September 16

The Joy of Worshipping Christ

“How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!” (Psalm 137:4-6)

What’s the news today; hurricanes, floods, wildfires, political conflicts and competition, wars, sports headlines? How does the world look to you? Do you glance at the headlines and then look away (as I do)? Or are you following particular “stories” and events diligently? I think most people will agree that the world is a mess. It’s always been a chaotic and will continue to be so until Jesus Christ returns and God wipes it away for the new earth. (Revelation 21:1) Not only will the Lord give believers a new earth, but new heavens and a new Jerusalem (v. 2). Like the people of Israel exiled in Babylon, we long for our real home where we will be able to enjoy the Lord fully, without opposition.

Psalm 137:3 is probably the source of a scene in “Lord of the Rings; The Twin Towers,” when the hobbits are required to sing a song of their homeland by the enemy King, while their army is being defeated. In the movie, they sing a lament but here “the Chaldeans…insisted not only on having the words of a song repeated to them, but that they should be set to some tune and sung in a manner expressing mirth…which used to be sung in Zion in the temple…this demand they made either out of curiosity, that they might know something of the temple songs and music they had heard of; or rather as jeering at and insulting the poor Jews in their miserable and melancholy circumstances…The spiritual songs of Zion are the songs of electing, redeeming, calling, pardoning, and justifying grace; which natural men neither understand, nor can learn, but scoff at and despise.” Perhaps Israel’s enemies were asking God’s people to sing God’s songs to their idols. * Like Nehemiah, the Israelites and we might say, “Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” ((Nehemiah 2:3)

But our faces don’t have to be sad, especially on the Sabbath, when we have opportunities to worship with our Christian family in our churches. Unlike the Israelites who had to work at remembering God in a foreign land, today most believers are able to come together in a place built for the Lord’s exaltation on this day, and many others. We don’t have to worry about depression that goes so deep as to cause a musician’s right hand to forget how to strum its instrument or a tongue that will not work because we have forgotten God. We have no reason to despair and no excuse to feel guilty or negligent. Our lament needs only be for our sins, the likely cause of our gloom, but then we remember Christ, and even our mourning over sin is turned to confession, repentance, and joy. In Psalm 137, the people wept when they remembered their holy city of Zion, where the Lord dwelt with them (v. 1). They feared that they would forget the Lord (v. 6), but asked God to remember them, by remembering Jerusalem’s day of destruction (v. 7).

Today, will you remember Jesus Christ, what he has done, and his loving sacrifice? Will worship be your highest joy today?

* JohnGill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Commentary on Psalm 137:3,

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