when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
Joyful hearts give birth to joyful singing. It is nearly impossible to sing with joy when you are burdened down with dread, discouragement, and despair. Because of unfaithfulness to the LORD the Jewish people are taken into captivity and carried off to Babylon. To make matters worse their captors demand that they sing one of the songs of Zion; they, however, have already hung "For Sale" signs on their harps. Captive hearts lose their desire to sing.
The absence of singing in a Christian's life indicates an area of personal captivity or spiritual problem. A sinful attitude or action steal joy and prohibit singing. Oh, we can go through the motions. We are good at that! But, we know when the song is missing from our hearts. And, we generally know when the song went missing.
A missing song alerts me to hidden or overlooked sin in my heart and life. I must, as soon as I I'm aware of my lack of joy, come quickly to the Light and ask Him to search my heart and thoughts, and surface the hidden sin in my life so that I can experience cleansing, forgiveness, and a new song.
The presence of joy in a believer's life presents the gospel to those around them. When lifted up out of "the horrible pit and miry clay" the Psalmist sings a new song. Look what happens next: "Many will see it and fear, and will put their trust in the LORD" (Psalm 40:1-3). Joyless Christians poorly communicate an accurate view of God.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
- How does affliction affect the Psalmist physiologically?
- What is his view of God and how does his view of God sustain him?
- How does the subject matter of this Psalm apply to God's people today?
- How does distress affect the Psalmist and how does he respond?
- Whose role is it to punish those who speak deceitfully?
- What happens to the exiles as they recall Zion (Jerusalem and surrounding areas)?
- What do their captors demand from the exiles?
- Why couldn't they sing?
- What does this tell you about captivity?
- What is one evidence of a person living in spiritual captivity?
- What analogies does Jeremiah use to describe Jerusalem?
- Describe Jerusalem, her priests and people.
- Why has the Lord allowed Jerusalem to be destroyed?
- What are some of the losses that the children of Israel experience?
- What does the enemy accomplish in the streets of Jerusalem?
- Read Proverbs 25:28. What lessons can you take away from Jerusalem's fall that warn us about ruling our own spirit?
Since Jerusalem's fall could serve as a warning to any Christian who does not rule her spirit ask the Lord to show you areas in your life where you are headed toward destruction, areas that keep you from joyful singing. The same thing applies to your church. Ask the Lord to search your heart as does the Psalmist in Psalm 139:23-24.