The Word Made Fresh
(A song of ascent.)
1When the LORD brought us back to Zion,
it was like being in a dream.
2We laughed and sang and shouted with joy.
The nations around us all said,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
3The LORD had done great things for us, and we were overjoyed.
4Help us to recover from our time of exile, LORD,
like streams being replenished in the Negev wilderness.
5Let those who weep while they sow the grain
reap the harvest shouting joyfully.
6Let those who weep as they carry the seed for sowing
return carrying their sheaves with songs of joy.
Superscription: the 7th of the 15 “songs of ascent.”
1-6: The people of Israel had been in exile for about 70 years in Babylonia when the Babylonian king, Cyrus, issued the decree that allowed them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple and the city (see 2 Chronicles 36:22-23). This psalm records the elation that the people felt, and their hopes as they set out on the journey. The accounts in Ezra and Nehemiah make it clear that what they found when they got there was a daunting task of rebuilding a crumbled city and a nearly nonexistent infrastructure. Still, God had acted on their behalf to restore them to their homeland, and though faced with a dire situation, it was evidence that God had not forgotten them.
Sometimes the circumstances of life leave us exiled – exiled from joy; exiled from hope; exiled from a once close relationship with God. You can think of times and ways you felt set aside and forgotten. But the God who allows us to be exiled can also bring us to a new life, though it may take some work to rebuild.