Study from God’s Word… Zion sings in exile – Psalms 102, 106, 123, & 137 … Passage for Reflection: Psalm 137: 1 – 4 … NIV 1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. 2 There on the poplars we hung our harps, 3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" 4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?
My Journal for Today: Hey, Christian! … Have you ever felt way low going to church, with some heavy burden on your heart? Maybe you didn’t even want to go to church because you were so despondent over your circumstances; but you went out of obligation. And when you got to church the worship music began; and perhaps, like I have done on occasion, you were lifted up, out of your pits of despair, by the words and melodies of hope coming from the hymns or the praise songs.
And here, in reading today’s devotional from Dr. Smith, were the people of God in Babylonian captivity, at their lowest point ever; and their captives were even taunting them to sing some of their joyous Hebrew songs. It was “rub it in” time for the people of Babylon. And the disobedient, recalcitrant children of Israel certainly didn’t want to sing; but as we read in Psalm 137 and the other songs I was led to read today and yesterday, God’s children were even inspired to write and sing laments to God, … songs which probably were like African-Americans coming up with their own laments in the 19th century, which we later knew of as “the Blues.”
The Blues, as a musical genre, was popularized in the early 20th century from right here in Memphis, TN, by the famous W. C. Handy; and it has become an indigenous brand of American music, especially for African-Americans; and even today for musicians and singers like B. B. King, who also call Memphis home base. Even Elvis, also a local MidSouth legend, sang a lot of the blues; and his life certainly ended in captivity to drugs and despair.
Singing the blues was – and is – a way for those who were down and out to express their lament; and the Hebrew nation certainly needed to do that, recognizing their sin and singing of their longing to be freed from the captivity of the Babylonians. And I, very personally, have learned that when I’m feeling down-and-out, one of the best ways for me to have God lift me upward and outward is for me to devote some devotional time to listening to some of my favorite Christian praise songs, which I now have stored strategically on my Ipod for ready access. Maybe you have some inspiring Christian music which you use to let God lift you up when you’re down. If you haven’t tried that as a method of dealing with down-hearted moments, I would highly recommend this form of personal worship and devotional time.
I have found this way of “singing the blues,” so to speak, to be a powerful way to surrender my attitude, in humility, to God; and, as the Apostle Peter wrote (in 1st Pet. 5: 7), “… casting all your cares on God because He cares for you.”
My Prayer for Today: Lord, when I hear music honoring You, I am lifted out of the pits and upwards with the hope of Glory. Amen