Vocalizing In Babylon

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our lyres.  For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”  How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?  If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!  Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!  Psalm 137:1-6

Not all Psalms were written by David.  This one was written by a Jewish exile living in Babylon.  Having seen his homeland destroyed and then taken as a captive into the foreign culture of the Babylonian Empire, he struggled to get his spiritual bearings.  His new homeland was corrupt and excessive, and the people of God stuck out like sore thumbs. 

They were invited to sing their simple songs of faith to the taunts of the crowd, not unlike the Jews who were made to perform in the camps for Nazi soldiers.  Brilliant violinists, violists, cellists, and bass violin players formed string quartets to pacify the military tyrants who despised them. 

The song of the redeemed is being rendered just as peculiar against the backdrop of these unsettling days.  As we continue to witness rapid decline into the abyss of godlessness, we must not conform.  God’s grace will enable us to stand and to sing.  Our allegiance is to the kingdom of heaven and His culture of holiness.     

There is an ongoing emotional and spiritual adjustment for what we’re witnessing and what we know will come next.  In our grief, God invites us to sing the songs of the exiles. We are clearly outsiders and the brunt of society’s jokes, but our voices must not be silenced.  The noise of evil must not prevail over the praise of God’s people.  It’s not time to close the piano lid.  It’s not time to retire the pen of the poet.  It’s not time to put away the instruments.  Never has the music of faith been more important and never are the songs sweeter than when saints raise their joyful voices with tear stained faces. 

You are my joy.  Let my hope sing.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

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