Who was they in Psalm 126:5?
Psalms 126:5 - 6
KJV - 5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. 6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
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I would say that, in the context of the psalm, the word "they" was a reference to the people of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who had been conquered by the Babylonians and taken into exile for seventy years (2 Kings 24-25), but who were finally able to return to Judah at the end of their captivity in Babylon (537 BC). They originally departed from their land weeping and in sorrow (figuratively represented by watering grain seed with their tears), but were able to return to it in joy (figuratively represented by bringing the now fully-grown and harvested sheaves of grain back with them).
Who is “they” in Psalm 126:5-6? These verses are a part of the 15 Psalms that are labeled “Songs of Ascent.” (Psalm 120 – 134) These songs were thought to be sung by pilgrims as they approached Jerusalem to attend the three annual festivals required by the law. (Deuteronomy 16:16) They also could have been sung by Levite Priests as they ascended the 15 steps leading up from the Court of the Women to the Nicanor Gate which opened onto the Court of the Israelites. There is no mention of an author for Psalm 126, but it is generally thought to be Ezra, who penned it in celebration of their return from Babylonish exile. Because of its popularity, this particular Psalm has become proverbial. It is timeless in its application. Today it would signify the experience of living out our Christian lives of faith.. Interestingly, on May 10, 2018, three American prisoners were released from a North Korean prison as a gesture of good will. When they arrived, they were met at the airport by Vice President Mike Pence. During their greetings, one of the returning prisoners handed the Vice President a hand-written note quoting Psalms 126:1-3. At this time we are symbolically planting seeds in our hearts by living a faithful life under all circumstances. (Hosea 10:12) This is part of our Christian growth and is often accompanied by tears and weeping in the face of growing opposition. In these critical times Satan is mounting his attack against followers of Jesus. (1 Peter 5:8) So, now is not the time to be sowing seeds to the flesh, (Galatians 5:19-21) but instead sow to the spirit despite the hardships this may sometimes cause. (Galatians 5:22-23) The fruits of our planting will be our everlasting joy and rejoicing, living under the righteous rulership of Jesus Christ our King.
The Hebrew verb or word translated "turned again" in Ps 126:1 (KJV; "brought back," NASB, NIV) and "turn again" or "restore" in Ps 126:4, is also used to describe the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon (Ezra 2:1; Neh. 7:6; Isa. 10:22; Jer 22:10).
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