Series: A New Normal
Lord, we thank you thank, our life is in Your hands and, Lord, that we can trust You. No matter what comes our way, we can trust You. And, Lord, we pray that You would just speak to our hearts as we study Your Word. Lord, speak to us at the point of our need and help us to do what You say do; Lord, that we wouldn’t be forgetful hearers, but we’d be effectual doers. You have said in Your Word that, ”If you know these things, you’re blessed if you do them.” Lord, we want to do them, in Jesus’ name, amen.
On October 1, 1935, a baby girl was born. Her name was Julia Elizabeth Wells. She was born into kind of a poor family. She had kind of a rough upbringing. When she was 8 years old, she started to sing, and her parents really started to notice, ”You have a really good voice.” And she began to take some lessons. And her parents were involved in show business, and they got her involved, and they began to sing together as a family. When this girl was 13 years old, she got to sing for the Royal Family in England, the youngest person to ever get to sing before the Royal Family. Her voice was so unique. She had a 4-octive voice. And it was so clear and had such a beautiful sound. She came to America when she was just a teenager. She got her first job on Broadway when she was 19. And not long after that, she appeared in her first movie. And then, other movies came. And perhaps you have seen this lady in her most famous movie.
Julie Andrews. Now she didn’t start out Julie Andrews. She started out Julia Elizabeth Wells. But we know her as Julie Andrews. And she, from that time in her life, was singing and singing and had been singing for decades and blessing and wowing crowds all over the world. And in 1997, when she was in her early 60s, she developed non-cancerous nodules on her vocal chords and she had to have surgery. And she was told that, ”This surgery was routine. It’s no big deal. And you’ll be singing as good as new in six weeks.” Well, six weeks came and six weeks went, and six weeks turned into six months, and six months turned into two years, and two years turned into forever. Julie Andrews never got her voice back. She lost the thing that she loved most, her ability to sing, because she lost her voice in that surgery that didn’t go right. Now she was devastated, as you can imagine. But you know what is more devastating than losing your voice? It’s losing your song.
There are multitudes of people in our world today, in our city, in this auditorium, I dare say, who’ve lost their song. They’ve lost their zest for living, their joy and their gladness in living. Some tragedy has come into their life and that tragedy has stolen away their song, and they just feel like, ”What’s the use? I just want to quit. I just want to give up.” There’s no more song. There’s no more joy. There’s no more gladness.
Such was the case for the people who lived in Jerusalem in 586 BC. See, 586 BC is a key, key date in Bible history, because in 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, and his armies came into the city of Jerusalem. They had had it besieged for a number of months, 18 months if I remember correctly. And, finally, they broke in. And they broke into the walls. And the armies poured in. And they began to kill and rape and pillage and burn. They destroyed the city of Jerusalem. They took Solomon’s temple, Solomon’s beautiful temple and they just wrecked it and ruined it and burned it to the ground. There was nothing left. They took out all the gold and anything of value and they carted it back to Babylon. And they took back thousands of captives as their prisoners and took them back to Babylon. All they left in the broken-down shell of a city, which was once the great city, all they left were the poor people and those that really weren’t of any value to them. They took back everyone with them that they thought they could use. Thousands of captives went back with Nebuchadnezzar to a strange land, to Babylon. And the Bible tells us what was going on in the hearts of these people in Psalm 137. The Scripture says, ”By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst of it, we hung our harps, for there our captors demanded of us songs and our tormentors mirth, gaiety, and gladness, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land?”
These people that had been taken captive away from Jerusalem, seeing their city destroyed and their loved ones, many of them killed and brutalized and horrible things, they had been taken from Jerusalem. They’d been taken to Babylon. And there, sitting there by the rivers of Babylon, really by the Euphrates River, and there were canals that they would dig off of the Euphrates River. So they were sitting, actually, squatting with their elbows on their knees, squatting down, which is the picture in the ancient Near East of mourning. And they’ve been asked to sing, and they can’t. ”How can we sing the LORD’S song in this foreign land?” They had lost their song.
