Summary: One must sow before one can reap.

You Must Sow Before You Can Reap

Psalm 126:5-6 (KJV)

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

The Psalms are without equal in scripture in regard to their richness of illustration.

• Unfortunately many of the incredible truths contained within the poetic language of the Psalmist is lost in the transition to our language and culture.

o Because of this the Psalms are best viewed when they can be seen through the lens of the author’s personal experience.

o It is often difficult to catch such a glimpse of the Psalms, however, when it happens it opens the doors of understanding at a whole new level.

• Our text represents one such passage of scripture.

o Sowing and weeping are not readily connected in the western mind.

o Rarely have their been occasions in American History or in our frame of understanding where the sower went to the field to spread his precious seed with weeping and sorrow.

o Therefore the real impact of the Psalmists words are somewhat reduced because of our limited realm of experience.

• I recently read a piece by a missionary that served 14 years in West Africa.

o His experience there gave him a unique opportunity to glimpse Psalm 126 within a context that must have been similar to the experience of the original author.

• He worked out of the Sahel, a vast stretch of the Savanna more than four thousand miles wide just under the Sahara Desert.

o In the Sahel, all the moisture comes in a four-month period: May, June, July, and August.

o After that, not a drop of rain falls for eight months.

o The ground cracks from dryness, and so do your hands and feet.

• The winds of the Sahara pick up the dust and throw it thousands of feet into the air.

o It then comes slowly drifting across West Africa as a fine grit.

o It gets inside your mouth. It gets in your nose. It gets in your lungs. It even gets inside your watch and will ruin it.

• The year's supply of food must all be grown in those four months.

o The people there grow sorghum or milo in small fields.

• When he related his experience he said that, in the Sahel, October and November are beautiful months.

o Those are the months that know the bounty of harvest.

o During those months the granaries are full.

o The joyous harvest has arrived.

o People sing and dance.

o They eat two meals a day.

o The sorghum is ground between two stones to make flour and then a mush with the consistency of Cream of Wheat is prepared.

o The sticky mush is eaten hot; they roll it into little balls between their fingers, drop it into a bit of sauce and then pop it into their mouths.

o The meal lies heavy on their stomachs and they sleep the sleep of the contented.

• Then December comes, and the granaries start to recede.

o Many families omit the morning meal.

• Certainly by January not one family in fifty is still eating two meals a day.

• By February, the evening meal diminishes.

• The meal shrinks even more during March and children succumb to sickness.

o You just don't stay well on half a meal a day.

• April is the month when disaster begins to strike.

o The images of April, according to the missionary, are haunting.

o In April you hear the babies crying in the twilight.

o Most of the days are passed with only an evening cup of gruel.

• Then, inevitably, it happens.

o A six-or seven-year-old boy comes running to his father one day with sudden excitement.

• "Daddy! Daddy! We've got grain!" he shouts.

o "Son, you know we haven't had grain for weeks."

o "Yes, we have!" the boy insists.

• "Out in the hut where we keep the goats -- there's a leather sack hanging up on the wall -- I reached up and put my hand down in there -- Daddy, there's grain in there! Give it to Mommy so she can make flour, and tonight our tummies can sleep!"

o The father stands motionless. "Son, we can't do that," he softly explains.

• "That's next year's seed grain. It's the only thing between us and starvation. We're waiting for the rains, and then we must use it."

• The rains finally arrive in May, and when they do the young boy watches as his father takes the sack from the wall and does the most unreasonable thing imaginable.

o Instead of feeding his desperately weakened family, the father goes to the field and with tears streaming down his face, he takes the precious seed and throws it away.

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