“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.


“He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame” (Prov. 10:4-5).

Even on a literal level, we see that the son of the husbandman is expected to enter into labor with others, and to reap where they have sown. For him to sleep when the harvest lies ready for the sickle is the most extreme laziness and indeed a great shame to his father.

A similar passage dealing with the harvest of souls is found in 1 Corinthians. Paul says, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:6-9).

We all have a job to do, and certainly we do not want to be a shame to our Heavenly Father—the husbandman of souls. Our part may be to water or to glean where others have sewn, but the Lord will still require that “harvest” at our hand. Remember that the fields are white unto harvest and we must not deal with a slack hand (John 4:35). Why? Because “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).


1. Physically, what must anyone do to reap a harvest?

2. Spiritually, what must someone do in order to reap a spiritual harvest?

3. In whose vineyard have we been called to work (1 Cor. 3:9)?

4. According to Mat. 13:18-23, what does one sow in order to reap a good harvest?

5. What did Paul do in order to reap a great harvest in Corinth (1 Cor. 3:5-8)?

6. What would have happened to Paul if he had not sown the seed (1 Cor. 9:16-17)?

7. Does it matter what the sower and the reaper think as they sow and reap (1 Cor. 9:16-17)?

8. Does it matter how hard or how wisely a person works to get a harvest (1 Cor. 3:8, 10)?

9. What did Apollos do in order to reap a great harvest in Corinth (1 Cor. 3:5-8)?

10. How many does the Lord expect to be involved in sowing the seed (Heb. 5:12)?

11. What kind of son or daughter are we if we do not sow in the spring and reap in the harvest?

12. When do we receive a reward for what we have sown and reaped (Luke 14:13-14)?

13. Who is blessed with the greatest reward, the sower or the reaper (1 Cor. 3:5-8)?

14. Does it matter who reaps or who sows (John 4:36-37)?

15. Are we required to sow what we reap in order to gain a reward (John 4:36-38)?


“The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing” (Pro. 20:4).

What happens when a person plows in the cold weather?  Is he without pain or trouble? If he waits until there is no discomfort in his work, he won’t often work. If we only preach the word at a convenient time, we are not plowing in the cold.  We are told to: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2).

Worldly people will force us to conform to their ways unless we are willing to suffer their hatred and scorn to follow Christ and His commands.  “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2).

Jesus refused to be conformed to the world, but his brothers fell to the temptation!  Jesus told them, “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil” (John 7:7).

We must be willing to stand for Jesus even in the cold and even when the world hates us. “And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.  But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls (Luke 21:16-19).

We need to use the spiritual plow in cold weather and well as good weather. We should not be like the sluggard who has nothing when the harvest comes.

1. A slothful man is said to be idle, lazy, sluggish (Prov 15:19; 26:13-15). The Book of Proverbs contrasts two paths, or ways of life: the way of wisdom and the way of folly. The slothful man is foolish, while the diligent, hard-working person is wise.  Compare the references for the sluggard with those of the slothful man.  How do they compare?

2. What is a sluggard?  Describe what a sluggard does (Prov. 6:6-11).

3. Using the same passage, tell how the ant is different?

4. Why might a sluggard use the excuse that there is a lion in the streets (Prov 26:13-16)?  How does this compare to a backsliding Christian who says he “has a headache” and therefore cannot come to services?

5. What is it like to send a sluggard to do a job (Prov. 10:26)?

6. Consider Proverbs 13:4 and see how many applications from everyday life you can make to this verse.

7. Explain what is meant by Proverbs 26:16.

8. Why did the people in Joshua’s time not go in to possess the land God said he had given them (Judges 18:9)?

9. What will happen to those who are slothful (Prov. 12:24)?

10. Sometimes it is easy to see a person’s fault, but we may not know how to apply New Testament scripture to teach him to be better.  Using the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), explain the basic problem with the one talent man.  Then apply Romans 12:11 and Hebrews 6:12 to show how someone like that might be encouraged to please the Lord.