When, her sons from bonds redeeming,
God to Zion led the way,
We were like to people dreaming
Thoughts of bliss too bright to stay.
Fill’d with laughter, stood we gazing,
Loud our tongues in rapture sang;
Quickly with the news amazing
All the startled nations rang.
“See Jehovah’s works of glory!
Mark what love for them he had!”
“Yes, FOR US! Go tell the story.
This was done, and we are glad.”
Lord! thy work of grace completing
All our exiled hosts restore,
As in thirsty channels meeting
Southern streams refreshing pour.
They that now in sorrow weeping
Tears and seed commingled sow,
Soon, the fruitful harvest reaping,
Shall with joyful bosoms glow.
Tho’ the sower’s heart is breaking,
Bearing forth the seed to shed,
He shall come, the echoes waking,
Laden with his sheaves instead.
–William Digby Seymour, in “The Hebrew Psalter. A New Metrical Translation”, 1882.
Verse 1. When the Lord turned again the captivity. As by the Lord’s permission they were led into captivity, so only by his power they were set at liberty. When the Israelites had served in a strange land four hundred years, it was not Moses, but Jehovah, that brought them out of the land of Egypt, and out of the house of bondage. In like manner it was he and not Deborah that freed them for Jabin after they had been vexed twenty years under the Canaanites. It was he and not Gideon that brought them out of the hands of the Midianites, after seven years’ servitude. It was he and not Jephthah that delivered them from the Philistines and Amorites after eighteen years’ oppression. Although in all these he did employ Moses and Deborah, Gideon and Jephthah, as instruments for their deliverance; and so it was not Cyrus’s valour, but the Lord’s power; not his policy, but God’s wisdom, that, overthrowing the enemies, gave to Cyrus the victory, and put it into his heart to set his people at liberty; for he upheld his hands to subdue nations. He did weaken the loins of kings, and did open the doors before him, he did go before him, and made the crooked places straight; and he did break the brazen doors, and burst the iron bars. Isaiah 45:1-2 . –John Hume, in “The Jewes Deliverance”, 1628.
Verse 1. In Jehovah’s turning (to) the turning of Zion. Meaning to return to the, or meet those returning, as it were, half way. The Hebrew noun denotes conversion, in its spiritual sense, and the verb God’s gracious condescension in accepting or responding to it. –Joseph Addison Alexander