Like many psalms, 137 reminded me of something from my youth, another Godspell song: On the Willows. The words are almost the same as the Psalm –
By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How shall we sing the Lord‘s song
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy! Psalm 137: 1-6
As I read the Psalm this morning, I saw for the first time how it can also speak to our longing for the New Jerusalem, our eventual heavenly home – especially verses 4-6. We live in a foreign land – this world in time – while we long for our new world in eternity.
We can’t even explain what the New Jerusalem is to those who live in the world (in which we are foreigners) and don’t understand our faith. We can sing about our heavenly home among ourselves, but those of this world may ridicule our belief in heaven or at least have no earthly idea of what we sing.
And we don’t want to forget heaven, our New Jerusalem. We keep the eternal before our minds – putting the temporal in perspective.
We recognize that we find in the New Jerusalem our highest joy. Nothing in this world can satisfy as she can because, as the apostle John prophesied:
I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21: 2-4
We find our perfect fulfillment as the bride of the lamb – that’s why we look forward to the New Jerusalem, why we sing about it in the church, and why we can’t forget her.
Dear Lord: I so often live for today. Please help me remember the New Jerusalem and thank You that one day I’ll be with You there. Amen.