Psalm 137:1 “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.” It has been appropriately called the “Song of the Captive.” It is a song about Israel in exile. It is a song not only for them, but for us, because we are still in exile.
We live in a broken world. The promise Jesus made to John on the Island of Patmos is a beautiful promise but can sometimes be hard to believe. “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God–He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:2–4) Sometimes it can be hard to believe in no more death, when all you see is death. It can be hard to believe the crying will stop when your child is an addict, or is missing, or is hurting. It can be hard to believe in no more crying while going through a divorce. Verse 2 and 3 says on the willows there we hung up our lyres. The music has stopped. They cannot bring themselves to sing. The joy is gone. It can be hard to sing blessed assurance Jesus is mine when the bank forecloses on our house. It can be hard to sing He Lives when someone we love, and treasure, die. It can be hard to return the tithe when you know all the bills you have to pay. At different times in your life you will find yourself, like Israel in exile, weeping beside the waters of Babylon. Sometimes the promise of new heavens and a new earth is so different than our reality we can find ourselves weeping by the waters of Babylon and saying as the Psalmist did: “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:2). What is causing you to weep today? What has caused you to hang up your lyre? Maybe you’ve given up on the ministry, or on the marriage, or on God.
The good news is this story did not end for Israel in Psalm 137. God eventually rescued Israel from Babylon, and you need to know God will eventually rescue us from Babylon too. A mighty voice declares, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!:” (Revelation 18:2) Hallelujah, very soon the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2) and will destroy the brokenness of Babylon. God promises I will make those who win the victory pillars in the temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, that comes down out of heaven from my God. I will also write on them my new name. (Revelation 3:12).
Babylon will not reign for much longer. So don’t hang up your lyres. Don’t stop singing. Tears will fall while living in Babylon. But DO NOT GIVE UP! Don’t let Babylon beat you up, or keep you down. You may be weeping today, you will be singing songs of victory tomorrow. Christ has crushed the serpent’s head. Victory is ours, because victory is His.