Psalm 126 is an interesting text, if not slightly tricky, at first glance. With its mention of laughter and joy in the first few verses, it seems a celebratory song in need of an accompanying upbeat tune. Upon deeper inspection, however, the text takes a hard turn and calls for restoration through tears and weeping.

Bernard Howard addressed this text in a sermon to his congregation at Good Shepherd Anglican Church in New York City on August 9, 2020, titled “When Dry Riverbeds Flow Again.” Howard holds up Psalm 126 as a precious jewel meant to remind us of better times and point us to future hope. Those currently experiencing dry riverbeds are encouraged to read the text in terms of a natural breakdown of the psalm, which recalls past joy, exercises present prayer, and ends with future hope in the joyful harvest that’s promised.