Hey, maybe you’re here today and you’ve lost your song. Living life with no song is no fun. It’s not how God intended. Now we can do that for a little bit of time. But if you are doing it for an extended period of time, life loses all meaning. You get like Elijah the prophet, who said, ”It is enough, O Lord. Take my life. I’m no better than my fathers. I just want to die. I’ve lost my song.”
Hey, what do you do in life when you lose your song? Let me share with you three insights from this great psalm, Psalm 137, three insights to help you get your song back.
Insight number one: When you lose your song, get totally honest with God, totally honest. Now this Psalm, as we go through it, you’re going to see that the psalmist is very honest about what he’s facing, about what he’s feeling, about what’s going on inside his heart. And it’s so critical if you’re going to regain your song, so critical to get honest with God, just brutally honest with God, just totally honest with God – something so many of us don’t like to do. We like to pray safe prayers. We like to pray prayers that we think Well this is an okay prayer. God, you know I can pray this prayer and I’ll get a thumbs-up from God. But I’m not going to open up to the L ord. I’m not going to share with Him what’s really going on inside because He might get mad. That might be an unsafe prayer, so I’m just going to play it close to the vest. You can’t do that.
David, who had his share of difficulties and distresses in his life, spent time in the cave of Adullum hiding out from psycho King Saul, who wanted to kill him, he said this: Psalm 62, verse 8: ”Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us. Selah,” which means pause, hang there, think about that. ”Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart.” Gush it out. Spill it out. Lay it out before the Lord. ”God is a refuge for us.” He’s a safe place. You can share your heart with God.
Now so many of us don’t pour out our hearts to God, and we don’t pour out our hurts to God. You know what we do? We don’t pour it out, we bury it over, we cover it up. We say, ”Well, yeah, that hurt me. This thing happened to me, and that hurt, but I’m just going to cover it over. I’m just going to pretend like it didn’t happen. I’m going to pretend like it didn’t hurt and just go on with life.” But to do that is like burying toxic waste. It’ll come up. You have to deal with it. If you don’t deal with it, you just bury it and say, ”Out of sight, out of mind. I threw a sheet over that problem.” No, you’re going to find out that we have these things called elephants in the living room. And there are elephants in our relationship with the Lord. There’s an elephant there. There’s this big, big hurt in your life. And you throw a sheet over it. And you expect, ”Well, I can’t see it anymore. I put that in the closet. That elephant’s in the closet, so I’m fine with God.” You know, if you have an elephant in your living room and you throw a sheet over him, you’re going to still know he’s there. He’s going to start to stink. He doesn’t just evaporate because you threw a sheet over him. He’s there and he’s going to make a mess. And that’s what happens with our problems.
So let me ask you some questions. When you go to the doctor and you aren’t feeling well, they ask you a zillion questions. You have to fill out this questionnaire about, you know, are you having night sweats? Are you having bleeding in any of your, bodily functions? Are you having this problem? Are you having that problem? It’s all sorts of things that they ask you because they’re trying to figure out what exactly is wrong. So I want to ask you some diagnostic questions today as we look through this point about getting honest with God.
Question number one: Have you experienced a great trauma in your life? These folks had, no doubt, experienced a great, great trauma in their lives; I mean, huge trauma. I dare say it trumps any trauma you’ve ever experienced. They had experienced that because Jerusalem is the holy city. And Jerusalem has been defiled and disgraced, and the temple of God has been just destroyed. The Holy of Holies destroyed, the Ark of the Covenant. You know, when we talk about the Ark of the Covenant, the box, well, whatever happened to that box? Where is it? Is it in a warehouse somewhere in New Jersey? I mean, where is that thing? It was probably destroyed during Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem. Man, they experienced such grief. The whole book of Lamentations – most of us don’t really spend time in Lamentations. We say, ”Lamentations – man that just sounds like a weird book.” Well, you know what that is? That’s Jeremiah writing about the grief in his heart over seeing his city, God’s city, totally destroyed. And the book of Lamentations starts out in the Hebrew with the word alas. There is mourning and there is anguish verse after verse, chapter after chapter in the book of Lamentations as he talks about how the city was destroyed by pagans. And these people not only experienced the destruction of Jerusalem; they experienced people being murdered right before their eyes.
