BY THE RIVERS OF BABYLON
Leslie M. John
“How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?” (Psalms 137:4)
True! How could anyone sing song of mirth in a foreign land where they are captives? The children of Israel being in desperate condition in Babylon had no other song than to sing few words of melancholy that they sat down by the rivers of Babylon and wept when they remembered Zion.
When they were enjoying God’s blessings in their homeland they forgot how loving God was to them, and instead they rebelled against Him. Their rebellion was not a new one. It started way back when they were at the foot of Mount Sinai. They took delight in worshipping golden calf made by Aaron, and others who helped him in the absence of Moses, who went on to the top of the mountain to speak to the LORD at His behest.
The rebellion of the children of Israel was noticed when they murmured for water first, for rest second, for food third, for meat fourth, and so on… They disobeyed God when they collected ‘manna’ on the Sabbath against His instructions; they disobeyed cultivating their land in every seventh year for seventy times, in rebellion to God’s command instead of leaving it to take rest. Therefore, they were God allowed them to be taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
They were crying in desperate words that they hanged their harps on the willows in the midst thereof, because Babylonians carried them away captive and required them of a song. They that persecuted them required of them song of mirth of Zion to the praises of their idols. Their condition was pathetic and it was in these circumstances that they cried as to how they could sing the LORD’s song in a strange land!
They could not sing song of mirth but they sang a song in lamentation inquiring as to how they could sing a song of mirth in the land of foreigners. They fulfilled their forcible desire but their words were not of joy but were of melancholy.
They lamented that they were captives and remembered how safe they were in the hands of God in their homeland. They realized that their captivity was in consequence of their worship of the idols. They felt the absence of God’s help and they were let alone to be taken captive. They not only lost their freedom but they also lost their land.
They repent now and remember their past happy life and therefore they now lament in words like “if I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning”. They repent now of their sins and their rebellion against the LORD that led them to fall in the hands of their enemies. They go on saying that if they do not prefer Jerusalem above their chief joy, let their tongue cleave to the roof of their mouths.
The Edomites, who were descendants of Esau, rejoice destruction of Jerusalem, and therefore their song was against them as well. While they sing in lamentation their wailing was for wiping them out even to their foundations.
They prophecy saying happy shall he be the one who rewards them in His anger and their enemies are destroyed and happy shall be the one who takes their little ones and dash them against stones because they had put them to sufferings.
The spiritual condition of God’s children, who rebelled against the Almighty God, is quite evident here. Obviously they reaped the consequence of God turning away His face from them, leaving them alone to reap that which they have sown. Who can be for us if God takes away His support from us? The enemy was quick enough to take undue advantage of their unhelpful condition in isolation and captured them. They now repent.
How blessed are those whose spiritual condition is right with God! They sing day and night “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come”.
The twenty four elders, representing the Church, fall casting their crowns in humble adoration down before he LORD seated on the throne saying, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created”.
“The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:10-11)