It's Time to Take the Harp off the Willow Tree
Dr. Gerald Harris
It would appear that this 137th Psalm had been written by one of the Hebrews who had been carried away into captivity by the Assyrians and who had, along with others, ended up in Babylon. The Jews had been uprooted and deported and were far from their ancestral home. The sins of the nation had overtaken them. The judgment of God had fallen.
They were exiles in a foreign land. Their hearts were broken. They were filled with nostalgia for their lamented homeland.
The first things that we see in our text are the waters of Babylon. Notice what it says, 'By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down....! And great rivers they were. On the east was the Tigris, then there was the Euphrates. This great river flowed through the center of Babylon. There it was the exiles sat. They would have gladly exchanged these mighty
waterways for the humble Jordan River.
But notice not only the waters of Babylon, notice the wistfulness of Babylon. The writer says, "..Yea, we wept, while we remembered Zion. Zion was the prophetic name for Jerusalem. These exiles had looked dismally at the great cities of Assyria. They had seen Nineveh and Babylon. But their thoughts had turned toward Jerusalem. They were homesick for the City of David.
But consider not only the waters of Babylon and the wistfulness of Babylon, consider the willows of Babylon. In verse two our text says, 'we hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof." We are all familiar with willows. We call them weeping willows. They grow near the water. They grow to a considerable height and they let down their long, leafy streamers. They are droopy-looking trees with an air of sadness about them. By the Babylonian willows, beside the wide flowing waters,
these exiles sat down to weep. They were captives in a strange land.
The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:4 that there is a "time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, an ...
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