You know what the Babylonians did when they came in? No doubt, they raped women and they had no compassion. They would take little babies and they would throw them on the rocks and smash them in front of the Jews. It was awful. Can you imagine that picture being in your head? Man they experienced tremendous, tremendous trauma. And what does it say? It says, ”They sat down and they wept.”
Now don’t get the idea, when the Scripture says in verse 1 that they wept, that that means one or two tears were coming out. Man, they were bawling. They were pouring out tears. They were wailing and sobbing there at the rivers of Babylon, there at the canals by the Euphrates River. They experienced a great trauma.
Have you experienced a great trauma in your life? Maybe you were abused as a kid. So many people sexually abused as a kid. It’s great trauma. Maybe you were abandoned and your dad wasn’t there for you. You’re growing up. He’s not there. Maybe you experienced betrayal. Maybe your spouse told you, ”I don’t love you anymore. I’ve found someone else.” It’s like a knife in your heart. You experienced great trauma. Man, it hurts. And do you just cover it over, or do you deal with it? Do you sit down and do you weep?
You know what is so wild about weeping? It does something to help us. It’s like a cleansing that comes from just pouring out your heart and weeping before the Lord and letting the tears flow. Hannah did that in the book of 1st Samuel, and she, as she got up off her knees, the Scripture said she felt so much better. Why? She poured out her burden to the Lord, and she poured out her heart to the Lord, that she was barren and she couldn’t have any children. And it just broke her heart. She was experiencing great trauma. The tears help. So have you experienced a great trauma in your life?
Question number two: Have you felt like God has forgotten you? No doubt, these people felt like God had forgotten them. ”Hey, Lord, where were You when the enemy was coming in? Where were You when they were breaking through the walls? God, where were You? Why didn’t You defend Your house, because they came and desecrated Your house and destroyed your house? Where were You, God, when all that was going on? Why didn’t You defend us? God, why did my little baby get smashed on the rocks? Why was my wife raped and killed before my eyes? Why did all this stuff happen, God? Where were You? God, did You forget me? Have you ever felt that God has forgotten you?
David felt that way. David said in Psalm 13, ”How long, O Lord, will You forget me, forever? How long shall You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord, my God. Enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” One translation translates verse 3, ”Give me light in the darkness, lest I die.” That was David, a man after God’s own heart, a man who could pour out his heart to the Lord, a man who knew that no issue is off limits to God.
”I’m not going to have any elephants in my life. I’m pulling all the sheets off. God, this is what I’m dealing with. Here’s the trauma. Here’s the hurt. Where are You, God? Why are You not there for me? Why have You forgotten me?”
Some people who are single and they so desperately want to be married, and they’re praying and praying and praying, ”God, bring me a spouse. Bring me that woman that You have for me. Bring me that man that You have for me.” And day after day, month after month, year after year nobody comes by. ”How long, O Lord, will You forget me – forever?” A woman who desperately wants to have a baby, but she and her husband can’t have a baby. ”How long, O Lord….”
I have a friend of mine. He and his wife so wanted to have a baby. And they had six miscarriages over a 3 year period. Man, my friend, Tye, he said it felt like God was just being cruel to them. ”How long, O Lord. I feel so forgotten. I feel so forsaken.”
And, you know, for the exiles it was really, really bad because in Psalm 42 we also get some insight into how they were feeling. And it says this in Psalm 42: ”My tears have been my food day and night while they say to me, ‘Where is your God?”’ That’s what the Babylonians would say to them. See, because any time that one nation conquered another nation, they felt like, ”Well, our god is bigger than your god. And our god whipped your god.” That’s why in the book of 1st Samuel when the Philistines defeated the Israelites and captured the Ark of the Covenant, they brought the Ark of the Covenant and placed it in the temple of Dagon, their god, to show that Dagon defeated Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews.
