1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
4 How shall we sing the Lord‘s song in a strange land?
Have you ever been to the place where you just don’t feel like you can lift your heart to praise Him? The writer of this psalm feels that way. They have been carried away captive, and long for Zion, the mountain of God and the place of worship. They have been taken captive because of their continuous turning to sin and forgetting their God. Now they realize what they have done, and are filled with grief.
I have felt that way. Walking in the trails of Pure Life Ministries one summer day I felt that way. I landed at PLM because my sins had overtaken me, and I had to do something drastic. I had lost my job, my marriage was in shambles, I was kicked out of my church and my ministry was gone. It was like going into captivity
On the trail that day I was listening to the account of a missionary in India who had given into lust and was on the brink of an affair. He had driven to the women’s house and parked outside. Then the Holy Spirit spoke into His heart and asked him if he realized how this would affect his marriage, his church, his ministry and all those around him who supported him.
It hit me hard. I dropped to knees right in the middle of that trail and wept out loud, knowing that I had never taken that into account. I stayed there for about 15 minutes and headed back to the dorm. The next morning, around 3 am, I knelt before the cross and recited Psalm 51 as my prayer. God changed my heart that day. The captivity was over.
My heart lept within me. The spirit of praise returned to me, and the rest of my time there was filled with thanksgiving instead of remorse. Repentance worked just the way it was meant to.
If you find yourself in a place of deep remorse, and are captivated by your sin, repent. That is the only way the spirit of praise will return.
5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
6 If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
God must be first. If something else is, you must work in your spirit to enthrone Him again. If you do not you will see your joy and peace erode slowly. It will be replaced by satisfaction with less, and that tendency will grow within you until you are happy there. Is hard to get back when you get here. Your pride has brought you to a place where you think the place you are now is the best place to be. Pride controls you not God.
I know about this because I have been there. I only overcame because of 8 months at PLM and a loving, faithful wife who has stuck by me. I could not have done it on my own. You need a trusted friend or counselor to help you remember what God is truly like and what His blessings are like. You have forgotten!
7 Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.
8 O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
Have you ever watched the movie “Ever After” it is one of my wife’s favorites. A retelling of the Cinderella story, very different from previous scripts, it stars Drew Barrymore as Cinderella. The harsh treatment by her step-mother and step-sister is as bad as in any of them, and she is left to suffer at the hands of a ruthless man. But in the end her step-mother walks in thinking she is due an honor and in horror finds that her step-daughter now holds the rule over her. Drew Barrymore, the queen, makes a simple statement. She says “I will speak for her. May the same treatment be given to her that she has given to me”. With that, the mother in law and her sisters are banished to the laundry room.
Here, the same thing takes place. May these kingdoms receive the same treatment they have given the Israelites. This should be our attitude toward our enemy. While we are waiting for God to rescue us, and He will, we trust in Him through all attacks. We know He is our sword and shield, He is our refuge and fortress, He is our strong tower. There is no enemy that can defeat us, for He is our victory. So we pray for our enemy. We do not return hurt for hurt. We return love and help. We rise above the turmoil. God will take care of them and turn our captivity into theirs.
9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
I have much wonder about this verse. Why would the psalmist say these should be happy that dash little ones against stones. This is a barbarous act that happened in warfare in those days. There should be no happiness in that, especially that the psalmist would recommend. But it is a warning to them, not an approval.
You see, the psalmist knew they would receive the same recompense for what they do to the Israelites, those called and blessed of the Lord. In the end, Israel will have the victory and they will be vanquished. The captors better take their happiness now, because here will be none in the end. With this verse, He encourages them to be happy now, because it will not last.
The enemies that rise against you better take their happiness now in the torment they bring your way, and they usually do. My wife has a tormentor in her work place. This person takes great joy in belittling my wife and talking behind her back, in blaming her for her own mistakes, and holding up work to make it look like my wife is slowing things down. It is maddening to hear her come home day after day with the same story. But my wife has been moved now, and the tormentor is silenced. There is no more happiness in her. She has been put in her place. My wife is in the happy seat now. Wait out your enemy. God will take care off it!