אֵיךְ–נָשִׁיר אֶת-שִׁיר-יְהוָה: עַל, אַדְמַת נֵכָר
“Oh! How can we sing the song of the Lord, in this unrecognizable land?” (Psalm 137:4, translation Elwell)
Having hung their lyres upon the willows, the signers could not sing on foreign soil; in mourning, they could not raise their voices but to weep.
For all their song, singing, and performance, they could not see past their condition and circumstance. Was God not also with them in Babylon? Was He confined by the boarders of Israel?
Their captors wanted song. They should have praised the God who delivered them into captivity right before their captors! Why?
As surely as He delivered them into the hands of captivity, in that same prophetic word of judgment was the word of deliverance: some seventy years off.
It took men of faith like Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zechariah, as examples, to heed the words of Isaiah and Jeremiah while in captivity, to wait for that time, His time, and stand up in faith to act upon God’s promise.
The singers were still God’s covenant people, but in correction. So often our circumstance overtakes His promise, and our weeping, His Word.
Psalm 137 isn’t a codified psalm of sulking, but a correction leading us to Psalm 138, and the promises contained therein:
“I will praise you with all my heart, in the presence of the mighty I will sing praises to You … All the Kings of the earth will praise You … Though I walk amid trouble, You revive me … The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. Your lovingkindness, Lord, endures forever. Do not abandon the work of Your hands.” Psalm 138
While the Potter is working the clay by the spinning of the wheel, He never takes His hands from the clay. He is always working it, touching it until the clay has reached His desired form.
Correction comes to all of us who are His children, but in the correction is the moment of restoration as well (Heb. 12:7-11). Until that moment, sing in His correction, even before the company of tormentors; and as they mock, praise, for they do not know the day or hour of your release.
He will fulfill His purpose for your life, and in every moment, until that moment, His hand is upon you. A song of captivity is not mourning for the circumstance, but reverence for the King in whose presence you continue to dwell.
Be well. Shalom.