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  • Writer's pictureAlan Fong

The Rivers of Babylon

Today’s Verse:

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. ~Psalm 137:1


Rivers have been important waterways for people. Major cities have been built along great rivers for drinking, food, irrigation, agriculture, and trade. In Egypt, there is the Nile River. Running through South America is the Amazon River. In the United States is the Mississippi River. In ancient Babylon, it was the Euphrates River. When the writer of Psalm 137 spoke about rivers, he was most likely referring to the Euphrates and the Tigris, which was on the eastern side. These rivers of Babylon became the setting and spiritual lesson for this psalm.

We see the residence.

He said, “There we sat down.” Because of unrepentance towards their sins of idolatry, carelessness, and disobedience, the Jews throughout Jerusalem and Judah were taken captive and lived for seventy years in Babylon. Babylon, not Jerusalem, became their residence. The best analogy to this would be someone losing their home and precious belongings to a devastating fire and having to relocate to live in squalor and unfit conditions. Captivity had become their home. It’s not until God takes something comfortable out of our life that we realize how good things once were. Are you siting by the rivers of Babylon this morning?

We see the remorse.

He said, “There we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion” They remembered the beautiful temple in Jerusalem. They remembered the daily and perennial sacrifices and ceremonies. They remembered the foods that they enjoyed eating. They remembered the goodness and protection of God upon them. They remembered the prophets, priests, and kings who were their spiritual leaders. They remembered and were overcome with sorrow. They were sorrowing because of regret. They were sorrowing because of their sin. They were sorrowing because they had opportunity to repent, but they did not. They wept sadly, sorely, and substantially. All of us have a breaking point where God has to sometimes put us so that we have a broken and contrite heart before Him. Has God broken your heart about something in your life?

We see the refining.

Babylon was a furnace of affliction for God’s people. God used a seventy-year captivity to bring His people to their senses of how much they had grieved the heart of God. God uses trials to refine, or purify, us from our sin, rebellion, and hardened heart. The Babylonians mocked the Jews by telling them to sing them one of the songs of Zion. They said, “How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?” God uses trials to reveal deep within us the sins that have beset us. He uses uncomfortable circumstances and time to deliver us from pride and obstinacy. Is there a fiery trial that God has placed in your life for purifying?

We see the recompense.

“O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.” Despite their difficult circumstances, the Jews remembered from the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah that God would deal with Babylon and bring His people back. As they looked into the future, they saw that there would be payback time to the Babylonians for their severe and harsh treatment. Fast forward to Revelation 7, during the Great Tribulation, where we read of the cry of the martyred saints to the Lord to perform a payback to those who shed their blood and killed them. God has His day in which He vindicates His people. They knew God would deal justly, but according to His time. It maybe you are sitting by the rivers of Babylon, wondering if there is justice with God. There is, but while you wait, "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

Have a God-perfecting God Morning!

Bible Reading Schedule: Romans 14-16

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