They hung their harps on a willow tree
So longing to be set free
There dwelling in a foreign place
Heads now hung in their disgrace
They had long neglected right
Now this had become their plight
The captors jeered, “why don’t you sing?
But no song would their hearts bring
They were longing for their homeland
On this then they will stand
We’ll sing again when we’re gathered home
Until that time, our hearts just cry “Shalom”
For us the enemy mocks and jeers
Our eyes at times are filled with tears
Our hearts still long to praise
Jesus our Lord the one who saves.
One day we will worship, Holy, Holy, Holy
With all the angels and saints in glory
Healing of wounds and joy unspeakable
Today let us rest looking forward to that which is inconceivable.
The Israelites found themselves exiled and living in a foreign land. A land whose people did not worship the Lord God of Israel. A land where they had no temple in which to worship the Lord their God.
They longed for the city of Jerusalem as they knew it. They wanted to hear the bleating of the lambs reminding them their sins were forgiven. They yearned to hear the temple singers as they sung their songs of worship to their God.
But now they are far away from their homeland in a strange country with strange customs. They were tempted by foods that were forbidden for Jews. They were tempted by pleasures forbidden by Yahweh Jehovah.
They were homesick!!! Homesick!! They had hung their harps on the willow tree. A picture of the sadness they felt. The instruments silent that had once brought praise and joy as they worshipped their God. The Israelites were living in the land of heartbreaking memories. Circumstances had brought them to this place. The last verses in this psalm speak of great loss and overwhelming grief. Jerusalem had been destroyed. Their babies had been dashed by stones. Singing was the last thing they wanted to do in front of their enemies.
Yet there was hope! God had promised to bring them back into the land they loved.
One day in God’s time they would return and once again be able to take up their harps and sing praises in worship.
But until that day came, they would stand up firm in their resolve to not follow the world, the culture, and the paths leading away from God. They would speak “Shalom” or pray for the peace of Jerusalem to one another.
God will bring justice to the injustice. He will restore what the locust have eaten away. We will rejoice in the promises given.
Hold fast!! The new Jerusalem is coming, and we will have a new song to sing. Look up; keep your focus. Soon we will see “The Lights of That City”