Lessons from by the riverside
Synopsis of sermon 07/26/09
Delivered by Bishop Walker III
Text: Psalm 137:1-4: 1By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. 2We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. 3For 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. 4How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a strange land?
There are experiences that shape us into our destiny. Romans 8:28 says all things work together for them that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. Look at the portion of the scripture that says all things. It is this portion of the scripture that we often want to discard. We often don’t want to count the bad things. We have to realize that bad things that happen to us count too. All things good and bad collectively work together for our good.
In the text Israel had been taken captive and they were held by the riverside. This represents remembering or reminiscing over what we used to be and what we used to have. In the text the captors of Israel are now mocking them by saying to them “sing some of the songs of Zion”. Israel was noted for the songs they sung in worship to God. Israel was monistic which meant they believed in worshipping one god, this being the one true and living God. The captors were trying to mock Israel’s relationship with God, just like many of you are experiencing your faith being tested right now. God knows how you will speak well of him when all is good, but can you do it when the bottom falls out? Like the captors of Israel, God wants to know if you can sing your song when things have gone all wrong. Is there substance in your relationship with God?
Lessons that we learn through our dilemma will launch us forward into what God wants to come out of our life. In our text Israel has been assaulted and the kingdom has been divided. Their captors do things in this text to trip Israel up concerning their relationship with God.
I. Don’t let the enemy dictate your faith response
Psalm 137:1: 1By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
1. The verse says they are sitting. Sitting means you have accepted where your life is or your present condition. How long will you let the enemy decide how you will end up? There is nothing wrong with weeping, but if you do, do so standing up. Ever talk to someone with same sad song all the time? After you finish talking with them on the phone, you feel down. They have a spirit that brings you down. You have got to learn too stand. You got to stand up, get up, and depend on God to work it out.
2. We have begun allowing the enemy to dictate our faith response now days. While you are going through, your faith ought to be better now more than ever before. We come to take authority over what is trying to take our response! Despite what happens, this is the day that the Lord has made and we must rejoice and be glad in it!
3. While going through our trials, we must remember the response of Jeremiah. Jeremiah 29:4-11: 4Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; 5Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; 6Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. 7And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. 8For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. 9For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD. 10For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. 11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
a. God allowed this to happen according to verse 4 of Jeremiah 29.
b. We are supposed to build houses. According to verse 5, though we have been taken captive by our situation, we are still supposed to build house and be productive. We still are supposed to bear fruit.
c. We are supposed to reproduce. Verse 6 says we are supposed to reproduce. Verse 7 reminds us to even pray for the well being of the place that God allowed us to be held captive, because out of it, we will receive peace. God promises in verse 11 that he will return us back to our land. We ought to produce rather than whine in a jacked up situation. Don’t let the enemy dictate your faith response. You have a choice to whine or plant seeds, be productive, and have peace.
II. Don’t let the enemy force your resignation
Psalm 137:2-3: 2We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. 3For 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.
1. The captors wanted Israel to give an offering of praise to them. Faith needs a corresponding action. We can’t declare our situation is over. Israel hanging up their harps indicates that they had given up and that they thought it was over.
2. God is not concerned about what is on the outside of us but what is on the inside of us. Israel’s songs pointed to the goodness of God in their lives, so them not wanting to sing would signifying the loss of their faith in God. We dance and say God is good as long as things are going well, but we seem deflated when things go bad.
3. Who can give God glory when the bottom falls out? Israel had seen God deliver before yet they resigned or gave up when things got bad. Remember the devil can’t take from you what God promised you. You have to refuse to put down your harp. Israel’s harps represented who they were. When the enemy is after your song, you have to really ask what he is after. Your song is not just simply about compositions or a collection of notes and words. Your song points to your infinite faith. It points to who you are. There is music in your service. Your song has nothing to do with you opening you mouth.
4. Israel’s song represents a shift. Your ability to sing or have a song in a bad situation represents that you are in another palace. That other place for Israel means a shift from where they were verses where God wanted them to be. Ex- Paul and Silas prayed at midnight, which represented a shift. Acts 16:25-26: 25And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. Paul and Silas prayed at midnight. They sang praises and prayed their way out. When we are in a tough situation and we continue to sing, this shows that our spirit has already shifted out of our situation. Some people wonder how you sing despite what you are going through.
5. All the enemy is trying to do by asking you to sing, is to see fight out of you! Grab your harp and start playing again. Get back up in the choir. Keep doing what God told you do. We sing because we are happy and because we are free. You have to go back and get your harp.
III. Don’t allow your ego to rob you your future recovery
Psalm 137:6-7: 6If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. 7Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof. The Edomites had destroyed Israel’s city. The Edomites represent the people that have done us wrong in our lives.
Most people who preach out the scripture that we selected for this text will tell you that scriptures usually have points of reconciliation. Because this is a Psalm, it does not end in reconciliation. It actually ends with more lamentation or sadness. The Edomites had destroyed Israel’s city. The Edomites represent the people that have done us wrong in our lives.
1. Israel wanted the same thing that happened them to happen to their captors. Psalm 137:8-9: 8 O Babylon, you will be destroyed. Happy is the one who pays you back for what you have done to us. 9 Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks! -Many of us are in this same place right now. We have to remember that what we are dealing with is only temporary. Troubles don’t last always. Why are we tripping so hard over what is happening in our life? This is not a time to give up.
2. We must remember:
a. Don’t bail. Just believe.
b. Don’t let boundaries determine your blessing. Don’t let your situation block your blessing.
c. Don’t be bitter. Being bitter can hinder your breakthrough. The prophet Isaiah speaks to the people about what God is going to do for them. He reminds them that God is going to turn it everything around for them. Vengeance is the Lords. We don’t have to do anything when we are a child of God. All we have to do is sit back and watch God work. God will deal with your adversaries for you. Ezekiel 25:12-14: 12Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them; 13Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword. 14And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD.
3. Is God really going to do this for us? The enemy didn’t realize they messed with the wrong person when they messed with us. Victory shall be ours. God will restore it all in this season that the enemy robbed you of.
4. In our situation, God was trying see:
a. What your posture was going to be: Others were watching you to see how you will handle your situation.
b. Trying to see your potential: You never would have seen your potential in your comfort zone.
c. This was about your profession: God wanted to know what you were going to say. God wanted to know would you complain or give him the glory
d. This was about your perseverance: God wanted to know would you quit ushering, quit singing, or quit coming to church all together because of your situation.
e. This was about your praise: Can you praise him even when things are not going right for you.