“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?” Psalm 137:1-4
Missing the life that they were used to in Israel, a group of exiles left the city of Babylon and found a shady spot by the river, to lament their lot together. Hanging their harps on the willow trees, they had no desire to touch them. The songs that once had filled their hearts were replaced by tears.
Soon they were surrounded by a group of young people from the city, making fun of them and mocking their grief. “Why don’t you take those harps down and play and sing us the songs that you used to sing in Zion,” they demanded.
“How can we sing songs about the Lord here in a strange land, where we are separated from the temple and from God’s presence?” They felt that the songs they knew were only meant to be sung in the Lord’s house. They had completely forgotten all they knew about God, that He had promised to be with them even in their captivity. They had forgotten the promise that Jeremiah had given them from the Lord.
“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” Jeremiah 29:13-14
During the last two years many of us were not able to get out to church and worship with our fellow believers. But this did not change our relationship with the Lord. We still had a song in our heart, knowing that He was with us.
Have you been going through something that has silenced the song of joy in your heart? Maybe it is time to take your harp down off the willow and realize that God requires a song, even when things seem hopeless.
Prayer: Jesus thank you that the joy you give is not dependent on location or circumstances, but just on trusting you and praising you each day.
Devotion by Anne Johnston
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