“How” Shall We Sing
by Impact Church
Psalms 137:4 How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
Contextually, we see the Israelites perplexed and in a place unfit for their spiritual pedigree. After nearly two years of Babylonian besiegement, the worst has come to the most envied nation of the world. Continued sin and cold hearted rebellion has Jerusalem’s inhabitants exiled 500 miles away, confined to a heathen city steeped in paganism and idolatry.
And, as if the shame of captivity was insufficient judgment, the heathen required them to harmonize on the delightful songs of Zion and their King! (For worship, melodies and instrumentation from the Jewish Temple were known universally and universally unmatched.)
Thus the lament, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”
Not, “how can we sing with a broken heart?”, but rather a question crafted and framed with incomprehensible grace came (unauthorized version of course!),”How shall we then sing from this strange and painful place? Not “can”, mind you, but “how” shall we sing. So, in some new way, we must, and will, sing! Yes, even in tears we will sing! For even in our backslidings, You never left us! Even in our abject worst, You walked with us! You gave promises and made covenant with us. And even in our well-deserved judgments, You cannot deny Yourself, nor excuse Yourself from bringing us to a glorious destiny! So even though this is uncharted territory, and this is painfully awkward in every way, we’ll return to our roots …and sing!”
Say what you will about Israel’s foolishness concerning sin and disobedience. They experienced what was prophesied, and divinely received what they deserved. But more importantly, we have to believe God’s loving covenant anchored them, even in unspeakable tragedy.
So what do we say to the circumstances of our own condition? Are we immune to tribulations? Are we born in spiritual greenhouses, kept from the desert’s scorching noonday sun and bone-chilled nights? No, of course not! Have we sometimes missed the mark? Have we allowed self-imposed captivities to come through our undisciplined flesh? Yes, most likely we’ve been there!
But even with all that, we have a Savior! And His shed blood remains our constant source of safety! And with His everlasting covenant etched in our very being, we worship in our weakness! We sing in our sadness! We triumph in our trials! We overcome Satan’s treachery by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony!
So it follows that songs rising from sorrow are actually not that strange at all! It’s simply the residue of a faith connected with eternal promises. So sing we will, with a courageous confidence born only of One who reigns now and forever.
And now we know why the caged bird sings. It’s because the bird, regardless of the cage, is still a bird! And singing is his natural element; yes, his happy place!
And moreover, it’s likely he’s heard the door hinge creak!
Blessings to Impact Church as it chooses to bring redemptive melodies to the dryness of this present age!