Matters of Faith: In Deep Sorrow

By Rev. J. Loren Russell

“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”
It was a dark time in the lives of the Israelites. They were in captivity again and living by the rivers of Babylon, a strange land far away from their country. They were prisoners of war and in bondage, just like they were in Egypt. Their sadness was so constant that they had no desire to sing praises to their God. They hung their instruments in the willow trees. Moreover, every time they thought of their homeland of Jerusalem, they wept bitterly. The Lord had turned their feasting into mourning and their songs into lamentations (Amos 8:10). In captivity, they seemed to have forgotten that they were to give thinks in all things (Isaiah 24:15-16).

Psalm 137:4 (NKJV)

They found themselves in deep sorrow. They were in captivity and at the demand of their captors. For their entertainment, the Babylonians ordered them to sing the songs of Zion with mirth; that is, with gladness, joy and pleasure. The command itself was like pouring salt on a wound or adding insult to injury. They replied by asking, “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” They were clear that these were the Lord’s songs, meant to be sung in sacred settings and on sacred ground. Indeed, how could they sing God’s songs in a foreign land? The truth of the matter is that the Israelites had no one to blame but themselves for their situation.

In our churches today, we often find that we have been placed in captivity and have no voice to sing songs of praise to God. It’s like being in a strange land. We want to sing but we have hung up our instruments and have no voice. Our hearts tell us that we are not at a place in our relationship with God where songs of worship and praise can be sung. Our eyes fill with tears as we long for our homeland, that is, the forgiveness of our sins. Like the Israelites, we find ourselves in deep sorrow with no one to blame but ourselves.

The writer of the 137th Psalm laments and asks for retribution against his enemies. But by verses 6-7 of the 138th Psalm, the writer recognizes that retribution never satisfies. He says, “6 Though the Lord is on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar. 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.”

Even in deep sorrow, the Lord makes provisions for our salvation.

Be Blessed!

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