Psalm 126 is easy to outline: It starts in the past, with praising God, then touches on the present which isn't going so well and needs prayer, then sings about the future (prophesy)
Part 1 -- past & praise
There is a good remembering of the past, and a bad one. The church spends most of its time doing bad remembering. Bad remembering includes, but is not limited to the following:
- Making the biblical era a special miraculous era, and not expecting God to be at work today
- Making past people into heroes, and diminishing our expectations of ourselves as people of faith
- Telling Bible and Church History stories in boring ways
- Opening the Bible without expecting it to be relevant to today
- Not doing the math to translate past sacrifices into current dollars and relevant actions
Years ago, I pastored a church that had a big building project to do. I looked up the contributions that the founding generation had made in 1906 to build the existing building. Then I multiplied this by inflation. It staggered the congregation to hear how much a similar sized group of their ancestors had given.
Part 2: Present needs prayer.
Psalm 126 begins with a neat line. Those who experience God in present tense, are like “those who dream.” Obviously, the present for the writer of these verses was a nightmare. That didn't prevent them from dreaming of what god could do. It also didn't keep them from acting in the present. This Psalm talks about planting seeds. Sowing with the expectation that God bringing about the harvest. Verse 5 says that sometimes you sow those seeds with tears in your eyes. A man may go out with his precious seed bag with tears in his eyes, and spread his seed and wait, and wait, and wait and only much later comes the harvest and the rejoicing. Sometimes have to part with what you would have like to have kept for yourself. For farmers in primitive places, the only way to plant a seeds, is to take some of the precious food that your family would have eaten and to take that wheat seed that your wife could have made into bread for today, and cast it out upon the field. In order to farm you have to be willing to give away what you would have like to have kept. Sacrifice and seed planting, go hand in hand.
Part 3: Future -- Prophesy
What are your hopes for the future? Describe your dreams.