And here in Babylon, they worshipped Marduk. They worshiped false gods. And the false gods, obviously, defeated the God of the Jews. And our god is better than your God. And our god is bigger than your God. And where is your God, Jews? And it hurts. And In Psalm 137 the tormentors are laughing at them. ”Hey, sing us one of the songs of Zion. Sing us a happy song. Sing us one of your holy songs, one of the songs that you sang in the temple. You know that destroyed place. Have you seen the temple? You remember the temple after we got done with it,” they would say. Wow! God has forsaken me. God has forgotten me.
Great verse when you feel like God has forsaken you, like God has forgotten you, great verse in Isaiah chapter 49, verses 15 and 16: ”Can a man, can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, God says, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.” God says, ”Every time I look at My hands, I see your name. I’ve inscribed you on the palms of My hands. And you remember those hands have nail scars in them. God will not forget you. God cannot forget you. Your name is engraved in His hands. But we feel that way so often. And you need to tell the Lord that. If you feel forsake, if you feel forgotten, you tell the Lord that. You let that out of your heart.
And then, question number three: Have you given up? Have you given up? Verse 2: ”Upon the willows in the midst of it (of the Euphrates River there, of the canals there) we hung our harps.” We took our harps – actually, lyres are what they played – and we hung them on the trees, on the willow trees.” Why? ”Because I don’t need that anymore. I’m not going to be singing anymore. There’s no song anymore. There’s no gaiety in my heart, there’s no joy, there’s no gladness, none of that. It is over. I quit. I give up.” And they put that, so interesting, in the willow trees.
Have you seen a weeping willow tree? I think we have a picture of it. You know, you can see it’s just a sad-looking tree. You can see why they call it a weeping willow. It’s just kind of hung over. It’s just kind of down. It’s just kind of depressed. It’s a willow tree.
Some of you if we could see inside, we’d see a weeping willow because you’re just hung over, you’re depressed, you’re so sad. There’s no song. You’ve thrown sheets over junk in your life and now the sheets don’t work anymore, and those things are stinking, and you’ve lost your song. I love how the Scripture says that God has made us to be oaks of righteousness, mighty oak trees, not weeping willow trees. Hey, have you given up? Have you hung up your harp?
I think this phrase is credited to Jerry Falwell: ”It’s always too early to quit.” It’s always too early to quit. Say that with me. It’ll be good for you. It’s always too early to quit. It’s always too early to quit. You know how you know that you really belong to Jesus Christ? When you throw in the towel – He throws it back. He won’t let you quit. It’s like, ”Lord, I want to quit. Elijah. Lord, it is enough. Take my life.” ”No, I’m not going to take your life, Elijah. You still have more to do.” Jonah prayed in Jonah chapter 4, ”It is enough, O Lord. Take my life.” ”No, Jonah, I’m not going to take your life. I’m not going to kill you.” You throw in the towel – God throws it back. And you’re like, wow! And God says, ”Hey, get back in the game. Quit giving up.” Galatians 6:9 says this: ”So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” So that’s the first thing. When you’ve lost your song, get totally honest with God.
Number two. Insight number two: Remember the kingdom of God. Now it changes gears a little bit here in verse 5. And the psalmist says, ”If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill.” If I forget you O Jerusalem, Zion is another name for Jerusalem. Another name for Jerusalem is the City of God, the dwelling place of the Most High. Those are all names for Jerusalem. And it speaks of the kingdom of God and the central capital city of the kingdom of God, which is Jerusalem. And the psalmist said, ”I need to remember. I need to remember the city of God. I need to remember the kingdom of God.” And so do you. And so do I.
Listen. A Christian has to remember that he or she is not of this world. You don’t belong to this world. You belong to the kingdom of God, to the city of God. Paul said in Philippians chapter 3 and verse 20: ”For our citizenship is in heaven from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” We’re citizens of heaven. We’re not citizens of this earth. Listen if you know Christ, you have been born again and you’re a twice-born person living in a world of once-born people. And as Peter said, ”You’re a stranger and you’re an alien on this earth because your citizenship is in heaven.” As the old song says, ”This world is not my home; I’m just passing through. My treasures are laid somewhere upon the blue. The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t be at home in this world anymore.” I remember the kingdom of God. Wait a minute. I’m not a citizen of Babylon. That might be where I’m living right now, but I’m a citizen of heaven and need to remember that. A Christian is not of this world. And a Christian is called to shine and sing in this world.
