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BY THE RIVERS OF BABYLON
by Dr Surya Kumar Daimari
9/06/2020 / Devotionals
Psalm 137 is perhaps the reminiscent of the saddest story of the Israelites in a foreign land. Yet, the composition as a Plaintive Ode is one of the best and most charming in the entire Book of Psalms which manifests what the poetic power is. The Ode itself is rich in poetical form, full of imageries, simile and metaphors-- like the rivers, the harps, the willows, the songs that reflect their lamentation, anguish and sorrows. The Rivers of Babylon refer to the most pleasant flowing rivers of the territory of Babylon--- mainly the Euphrates, Tigris and the other rivulets by which side the Israelites sat down for retirement after the banishment from Zion. They were now in exile after the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
“We wept when we remembered Zion”-
The remembrance of Zion, the joy and love, the peace they had with their God Jehovah when they were obedient to His laws, greatly aggravated their present desolation due to their sins and disobedience. Jerusalem was seized, destroyed and razed to the ground. The Temple was destroyed and desecrated. There was significant loss of life, while hundreds and thousands brought to captives.
As the captives, the children of Israel sat down by the river side for a little breathing and rest to unburden their deep sorrow. However, the memory of the destruction of the holy city and the oppression caused by their enemies have swept down all their delights and dried their tears.
“We hanged our harps upon the willows……….
They that carried us away captive
Required of us a song saying,
Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”
This is perhaps the saddest part of the story. This is obviously very painful and heart breaking. There is a kind of irony running through like an undercurrent that their enemies tried to make fun of them by asking to sing one of the songs of Zion. But how could they sing the Lord’s song in such a situation?
However, the Ode closes with a happy ending. They cry out to the Lord with repentance for their past misdeeds. They remember Jerusalem as their only joy and their only hope. They look upon their God Jehovah, their only God who is going to deliver them from such a situation and wipe away all their sorrows. The prophet Isaiah prophesied that the city of Babylon was doomed to be destroyed (Isaiah 13:1-11). Babylon was a land of idolatry and adultery and all kinds of immorality, pride and arrogance. That was the reason why God eventually destroyed Babylon, both the king and the city.
In the New Testament, Babylon has become an epithet and a “Symbol of Sin and Rebellion” (I Peter 5:13). The city of Babylon has been called, “The Mother of Harlot” (Rev 17:5), “The great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality” (Rev 19:2).
The whole world is like a Babylon which God never intended it to become. We are living now in a new Babylon today with the same pride and arrogance, hatred and enmity--- full of sins and diseases like Covid-19 and perhaps the worst is to come.
WHO WILL DELIVER US FROM SUCH A STATE?
It is very striking that Psalm 137 is itself has become a song now, one of the Lord’s songs. Even hundreds and thousands of years after its composition, it has become now one of the Church’s sweetest songs, as one of the Lord’s best songs--- a song of victory, indeed.
Let us look upon our Lord who only is our Deliverance, the only Savior and Hope, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Name of the Author of this article: Dr. Surya Kumar Daimari, MA,M.Ed, PGDTE,D.Min.(Doctor of Ministry)
The author is a freelance writer.
Book published: The Names of the Believers in the Bible in Types and Symbols .
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