At first glance, the setting of this Psalm appears to be the return from the Babylonian exile. However, the description is so general that it could refer to any number of events recorded in the historical books in which Israel was under pressure from foreign powers. In fact, two captivities seem to be in view in this Psalm; one that was ended by God’s intervention (vv. 1-3), and the present one, the subject of the psalmist’s petition (v. 4).
The Psalm may be thus outlined: praise for a past restoration (vv. 1-3), petition for restoration for the present (v. 4) and confidence in restoration in the future (vv. 5, 6).
This Psalm, written perhaps by King Hezekiah to mark the deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrian siege (Isaiah 37:36), may have also been the theme song for the returning remnant who left Babylon for Jerusalem after the 70 year captivity. (See Ezra 1.)
Psalm 126 should be contrasted with Psalm 137, which records the soul agony of those Israelites whom Nebuchadnezzar carried unto Babylon at the beginning of the 70-year captivity period. Note in verses 1-6 the despair at that time.
- Henry Frost
First Baptist Church, Hampton Falls and their pastor Ken Lawrence
First Baptist Church, Hanover (Etna) and their pastor Ted Brayman
Trinity Baptist Church, Hanover and their pastor Ken Hale