Psalm 137

How Shall We Sing the LORD’s Song?

1By the waters of Babylon,

there we sat down and wept,

when we remembered Zion.

2On the willows there

we hung up our lyres.

3For there our captors

required of us songs,

and our tormentors, mirth, saying,

“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How shall we sing the LORD’s song

in a foreign land?

The Psalm speaks of the Babylonian captivity. The songs of Zion cannot be sung by those enslaved to the enemy. Babylon is life outside of Christ. It represents slavery to sin. It represents what sin does to us. It enslaves. It prevents real joy. It settles for second best.

Not everyone in Babylon was enslaved in those spiritual ways. The Book of Daniel shows us at least four men who were able to sing the songs of Zion even while living in the midst of the enemy. They were enslaved physically, but not spiritually. They were bound in the body but not in spirit.

“This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through …” the old southern Gospel song says. The Lord has put a new song in our mouths and praises to our God on our lips. We are filled with a glorious and inexpressible joy because we are receiving the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls. But we are not home yet. And we hope for something far better than what we have already.

Even though we do not have the full reception of all that God has promised us does not mean that we cannot sing the songs of Zion now. We can sing with great joy even now, even though we are plagued by our own sins, the sins of others, persecution, opposition, doubt, ignorance, pain … . If we have to be home in order to sing the songs of Zion then we will never sing while in this life.

But we are commanded to sing and we are told that we can sing and we have found that there is much that gives us real joy and peace and comfort and hope. How can we NOT sing? Our longing to be home and to be free from the sins that so easily beset us is no reason to deny the great joys that are ours because of all that God, in Christ has already done and what He has promised He will do. How can we not sing the songs of Zion?