Summary: Have you lost your song in a foreign land or ’far country’? The Jewish people did in Babylon...this message offers helps on how to return...(the audio has much more than does the manuscript)
Singing In a Foreign Land
* Our Psalm today is written by some unknown writer toward the end of the Jewish captivity. It appears to be a report of the feeling of the Jewish people at this time. In it, we can discover some common truths that we have with the Jewish people. Let’s read our scripture together.
* Very few things exciting us like a song. Music has been called the universal language and speaks to the very heart of people. Music has the ability to touch us in places that very few things have the ability to touch us. In fact, music shows up in some strange places. We hear it in public, private, and at the house even in the showers. In short, people generally love music and love to sing. But what happens when that song which seems to be berthed be in the soul & heart of an individual is snuffed out? That is the question then is ask today.
* Verse 4 asks this question which each of us can understand. How can we sing the Lord’s song on foreign soil? To understand the full meaning of this verse requires us to remember the context in which it was written.
* Most of us recognize Biblical names such as, Saul, David, and Solomon. These three are the last three Kings of the Jewish nation called Judah when it was a unified nation. If you recall, Solomon built this extravagant temple, the temple of god, along with many other fine palaces. In 922 BC Solomon passed away and his son, Rehoboam, came to the throne. The taxes which Solomon had levied on his people had been huge, but somehow the people felt they were fair. When making the determination of how to rule, Rehoboam, consulted with his father’s counselors. Those old and was counselors gave Rehoboam the same words they had given was King Solomon. That was, to continue things the way someone had been running them, however, Rehoboam had some young men his own age who he asks for counsel. These men council the king that now was the time to raise the taxes and show people who was boss. And this is what he did. The reaction of the people was swift and certain. In the northern part of the country a man named Jeroboam led the northern people, 10 tribes, to secede from Judah and form a separate nation called Israel. The result was that there were now two nations both of whom were decidedly weaker. The old adage is always true, “united we stand and divided we fall”.
* It took 200 years for the weakness of this circumstance to be taken advantage of. In 722, the Assyrians under Sargon came, defeated the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and took them into captivity. Half of those who were taken would be destroyed in genocide or through the absorption in culture. They were gone.
* It was only 120 to 140 later that a powerful King name Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon defeated the Southern Kingdom of Judah and took them into captivity & bondage. It is important to know and remember that in the Babylonian defeat, Solomon’s temple was obliterated (except for one wall). (Read 2 Chronicles 36:15-21) Here’s the point; when God’s people evokes God’s wrath, they were completed defeated to be point of being demoralized. In some books, you’ll discover a word picture of men’s bodies strewn around while women were connect by a rope run through the rings which had been placed in their noses. It was an awful sight.
* It is probably getting close to 70 years in captivity when the Psalmist pens the words of our text asking, “How can we sing in foreign land?”
* For the next few minutes let’s consider the ‘foreign land’, what it is, what it does, and what we can do.
1. The Types of Foreign Land – For me, just hearing the word ‘foreign land’ evokes a sense of fear. As a child, my fear was that God would call me to go to ‘lower slobovia’ to be a missionary where I would inadvertently break the law (because I didn’t know the laws of the land), be place in a dungeon type of cell, and never again to see home or heard from again.
a. Certainly a foreign land is exactly what it sounds like, another country or a country that is away from home.
b. I am reminded of the foreign land which Luke 15 calls the far country, the distant land, or ‘far away from home.’ When you follow the journey of the son we come to know as the prodigal, you discover that very little good comes in the far country. The good you can glean goes something like this; ‘pride comes before the fall’, ‘you can’t make it by yourself’, and ‘in the far country is the place to come to your senses.’