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Journey to Bethlehem, Our Christmas Devotional Day 9 Psalm 126:1-3

Monday, December 10

Psalm 126:1-3

1 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.

Imagine that day in 586 bc when disaster came upon the people of Jerusalem, that day when the walls came down and the city was literally plowed up as God judged the nation. On that day the people of God were taken captive and transported to Babylon for seventy years of exile. There they wept by the rivers, hung their harps on the willow trees, dreamed of Jerusalem, and “vowed” to remember her.

Now imagine the day God delivered them, the day that foreign king released them, and then financed and sponsored their return to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. The psalmist takes us into the deep truth of this experience of the people of God. They had dreamed of this day, and now its reality was better and more glorious than anything they could have anticipated. The writer wants us to get a sense of how they laughed and how they sang for joy, of how great and thorough their deliverance really was. King Cyrus himself, and all the nations who watched, acknowledged that God alone had done this for His people.

We too have been released from captivity, a bondage to sin and death. And our fortunes have been restored through the mighty redemption that is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord. Do you remember the joy of that day in your life, and how your mouth was filled with laughter and praise?

When the Israelites sang this psalm as they journeyed to Jerusalem to worship the Lord, it was not an exercise in nostalgia. No, the truth of God’s past faithfulness to them had shaped who they were; it was the historically-informed ground for their hope in the present, and in the future.

The same is true for us today. We have a promise: He is coming again. Then, the restoration of the whole order of men and nature will be complete. The Bible declares all creation groans in anticipation of that day when Jesus returns, when there will be a new heaven and a new earth, when God’s dwelling will be with His people. As beautiful as we might imagine that day to be, it will be far more glorious than anything we can anticipate. On that day we shall see Him as He is; and every knee will bow, and every tongue confess He is Lord. 

What song will we sing as we walk with God in the here and now? Will we dream again of what God has promised and what He can do? Will laughter fill our hearts and mouths; will we simply have to tell someone about the great things the Lord has done? Will we say that we also are glad?

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the great things You have done for us. Fill us with awe and wonder at such a great salvation from our great Savior Jesus. Show us how to live in resurrection power every day. Awaken dreams in us, bring laughter back into our hearts, and fill our mouths with praise.  In the name of Jesus, Amen.