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Harps Left On Willows

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Don't allow the world and the Devil to demoralize you and cause your harp to be left lying on the willows...

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Harps Left On Willows

Psalm 137:1–4 KJV 1900
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, When we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps Upon the willows in the midst thereof. 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. How shall we sing the Lord’s song In a strange land?
From 597 BC to 538 BC, the people of Israel experienced some of the most gruesome and terrible times in their entire history.
This was the time of the Babylonian Captivity.
The Babylonian Captivity was a terrible, horrible, dark time for the people of God:
Lamentations 1:5 KJV 1900
Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; For the Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: Her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.
In the middle of this Captivity, God’s people were forced to worship Baal, and the poor were greatly oppressed. Many were killed.
SIDE ILLUSTRATION: I want you to imagine for a moment that this happened to us today! We were defeated in America, and our congregations of our churches were marched out and taken to another country where we had to worship some false God in humiliation.
The Babylonian king at the time (you may have heard his name before) was Nebuchadnezzar.
And he had just defeated the southern kingdom of Judah and carried the people of Judah into exile in several phases.
King Nebuchadnezzar
The Babylonian king at the time (you may have heard his name before) was Nebuchadnezzar.
David’s Harp
And he had just defeated the southern kingdom of Judah and carried the people of Judah into exile in several phases.
There had been battle and destruction due to the attacks of Babylon, and many, many thousands of Israelites had died in the fight.
Now, I want you to understand today that everything that Nebuchadnezzar did to these people was part of his plan.
Nebuchadnezzar had watched these people grow into a mighty group. And they had overcome many trials in their history.
He well understood that these people he was attempting to capture were the same kind of people who had once been captured by Egypt and held there many years.
And I believe today that Nebuchadnezzar had a great admiration for the vision that the Egyptian Pharaoh had in capturing them.
But it went beyond that. Because king Nebuchadnezzar knew that Pharaoh had FAILED. Egypt was utterly destroyed. And this King did not plan to fail!
And I also believe that Nebuchadnezzar understood that somewhere, in Israel’s escape from Egypt, there had been an invisible force that was guiding them and destroying their enemy! (A pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of cloud by night!)
He believed that there was a very real presence that was guiding the people of God in everything that they did!
SIDE POINT: I’m gonna tell you today that the church is not something that is created and used by men, but this thing is being led by a very real presence called the Holy Ghost!
We’re not just running around encouraging each other in life and just using the church for our own benefit - there is a mighty, POWERFUL, OMNIPOTENT GOD that is IN CONTROL!
So - King Nebuchadnezzar believed all this. He knew that if he went up against Israel, he was going up against their God.
And then the thought process began: What can we do that will disconnect them from their God?
Oh, we can completely remove them from their homeland!
Oh, and we can make them worship Baal!
Yeah, and we can oppress them - especially their poor and needy!
What Happened On The Way Out
And all of everything that they did to these Israelites was just horrible.
And as I was studying this, I came across something that really was despicable.
Directly after the King’s wins in battle against Israel, he begins marching them out of their homes. And you’ve got these massive lines of people who are being marched out of their home and into a strange land.
Historians say that there was a constant practice of Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon: As they would capture a people, they would walk them out, right through the dead bodies of their people who had been killed in battle.
And so defeated Israel is being marched out, and as they hold their kids, walking, they look to the left, and they see bloated, bleeding bodies of friends, and family, and perhaps neighbors that were theirs!
And when they looked away to the right, they could only see the same thing!
And this went on for miles and miles!
Nebuchadnezzar was an evil man, and he was doing this for a reason! By forcing them to walk by and through these bodies, he was demoralizing them! Because he knew that if he could defeat them mentally by demoralizing and desensitizing them, he would cut them off from their God!
The only way that he was going to truly be able to overcome and defeat these people and their God is if he demoralized them!
The Demoralization of Children of God
And so we read in our text today that in the midst of this trouble and captivity...
Psalm 137:1–2 KJV 1900
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, When we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps Upon the willows in the midst thereof.
Psalm 137:
They laid down their harps on the willows, and they LET THEIR SONG DIE OUT in that moment!
Fellow saint, I want you to listen close today. Satan knows that he doesn’t have to cause you to fall into temptation to accomplish his goal. He knows he doesn’t have to get you to become bitter and hatful to win your soul. All he has to do is to walk you through your past and the issues of your life and bring down your faith and hope today!
Ladies and gentlemen, we can’t allow ourselves to become desensitized by the things that we see in our lives!
You can become demoralized by:
The news.
Social Media.
The events that happen in your life.
Watching wild people in our world.
These things can have an effect on your mind. And you can become numb and accept the state that our world is in.
But I’ve got news for you today!
Not everybody is neck-deep in the world today! Not everybody is living in sin!
As a matter of fact, in the middle of that Babylonian Captivity there was a Daniel! There was a Shadrach, a Meshach, and there was an Abednego! And they reached over to those willows and picked up their harp of praise!
And they said:
Micah 7:8 KJV 1900
Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: When I fall, I shall arise; When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.
David’s Harp
When I read that scripture about harps on the willows, I immediately thought about David.
He was a master of the harp.
But so many things happened to him that he could’ve allowed to demoralize him. Some of it was his own fault, but not all.
In his life:
He played the harp for Saul, who tried to kill him.
He was chased by Saul’s armies.
He had many enemies in battle that caused him trouble.
His son Absolom rebelled against him.
His son Absolom died.
But if you’ll look in your Bible today, you’ll find that the book with the most chapters out of any of them is the book of Psalms!
And the reason that David took a great part in that is because he never sat his harp down on the willows!
Folks, events in our lives will change us. They can bring us down or take us up.
But if you don’t have a harp to pick up, and if you’re not willing to play it, you’re going to lose your song...
So I say lift your head up, brother! Lift your head up, sister! Play your harp!
Hey - the world has all kinds of songs of the world! And they’re giving it 100%!
And I believe if the world is giving it 100%, the church ought to give it 200%!
It’s time to get out that harp! Come out of that sorrow today! Come out of the regret in your past!
“Well I don’t see any reason for such excitement...”
The Band Director Is Hungry!
Our High School band teacher told me he’s going to come check out our church!
I’ve tried to work on him many times! And there’s times when you’ll feel in your mind, “See! They’ll never come! You reaching out won’t do anything!”
But don’t become demoralized and discouraged! You get out your harp and keep playing it!
And there’s gonna come a day when God brings down a blessing for your faithfulness!!!
Don’t let your lost family try to demoralize you and tell you what you believe is nonsense! When they do that, you need to get out your harp!
You know what you need to do?! You need to lay hands on them and pray them through to the Holy Ghost! Problem solved!
Our First MERGE Service
We’re talking about kids here who have been through some stuff on their own. They could hang their heads.
But I got in there that Wednesday night and spoke strength into their lives, and before it was over, we had a bunch of kids who had picked up their harps off those willows and they were speaking in tongues in that fellowship hall!
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