READING: Ezra 4-6, Psalm 137
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: The anguish of the exiles must have been deep. Scholars differ about the timing of Psalm 137 (whether during the exile or soon after the Hebrews' return), but the expressed memories of the Hebrews were indeed difficult:
Psalm 137:1-4 By the rivers of Babylon—there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. There we hung up our lyres on the poplar trees, for our captors there asked us for songs, and our tormentors, for rejoicing: “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” How can we sing the Lord’s song on foreign soil?
As the writer of the Word Commentary has summarized this text, “The grief of the exiles was much more than homesickness. As they sat in a passive attitude of mourning beside a tree-lined canal, they were haunted by memories of Zion—bittersweet memories of festivals and fellowship with God and with believer, and tortured memories of the ruins to which God’s earthly home and Judah’s capital had been reduced.” They remembered the way their city had been, and they knew it was their rebellion that had led to its destruction. Yes, God would graciously restore them, but not without their having paid this painful price.
I am reminded again of the cost of sin. God loves us so much that He forgives us — but He also loves us so much that He sends us into exile at times to turn us back to Him. I read this text, and I never want to make a choice that would allow me for a while to only look backward at better days of God’s blessings. So today I pray:
- God, keep me from sin that would lead to exile.
- Make me weep over even the potential loss I would face if I were to choose to do wrong — so that I will always choose to do right.
PRAYER: “Father, hear my prayers listed here.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Haggai 1-2