joy in the recovery of one soul - Luke 15:2-10

            C.        Do you not think that Jesus thought the suffering of the cross was worth bringing us salvation? - Hebrews 12:2-3

            D.        Paul thought his suffering was worth it - II Timothy 2:8-10

            E.        The harvest we may gather is greater than what we sow, for we often harvest what others have sown - John 4:35-38

V.        What are you doing with the seed God has provided to you?

            A.        Hoarding it or sharing it?

            B.        Are you laboring to save some while tears stream down your face over the ones you could not reach in time?

            C.        The joy of the harvest awaits, but first the seed must be sown in tears.

            D.        We cannot sit idle.

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