Interesting in verse 4 where the psalmist said, ”How can I sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land?” You know ”I’ve lost my song, Lord, because I’m here in Babylon. And I’m squatting down, and I’m crying my eyes out. How can I possibly sing Your song in this place, in this foreign land?” You know, when you think about it, that’s what we’re called to do. We’re called to live in a foreign land in this world. As citizens of heaven, we’re called to live in this strange land, this foreign land called earth and to sing and to shine for the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s our calling from God, to have a song, to let our light so shine among men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. And, you know, there’s no greater time to shine for Christ and to sing a song that gets peoples’ attention as when you’re hurting, when you’re in Babylon, when everything has been destroyed, when life has been taken out from underneath you and you’re facing a new normal that you don’t want at all. And you’re like, ”This is awful.” And God says, ”Yeah, but this is an opportunity for you. You remember you’re not of this world. You’re citizenship is in heaven. I have you here for a purpose. You be a good soldier. Let your light shine. People are watching right now. Let your light shine.” See, you have to do the first part. You have to get honest with God so you can do the second part. You have to let the tears flow and let the hurt out so you can shine for the Lord.
Paul and Silas, they shined for the Lord in Philippi when they were beaten with rods and they were bloodied and they were put in stocks and they were placed in the, the inner prison. And it says, ”But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise, and the prisoners were listening.” Nothing gets peoples’ attention like you singing the Lord’s song in a foreign land, in a difficult spot, in a new school, in a new season of life, and you’re singing the Lord’s song. And you’re saying, ”I’m called to trust Christ.”
Hey, my address may change on this planet, and things might change in my life, but it never changes that my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. It never changes that my name is engraved on the hands of the Lord. It never changes that my citizenship is in heaven. And God has me here for a reason and for a purpose – to shine and to sing.
One of my favorite people in all the world is Joni Erickson Tada. A couple of years ago I got to meet her and take a picture with Joni Erickson. You know, her story in 1967, just as a teenager, she was in a diving accident and broke her neck. And the break occurred in such a spot that she lost the use of her arms and her legs. And she was devastated, as you can imagine, as you would be, as I would be, as anyone would be. And Joni was praying for a miracle, and she was praying for God to heal her. And people were coming and praying for her, and they were praying for a miracle. But a miracle didn’t come. And so then, you know what Joni wanted to do? She wanted to do what many would want to do. She wanted to die. She hung up her harp and said, ”I’ve lost my song. I’ve lost my reason to go on. I want to die.” But how do you kill yourself when you’re a quadriplegic? And so she would ask her friends. They’d come in to see her, and she’d say, ”Slash my wrists. Please slash my wrists. I can’t feel it. I have no feeling here. Just slash my wrists. I just want to die.” And her friends would say, ”No, we’re not going to do that.” And she said she would sit in her hospital bed and she would try and jerk her neck like this to hope that she could break her neck up higher to kill herself ’cause she didn’t want to live. And she tried and tried to kill herself. She’d take her wheelchair and she’d try and ram herself into the wall to hopefully kill herself. She got to the place before the Lord where she said, ”God, if I can’t die, then show me how to live. Show me how to live in this chair. Show me how to live in this Babylon, in this strange land, in this change in my life that I don’t want. How do I live like this?” And the Lord answered that prayer. And the Lord showed her how to live. And the Lord showed her how to shine. And the Lord gave her a song. And I believe there is probably not a more vibrant, glowing testimony for the Lord than Joni Erickson Tada. She just radiates the Lord Jesus Christ and she has such impact and such power. Why? ‘Cause she lives in this foreign land, in this strange land, and in this place that none of us would want to live, in a wheelchair! And there’s joy there, and there’s a song there. Wow! God uses that to reach people for Christ. A Christian is called to shine and sing in this world.
