By Henry Law
Restoration from captivity is the Lord's gracious work. In due time the sorrow of the righteous shall be swallowed up in joy.
1. "When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream."
When the days of Babylonish bondage were fully run, what transports of joy thrilled through Israel's sons! Their minds were almost bewildered by the grand event. The good tidings seemed almost as the mocking of an illusive vision of the night. So when deliverance from Satan's yoke is realized, what floods of delight overpower the soul! We were born captives in the devil's prison-house, his shackles held us tightly bound. We were slaves toiling under a cruel tyrant. But when Jesus comes and grants liberty we awake to a new world of happiness. We breathe the air of freedom. We exult with joy unspeakable and full of glory. We are tempted to exclaim, "Can this be real?"
2. "Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing; then said they among the heathen, The Lord has done great things for them."
Their homeward march was lively with exuberant thanksgiving. The voice of pious melody was heard around. The heathen beheld the marvelous return. At once they exclaimed that One mightier than man had come forth for their rescue. May we ever ascribe our redemption to free grace!
3. "The Lord has done great things for us, whereof we are glad."
The Lord, indeed, has done great things for us. Omnipotence has mightily come forth to save us from the grasp of Satan. Jesus, the incarnate God, has grappled with our deadly foe. He has snatched us from his thraldom. The great God brings salvation. Shall we not rejoice and sing!
4. "Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south."
When the heat of summer burns, many torrents show dry channels. The cattle, thirsting for refreshing waters, are mocked with empty beds. But when the rains return, their channels are again replenished, and gladness smiles beside their banks. So when the days of banishment are passed, the captives move homeward with delight. May the Lord speedily bring this joy to those who groan beneath Satan's cruel yoke!
5-6. "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
An image from rustic life gives comfort. The husbandman in hopeful toil casts the seed into the furrows. Months pass and there is no sign of life. In due season spring returns. The fields again are clad with verdure. Summer glows with ripening rays. The harvest is gathered in amid full shouts of joy. So a long period of dreary waiting may depress the soul; but the promised deliverance comes, and sorrow flees in shouts of fervent joy. May this be speedily our glad experience.