A Current Bible Study:
Psalm 137
"The Silent Night of the Old Covenant"

        This is a dark night. Very dark. God's people of the Old Covenant had reached a point that no Christian today, I'm sure, ever expects to experience. Their faith, their walk with the Lord, had been reduced to only a memory. The praise of their souls to silence. Their only thoughts, hopeless bitterness. The glorious treasure of untold victories erased by sweeping and devastating defeat:
Verses 1- "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion."
     The night Jesus was born was a night of hope. It was a beginning. This is an end, and this next line just makes me cringe:
Verse 2- "We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof."
Satan wants you and I today to hang up our harps of praise to the Lord and go "silent." This passage and others tell us that the Old Covenant ended in defeat. Their praise and walk came to an end.

Verse 3- "For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion."
     It was more than just being captive, carried away, and taunted. God's people knew, deep down, that they had done all this to themselves, and that God had allowed it, because of their disobedience. That was what stung so badly. That is what silenced them.
Verse 4- "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?
The long-dreaded curse that was part of their Covenant with God finally had come:
Deuteronomy 11:26-28- "Behold I set before you this day (This is God speaking to them through Moses and the Law.) a blessing and a curse; A blessing if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if you will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I commanded you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known."

        This Psalm ends with their responses to being cursed. The first is somewhat pitiful:
Verse 5-6- "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."
That may sound holy enough, but what they say next reveals much, maybe too much for our tastes, about what they had become through unbelief, selfishness, and bitterness:
Verse 7-9- "Remember. O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof. O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones."

     Beloved, when we study the entire Bible, God makes us look at some unpleasant and difficult things. The Bible is not a story book. It's not meant to entertain or tantalize. It's real. And nothing is so frightening as what is real. Yet, I want to make something very clear here. I do not condemn the Israelites of that day. They were not so different from you or me. If we do not obey our New Covenant commandments (to love God with our whole hearts and our neighbors (even our enemies!) as ourselves) we can wind up defeated, bitter, and obsessed with vengeance. I've seen it in others. I've seen in the Church today. And, sadly, I've flirted with it myself in my own Christian life and ministry. O, yes, God has a curse for me too. I am no better than they were, and I know it, beloved! But just when I arrive at my Babylon, just when I'm reaching out to hang up my harp for good, help arrives!
        You see, you and I live under a better Covenant than the one the people in this Psalm had (see Hebrews 8:6). It's not better because we are any better. We are not. But we have better leadership. We have Christ. He's better than Abraham (see John 8:56-58), Moses (see Hebrews 3:1-3), Joshua (see Hebrews 4:8), David (see Matt 22:42-45), Solomon or Jonah (see Luke 11:31-32). And WHEN we FOLLOW and OBEY Him, we are superior, too. At least, that is what Christ has said of us:
Luke 7:28- "For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
The New Covenant is a miracle. It's the greatest news. OUR leader is not just a man influenced by God. He is God. God with us! God taking all the curse for us! If you are in Babylon today, beloved, just take His hand and walk out.

May Jesus Christ richly bless you-JKD 12/25/04