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?
Imagine how they felt. For four hundred years, ever since King Solomon finished building the grand Temple in Jerusalem, the Israelites had enjoyed free and rich worship in their land. David had successfully defeated most of Israel’s enemies, he had made all the preparations for the Temple and the worship to take place there, and under Solomon’s reign the kingdom flourished.
On the day of the Temple dedication many years ago, hundreds of Levitical singers joined with 120 trumpeters in the Temple courts as they made themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord: “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (2 Chron. 5:13). And ever since then, elaborate rituals of worship according to God’s instructions took place there for the benefit of all the people.
Yet false worship from the pagan nations crept into the land, and as a direct result of this terrible breach of God’s law, the kingdom split in two. Even then, faithful Israelites were able to worship God freely, and regular Temple practices continued.
That all changed in the early sixth century bc. Nebuchadnezzar swept into the land, and after several defeats and deportations, he finally destroyed Jerusalem, including its magnificent Temple. The Israelites now found themselves in a strange land. They no longer had their own culture, protected from foreign influence. They no longer had the Ark of the Covenant, their altars, or their Temple. They no longer had their worship.
Imagine how they felt. How could they take up their lyres and sing the songs they once sang in the splendor of that great city? How could they worship their God according to his instructions when they didn’t have the tools he required? How could they rejoice in his steadfast love when they were surrounded by their enemies? They were captives in Babylon; they had no reason to sing.
Instead, they sat down and wept.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Scott Aniol