“At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. Nebuchadnezzar took [Jehoiachin the king of Judah] prisoner in the eighth year of his reign… and carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the Lord, which Solomon king of Israel had made. He carried away all Jerusalem and all the officials and all the mighty men of valor, 10,000 captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon. The king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the chief men of the land he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.” 2 Kings 24:10,12-15
“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
How hard is it to sing when all seems lost? When a marriage is stressed to breaking and appears beyond repair, when rebellion or bitterness has wedged vitriol into a relationship, when disease wracks the body or mind of a loved one? Judah’s Babylonian captors, after wrenching them from everything they valued in the world- comforts of home, place of worship, treasures, identity through work, and pride, mockingly demanded a song, and the psalmist replied by pen with a beautiful dirge.
Where am I languishing in complaint? Are there circumstances that trigger despondency, criticism, whining, self-pity, that can instead prompt a song to the Lord, Who wondrously reigns over all? Might He be training me to look to Him in every shadow, every heartache, every impossibility, and trust Him? He is worthy of my confidence and music and praise all the time, not just when my life goes as I would prescribe. As we turn our eyes from self to Jesus, He Who authors our faith composes for us songs and loosens our lips to sing. (Hebrews 12:2)
God my Maker, You are my strength, and song, and salvation. Fill my mouth with Your song in sad night as well as glad day. May I ever sing unto Thee, for Your praise. (Job 35:10; Psalm 77:6; 118:14-15)