And a Christian is called to seek first the kingdom of God. Look at it again. ”How can we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.” ”Lord, I don’t ever want to speak again. I don’t ever want to sing again if I forget to exalt Jerusalem, the city of God, the kingdom of God above my chief joy, above the thing that I think is so wonderful, so awesome. Your kingdom is above that.”
You think about the thing that gives you the most joy. You think about the thing that is most precious to you, for many of us in the room, the thing most precious to us are our kids. The kingdom of God needs to be exalted above your children. The kingdom of God needs to be exalted above your spouse. The kingdom of God needs to be exalted above your sports. The kingdom of God needs to be exalted above anything and everything – your job, your money, whatever it is. He says, ”Lord, I don’t ever want to speak again. May my right hand forget its skill if I don’t remember to keep the kingdom of God first and foremost in my life.” So many of us are guilty of not doing that we let the kingdom of God fall down into second place, third place, fourth place, fifth place. And the glory of God, we think, Well, yeah, I’m thinking more about the glory of me and not the glory of God. First Corinthians 10:31 says, ”Whether then, you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Hey, when you go through change in life, when you are taken to a strange land, when you find yourself in a Babylon, so to speak, and you’re weeping and mourning, you remember you’re a citizen of the kingdom of God. And a Christian is called to shine for Christ, and a Christian is called to exalt the kingdom above anything and everything and to bring glory to God. Watch out what comes out of your mouth. Watch out for your actions. Because if your actions, if your words hurt the kingdom of God, that takes glory that should go to God and it causes it to become strife and discord and problems. ”Seek first the kingdom of God,” the Scripture says. Jesus said, ”Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” You need to do some business there? Do you have some other things that are more important in your life than the kingdom of God? The kingdom needs to be raised above your chief joy.
I love what the Scripture says in Hosea chapter 6. As the writer, Hosea, was experiencing grief and turmoil, he says this to the people: ”Come, let us return to the Lord, for He has torn us, but He will heal us. He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days. He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him.” – That the kingdom of God would be our chief joy.
I heard someone say one time ”Well, you know, my church is my life.” Wrong! Church isn’t supposed to be your life. Jesus is supposed to be your life. ”Well, my kids, they’re my life.” Wrong! Jesus is to be your life, not your kids. Jesus is the solid rock. He’s the only thing that doesn’t change. And you’ve got to anchor your life on Jesus Christ. And you can return to Him, if He hasn’t been your chief joy, and He’ll revive you and He’ll raise you up, that you can live before Him.
So what do you do when you’ve lost your song? You get totally honest. What do you do? You remember the kingdom of God. I’m not a citizen of this world. I’m a citizen of the kingdom of God.
And number three. Insight number three: You trust God to make things right in His timing. Verse 7: ”Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom (the Edomites, they were descendants of Esau.) The day of Jerusalem, who said, Raze it; raze it to its very foundation!” Remember. God, remember what happened. Lord, look on our situation and remember what happened.
Now here’s the truth: Bad things have happened to me in my life. Bad things have happened to you in your life. There’s not a person in this room that hasn’t experienced some kind of difficulty, problem, bad thing. Some of us have had tremendous trauma in our lives. Others have had other kinds of trauma. But think about it in terms of a car wreck. Some of you have been in a head-on collision before in life, and others of you have just had fender benders here and fender benders there. But all of us have gone through accidents. ”Man who is born of woman,” the Scripture says, ”is short lived and full of trouble.” Jesus said, ”In the world you have tribulation.” So you don’t get out of this world unscathed. And you go through problems. And I go through problems. And people will do things, purposely or on accident, but they’ll do things that will hurt you and hurt me. So what do you do with that? You trust God to make things right in His timing. Listen. God knows what has happened to you. God knows what has happened to me. He knows everything. ”The eyes of the Lord are in every place watching the evil and the good.” And He knows what has happened.
