There are certain hymns that have made their way into American culture over the years. The ever-popular “Amazing Grace” more than likely tops the list of hymns that many American non-Christians at least are somewhat familiar with. Another one that historically has been frequently been sung around the country is “Bringing in the Sheaves”. I distinctly remember watching an episode of the “Andy Griffith” show in which the main characters were in church singing that song (though I cannot remember if Barney Fife was able to hold a decent tune in that episode).
Our reading today brings us to the passage this song is based on. Psalm 126:5-6 reads, “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.” Clearly this is a pretty familiar passage, but what exactly does it mean?
Doing a little research online brought varying meanings and applications. You may have heard of the ministry called, “Bearing Precious Seed” whose primary purpose is the distribution of the Word of God. Though I think it’s safe the most literal application of this passage has nothing to do with the Bible, one can certainly understand why the founders chose that name for their ministry.
The popular Bible teacher John Piper wrote a devotional on these verses entitled, “Talking to your Tears”, which I do believe captures what this passage is saying. Is there anything particularly difficult about sowing seed? No. Obviously in a agricultural society this activity took place all of the time. So, it wasn’t the act of sowing seed that brought tears. I believe the idea and meaning is for us to be faithful even during periods of trials and tribulations. Even if the menial tasks of life are hard and bring tears, stick with it. Why? Because the harvest is ahead. All things will work together for good to those who love God. Just stick with it, be faithful, even when it’s hard. Certainly, by application this passage can also associated with witnessing. It will be hard with long seasons of no fruit, which can often bring discouragement. But our job is to be faithful and let God bring the increase. So may we be faithful in our sowing, even when it may be mixed with our tears.