“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” (Psa 126:5-6).

The metaphor here seems to be that of a poor farmer who has had a very bad harvest the year before. A very scanty portion of grain and food has been gathered from the earth, yet the seeding time has come again. Out of the previous year’s famine, he must plant for a new year. Maybe only a little seed has been saved to be sown, or perhaps the farmer has purchased the seed at great expense, in hopes of another crop to feed his family. The poor farmer must sow, or else despair and perish. He carries his precious seed with him in his bag, and with a sorrowful heart commits it to the plowed soil. Though the sowing of seed is a work of labor and sorrow, yet the return (the harvest) brings rejoicing. Works which are begun under many difficulties, and which require much labor, are crowned with success. The joy is more than equivalent to all the weariness and sorrow felt in carrying out the task whether it is the toil of the farmer; the cares and anxieties of the student; the work of conversion and repentance; the labors of the preacher or minister; the efforts of the Bible class teacher; the faithfulness of the Christian parent; the endeavors of elders in overseeing the flock; even the zeal and sacrifice of the Christian missionary. Whoever labors hard, in cold and in rain, in fear and danger, in poverty and in want, casting his precious seed in the ground, will surely come again, at harvest-time, with rejoicing, and bearing his sheaves with him.

The prophets who sowed in tears will reap in joy. The righteous were persecuted and served their God with weeping (Hos. 10:12). Paul wept as he sowed the seed of the kingdom, but he will reap in joy (John 4:34-38). Paul sowed the word of God to Ephesus and many others (Acts 20:17-19). He reminded them of the tears he shed in sowing the seed to them (Acts 20:31). He did not labor in vain, but reaped in joy. Those who sin can sow the word and humble themselves to obey (Jas. 4:9-10). Those who sow in tears of sorrow for their weaknesses can still sow and reap in joy. Jesus is the classic example of one who sowed in tears and reaped in joy (Heb. 5:7). Who could possibly reap more than Jesus?


    1. What reasons might make the farmer sow his seed with tears (Psa. 126:5)?
    2. Why would the analogy of sowing and reaping be such a graphic illustration to those living in Israel during David’s time?
    3. Why would Christians sow eternal seed in tears?
    4. Explain how the time of reaping would bring joy to those who sow the seed.
    5. What does the faithful Christian mother do with her children every day (2 Tim. 3:15)?
    6. How would a faithful, qualified elder sow in tears and reap in joy?
    7. When are we to sow the seed (2 Tim. 4:2)?
    8. If we do not work in the field when it is “cold,” to whom will we be likened (Prov. 20:4)? What will he and we have in the harvest?
    9. What is the eternal seed (Matt. 13:22-23; Luke 8:11)?
    10. What if a farmer sowed the wrong seed or mixed seed? Would he then reap in joy?
    11. According to the parable of the sower, the word of God is the seed sown in the hearts of men. What is the fruit of that seed?
      • Using the vine analogy, what are God’s children in the vine (John 15:5)?
      • Is the fruit which the branch produces grapes or more branches (John 15:2)?
      • Is the child of God commanded to bear more branches or more fruit (John 15:8)?
      • What is the fruit that the child of God is to produce (Tit. 3:14)?
      • What does the Father purge so the branch will bear more fruit (John 15:2)?
      • Some say the fruit of a Christian is another Christian. If this is true and the Christian is a branch, what would the Christian produce?
      • If the Christian bears another branch, and the Father purges the first branch, what would happen to the second branch?
      • If the fruit of a Christian is another Christian, what does the Father promise to do if the first branch produces fruit (good works) (John 15:2; Tit 3:14)?


  1. Find as many ways as you can to show how the apostle Paul sowed in tears and reaped in joy. Remember that Paul wrote at least 13 of the NT epistles and possibly 14. There are examples of his “sowing in tears” in all of his letters. Pay particular attention to 2 Corinthians, chapters 10 through 13.