Summary: This shows how sin can rob one of his song...
THE BURDEN OF THE BACKSLIDDER
Psalms 137:1-4 W. Max Alderman
INTRODUCTION: This is the record of the Jews in their Babylonian captivity. While back in Jerusalem they were free, but now they are in bondage. They once enjoyed the blessings of the land and the blessings of the Lord, but now they are enduring burdens. Their happiness has turned to bitterness and their freedom has turned to slavery. Why is this so? It is not because of their weakness, but instead it is because of their wickedness. The place called Babylon always leads to barrenness, bitterness and brokenness. Babylon is identified with confusion going all the way back to when Nimrod built the tower of Babel. The only people who were truly happy in Babylon were the Babylonians. The Jews were being chastened by the Lord for their wickedness as a nation. As they sat under the shade among the willows, next to the river, they could not help but reflect on the home that they had been taken from. For this reason they could not play their harps.
I. THE SADNESS THEY COULD NOT SHAKE: Psalms 137:1-2
Israel And Judah Go Into Captivity
Because of Israel and Judah’s spiritual decline (2 Kings 17:7- 23), the Lord allowed them to be taken into captivity. The Assyrians took Israel captive, from which it seems that they never returned (2 Kings 17-18), and Judah was taken into captivity by the Babylonians (2 Kings 18-25).
Judah Returns From Captivity
After 70 years in captivity, Judah returned home in three stages. The first group was led home by Zerubbabel (Ezra 1- 6). The second group was led home by Ezra (Ezra 7-10). The third group was led back by Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1-13).
A. There Was Misery in Their Hearts
While in Babylonian captivity, the Jews could only reflect back to the reason that God permitted them to enter into captivity, and it was because of their spiritual decline. While the Jews were under the rule of the judges, there were at least 13 apostasies where the nation of Israel continued their sinning against God. God judged them severely during this time. They continued to sin even after they were given kings to rule over them. Many of their kings would turn to and worship other gods. With this knowledge of their sinning being fixed in their hearts, they could only be miserable. They certainly did not think that they had anything to sing about. Furthermore, the taunting by the Babylonians to get them to sing was only a mockery as they were reminded that there was a special place in the temple for their singing and because of sin, they had forfeited that place. Those who are out of the will of the Lord certainly lose their song. Have you lost yours?
B. There Was the Memory of Their Home
Later in Biblical history, we are told the parable of the lost son. There is every indication that the prodigal son soon reached a state of misery while feeding the swine. Once he came to himself, he said that he would arise and go to his father. He certainly must have been “homesick” and was determined to do something about it. These Jews who were far removed from their homes could only think about the place that they had called home. This brought the kind of sadness that caused them to hang their harps on the willows without a song.
To the backslidden church member, there is a great loss that comes to not being plugged into your church home. I can only imagine how awful it would be for me to be removed from my church family because of sin. I, also, can only imagine how it would be for me to be plugged into the church, but just going through the motions because of sin.
1. This Caused their Hearts to be Sad
Sin will make the heart sad. There is a wonderful joy that causes continual rejoicing when one is thinking upon the things of God. Philippians 4:4-9 teaches us this:
4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.