Summary: It appears that God will bless us as we bless others with his message, with the gospel. Here’s God’s plan. (outline by A. Naismith) 1- The going of the servant 2- The flowing of the tears 3- The sowing of the seed 4- The mowing of the harvest
INTRO.- V. 4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord. What happened to the people of God? They lost their fortunes when they were carried off into captivity. This captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon. The people of God were not “happy campers,” to say the least. Why did this happen? Because the people were unfaithful to God. They were backsliders.
ILL.- One time many years ago I got a call from a local funeral home director, asking if I would preach the funeral for a man from a Baptist church because they didn’t have a preacher at that time. The man was only in his 40‘s and died from a sudden heart attack. I agreed to speak at his funeral and went to call on the family. The man who answered the door was the father of his deceased son. When I introduced myself, he said, “Come on in, we’re all a bunch of backsliders in here!”
Wow! What does God think of backsliders? He loves them just like He loves everyone else. What does He do for them? He disciplines them just like He did His people in the Old Testament when they backslid.
God disciplines His people for their good. We may not like His form of discipline but it’s for our good and it was for their ultimate good. When people who are supposed to know God, love Him and serve Him, but turn away from Him they lose in every way! They may even lose their material blessings, their fortunes, etc. God can take away from people whatever He wants in order to correct them.
ILL.- John Charles Ryle wrote: “It is a miserable thing to be a backslider. Of all unhappy things that can befall a man, I suppose “backsliding” is the worst. A stranded ship, a broken-winged eagle, a garden overrun with weeds, a harp without strings, a church in ruins—all these are sad sights. But a backslider is a sadder sight still. That true grace shall never be extinguished, and true union with Christ never be broken off, I feel no doubt. But I do believe that a man may fall away so far that he shall lose sight of his own grace, and despair of his own salvation. And if this is not hell, it is certainly the next thing to it!”
This may have been something of what the people of God went through in their captivity. And this Psalm is a song of their return to the Lord and what they asked of Him. RESTORE OUR FORTUNES, O LORD. Even in our own backslidden ways we are blessed regardless of whether we have a fortune or not. However, I do believe that when we come to God or come back to God He is willing to bless us in ways we never thought possible.
NIV 1When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. The meaning is, "It seemed like a dream; we could hardly believe it; it was so marvelous, so good, so full of joy, that we could scarcely believe it was real."
When people turn to God or back to God He will bless them.
Vs. 5 Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. 6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. These verses may actually deal with the blessing of good results in their farming but can be applied to Christian work today. We are supposed to sow gospel seed according to the Great Com.