Psalm 137

Evening Devotion October 25th

Everytime I read this psalm I find myself singing the Boney M hit song – By the rivers of Babylon. Of course it came from this psalm …. and here are the lyrics

By the rivers of babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered zion.

By the rivers of babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered zion.

When the wicked
Carried us away in captivity
Required from us a song
Now how shall we sing the lords song in a strange land

When the wicked
Carried us away in captivity
Requiering of us a song
Now how shall we sing the lords song in a strange land

Let the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart
Be acceptable in thy sight here tonight

Let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts
Be acceptable in thy sight here tonight

By the rivers of babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered zion.

By the rivers of babylon, there we sat down
Ye-eah we wept, when we remembered zion.

By the rivers of babylon (dark tears of babylon)
There we sat down (you got to sing a song)
Ye-eah we wept, (sing a song of love)
When we remember zion. (yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah)

By the rivers of babylon (rough bits of babylon)
There we sat down (you hear the people cry)
Ye-eah we wept, (they need their God)
When we remember zion. (ooh, have the power)

Imagine now the situation when the psalm was first written. The people of God are exiled in Babylon, far from their homeland – the land of God’s promise. How do they sing the songs of Zion while they are in exile?  How can words of hope and joy fill their mouths when they are so far from that in which they had found their hope and joy? In a way, that’s our situation too. We come to salvation in Christ, there is a new song in our heart but then we find that we are still in this messy old world – do we lose the song? Should we lose it? By no means! – to use a really good Pauline expression. No, we are in the already even if it is not-yet. The Kingdom HAS come even if we don’t seem to see it. The glory of the Lord is apparent even when we are blind to it.

On the day of my ordination I was really struggling with the whole issue of God’s call on my life. Was this it? I did not want my ordination to be merely a ceremony or a rite of passage. I took myself off to a lake nearby and prayed like I had never prayed before. I called out to God to speak to me, to give me an answer. Nothing happened. I opened my tear streaked eyes and saw two trees in front of me – well, it was one tree really. Perhaps it was the tears, perhaps it was a vision but there seemed to be two almost identical trees in front of me. And then I knew – there is the “real” and there is the “reality”. One is real and it will pass away, the other is also real but it will be forever. This world will pass away but there is already another world that will be forever.

My ordination that night was incredible. I heard the words of the Moderator but it was the whisper of God that remained in my heart. I felt the hands of the Presbyters as they laid hands on me but today it is the touch of God that I remember. Real and reality. And so I sing the songs of Zion with joy and hope in my heart, for while it might seem that I am in exile, I really am at home in the Kingdom.   



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