|“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and |
wept when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars we hung our harps.”
We don’t know who from the Babylonian captivity of Jerusalem wrote the words in the Scripture above. The Bible tells us that the walls of Jerusalem had been torn down, the temple burned, and all the articles of worship used there carried away to Babylon. We also know that this enemy abducted the chief priest and others who worked in the temple.
All of the people mourned at the loss of their homeland and their beloved temple. But, none mourned as much as those who had prepared for rituals in the temple and daily served and led in worship to Jehovah, the One True God.
We hear their heavy hearts in this statement above. They had lost all they had known and loved, including their music. Their hearts simply could no longer sing the songs they once knew, so they hung up their harps.
What did the Babylonians require of these Jewish exiles? They probably served as slaves in whatever capacity the enemy could conjure up. And, under these wicked taskmasters, the exiles could no longer worship freely, or with joy, as they had in Jerusalem.
Tell me, has the Lord asked you to “hang up your harp” at least for a season? Has a twist of fate taken your familiar and gifted service from you? Have the people you served moved on without you? Has your family left the nest? Have they given your beloved job to someone younger? Have you had to trade your familiar home with its cozy kitchen for retirement living?
Has God asked you, by this unwanted development in your life, to serve Him in another role—one for which you feel totally unprepared or ill-equipped? Sometimes God takes us away from the familiar so that we might learn a hard lesson from Him.
Consider Moses, who grew up in the palace in Egypt, but was forced to flee at the age of forty into the desert to tend sheep for another forty years. We know that eventually God called Moses out of the desert and back to Egypt to negotiate with the king for the release of the entire nation of God’s chosen people. God had a reason for taking Moses’ “harp” from him.
We learn in Psalm 126 that the Jewish people taken captive into Babylon returned to Jerusalem after seventy years. Once back in their homeland, God again filled their mouths with songs. Psalm 126:1-2 tells us:
“When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.”
Once again, God again made use of the harps that for seventy years had hung on those poplars. He also may allow you to take up your “harp” again. Or, He may teach you to play and sing to a different instrument. But, we know that God does all things well, and though you may not sing the songs of joy you once did, He will again make music through your life if you allow Him to make the choice!