Look at Psalm 137, verse 7 in The New Living Translation. ”O LORD, remember what the Edomites did on the day the armies of Babylon captured Jerusalem. Destroy it, they yelled. Level it to the ground.” Now the Edomites, the sons of Esau, were Israel’s mortal enemy. And the day that the Babylonians came in to destroy Israel, the sons of Esau, the Edomites, they were there with their pom-poms and their megaphones and they were doing cheers and they were having a big old time. And they were cheering on the Babylonians. ”Destroy Israel. Wipe them out. Raze it, raze it to its very foundation. Raze Jerusalem, the city of God.” They said, ”Lord, did You hear that? Lord, did You hear what they said?” The Lord said, ”I heard that. I know what’s going on. I, I saw that.” ”Lord, did You see what the Babylonians did? And Lord, they took our little ones and they dashed them on a rock. Did You see that, God?” ”I saw that. I know everything that’s going on,” the Lord says.
And see, sometimes when we deal with people who do terrible things and we wonder why they don’t do terrible things and, BAM, just die. How you ever thought that? I mean, have you’ve ever thought, if I were God, as soon as this person did this I would kill them. I might kill them slow. I might give them a bowel obstruction. I would let that guy squirm for a while and then die. You know, I mean, come on we’re talking about being honest, right? You’ve never had that thought? Oh, I’ve never had that thought. Baloney, you’re a liar we’ve all had thoughts like that. ”God, why don’t You do something here?” God will do something in His timing. See, the Lord is so wonderfully patient. If God weren’t patient, not only would your enemies be dead, but you’d be dead, too. See, we all want God to be patient with us. ”Lord, You get after my enemies. But now, Lord, when it comes to me You need to be really, really patient.” We want God to be like two different gods, you know – tough on our enemies, lenient on us. And it’s a good thing that God is patient. But listen. God’s patience doesn’t last forever.
Babylon had destroyed the city of God, had taken these people captive had killed so many of the Jews, but Babylon wasn’t going to be in power forever. And in Daniel chapter 5, you have the story of the last hours of Babylon. King Belshazzar is the king now. And he’s having a big old time and having a war with the Medes and the Persians. But he’d not worried about it because he’s got the big walls in Babylon, and how are they going to get in here? And so he’s having a party, a little drunken party, and he brings in the goblets that they got from the temple in Jerusalem. And he’s mocking God and using the holy things of God. And all of a sudden during his party there’s a hand that shows up – just a hand that begins to write on the wall. No body, just a hand. And it writes these words: ”Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.” And Belshazzar is scared to death. His knees are knocking. He’s like, ”Where is this coming from? What does this mean? I don’t know what this means, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.” And all his wise men couldn’t figure it out. But there was one guy in the kingdom named Daniel. And Daniel was right with God, and Daniel walked with God, and God revealed mysteries to Daniel. And Daniel came before the king and he said, ”What does this mean?” And Daniel said basically, in effect, ”Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin. Let me tell you what it means. ”Hasta la vista, baby – that’s what that means. You’re going to die! Mene, Mene – God has numbered your days and your kingdom is done. Tekel – you’ve been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Upharsin – your kingdom is going to be divided between the Medes and the Persians.” And that very night King Belshazzar was slain.
God is patient, but He’s not patient forever. And the saying is so true – the wheels of God’s justice grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine. And God will take care of His enemies. And God will do what is right at the right time. He will handle things perfectly in His timing.
Look at verses 8 and 9 as we close out. ”O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one. How blessed will be the one who repays you with the recompense with which you have repaid us. How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock.”
Oh, people read that and they think, Oh, that’s just terrible. That’s in the Bible that they’re praying that God would seize and dash their little ones and throw them against the rock? Charles Spurgeon, on his commentary on that verse, he said, ”You go through what those people went through. You see your children dashed upon the rock, and you don’t see if you have welling up within you, ‘Get ’em, God. Get ’em, God. Repay them, God. Repay them in kind.”’ And you know what this Scripture is talking about, I believe? It’s a Scripture that corresponds to Romans chapter 12, verse 19 that says, ”Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God. For it is written, Vengeance is Mine. I will repay, says the Lord.”
Now when do you take your own revenge? Never! When do you take your own revenge? Never! Never! Never! You never take your own revenge. You leave room for the wrath of God.
Who can inflict more repayment on a person – you or God? God! God! You just say, ”Lord, You deal with them. You’re the just God. Shall not the judge of all the earth deal rightly?” Yes, God will deal rightly. And God knows how to repay those who transgress and those who do terrible, horrible things. You just leave room for the wrath of God. ”Vengeance is Mine,” God says, ”I will repay.” So you trust God.
Hey, what do I do when I’ve lost my song? You get totally honest with God. You remember the kingdom of God. You trust God to make things right. And then, you know what you do? You get your harp off the willow tree, and you play again, and you sing again. And you say, ”God, You’re still God, and I’m still a child of the King. And I still have a song to sing. I don’t care what has happened I have a song to sing.” And you do like Joni Erickson did. ”God, I don’t like this. I’m in this situation. I’m in this wheelchair. And if I can’t die, then show me how to live.” And God will show you how to live. And God will give you a song.
Julie Andrews lost her voice. And I don’t know much about her. I don’t know where she is spiritually. But I guarantee you, when she lost her voice, she lost her song. And she went through great depression. You don’t sing like she sings for decades and decades and decades and then just have that taken away. It’d be like, ”Oh, that’s no big deal.” It’s a huge deal. When she was interviewed by Barbara Walters, about a year and a half after her surgery, Barbara asked her, ”What are you going to do, Julie, if you can never sing again?” And she said, ”I don’t even want to answer that question. I don’t even want to think about that.” That was in the late 90s. ”I don’t even want to think about that.” She said, ”Well, what if.” She goes, ”I’d be devastated. I don’t even want to go there. I’m going to live in denial. I’m just going to say that’s not going to happen.” Well, it did happen. And here we are 2011. Julie Andrews can’t sing. She’s never going to be able to sing. But you know what she did in the early 2000s? She pulled her harp off of the willow tree. She said, ”My life’s not over. I’m not dead and gone.” She began to act. She was in ”The Princess Diaries, Part 1 and Part 2. And then, she was the voice in Shrek. She was Queen Lillian in ”Shrek, Part 3,” and then, ”Shrek Forever.” She was in ”Despicable Me.” She was the narrator in ”Enchanted.” She’s written books with her daughter, children’s books. She picked up her harp. She said, ”My life’s not over. I still have a song to sing.” And so do you.
I don’t care what’s happened in your life. God is God. And God can work miracles. And God says to you and to me, ”Trust Me!” In Jesus’ name.
Lord, we love You. We thank You. We praise You. God, You’re good, even in Babylon. God, You have a plan for us, even through all the hurt and through all the pain. God, I know that there are people who’ve lost their song. They’ve gone through tremendous hurt and pain and tremendous trauma and they’ve felt like You’ve forgotten them. I pray that You’d just remind us all, Lord, as Your children, that You’ve inscribed us on the palms of Your hands. It’s impossible for You to forget us. We’re special and we’re precious to You. Thank You, Lord Jesus, that on those hands there are nail scars where You proved your love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, You died for us. Lord, I pray that everyone in this room would leave this place today saying, ”I’m taking my harp off the willow tree and I’m going to sing again to the Lord. He’s my King. He’s my God. He has a plan for me. I’m a child and a citizen of the kingdom. Lord, if there are people here today and they don’t know for sure that they really know You, that they’re really citizens of the kingdom of heaven, I pray today would be the day that they would just say, ”Jesus, forgive me of all my sins. Come into my life. Change me. I want to know that I belong to You. I want to be a citizen of heaven. I want to be a child of the King. I want to be born again and have my life changed by Your power.” And, Lord, for folks that just need to pour out their hearts to You over situations, maybe over wayward children, maybe over a parent that’s far from You, God, just have Your way during this time of invitation, that we would do business with the King. And, Lord, that all of us would exalt You above our chief joy; that You’d be number one in our hearts. We need You. We love You, Lord – In Jesus’ name, amen.