Singing the Lord’s Song in Uncertainty (Psalm 137:4)

“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”
– Psalm 137:4

Let me say that again. “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” This is such a powerful verse. The context here is God’s people in Babylonian exile. The whole Psalm starts, “By the waters of Babylon.” So they’ve been taken from their homes. They’ve been taken from all their comforts. They’ve been taken from family. As well as, they’ve been taken from Jerusalem, the center of worship life for the people of God, from the temple where the glory of God dwelled among his people. And they’ve been taken from there to Babylon.

It says, “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion.” When we remembered Jerusalem, when we remembered. When we were in the promised land, before we were scattered into this foreign land.

Psalm 137:4 Reminds Us the Lord Is With Us in Difficult Days

How do we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? A prayer for all who are tired and weary amid these difficult days.

The whole Psalm is a longing to get back to normal in a very real sense. And normal in the Old Testament was in the promised land where God had settled his people with the temple in the middle of his people, surrounded by the walls of Jerusalem, where they dwelled in God’s presence continually. And they are longing for that when they’re in exile.

Now that’s the unique context that Psalm 137:4 takes place in. And I want to be really, really careful not to try to make parallels to our life today in the exact same way, because, well, it’s just not exactly the same. We’re not in Babylonian exile. We are not longing to get back to Jerusalem where we can dwell in God’s presence, his glory in the middle of his people in the temple. Like just very, very different on so many different levels.

This Verse Reminds Us to Pray for Others

At the same time, when I read this, How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? That’s the Psalmist asking in the middle of this pain, in the middle of this hurt, in the middle of this difficult time and a difficult place, “How do we sing in worship here?” I read that and I think about where we find ourselves right now. Again, it’s not an exact parallel. I can’t say that enough. But as I’m reading through different specific requests that people are sending in, let me encourage you to continue to send those in to radical.

As we pray for each other specifically in the middle of this pandemic. And that’s the picture as I read all of these prayer requests that are coming in, and specifically this one from Victor, who said, “I am having a hard time with anxiety and fear and uncertainty.” And the beauty is Victor writes how this anxiety, fear and uncertainty is drawing him back and in deeper ways to faith in Christ, to trust in God. But he’s not wanting to live in fear and anxiety.

Psalm 137:4 Reminds Us to Stay Faithful in Hard Times

And I feel like that’s the tension in Psalm 137:4. Just amidst this foreign land, god, how do we trust in you? How do we worship you? How do we not give in to fear and anxiety and uncertainty? And so I just want to pray this over Victor, and over every single person who is struggling in a foreign land, so to speak, right now. I was in the conversation, and obviously it depends on where you live precisely, but we were around day 80 of being quarantined in a sense, or staying in a home. This is just a strange time that we have found ourselves in with unique challenges to our faith, and our lives, and our hearts, and our minds. So how do we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?

This Verse Leads Us to Thank God

God, we pray that together right now. How can we best worship you during these days? That’s our desire. We want to glorify You with every day you give us, whether that’s in our homes or outside our homes. Whether that’s with health or without health. Whether that’s in the middle of prosperous days or in the middle of a pandemic.

We want to worship you. We want to glorify you and to delight in you. Also, we want to sing your praises. And so we’d pray you’d help us to do that. God, we pray specifically altogether right now. And for Victor, we pray that you would give him peace, and joy, and hope, and strength that overcomes anxiety and fear. That you would give him certainty from your word, and your truth, and your promises and your purposes that overcomes uncertainty.

This Verse Leads Us Pray to Trust God

God, I praise you for how you’re even using these days in Victor’s life to draw him into deeper relationship with you, into deeper trust in you, and greater comfort from you. And I pray that that would just would grow by more and more every day. And I pray this over every single person who’s listening to this right now. I pray this over my own life. God, we pray that we would know you more tomorrow. That we would trust you more tomorrow. That we would find more comfort in you tomorrow. More joy in you tomorrow than we do today.

In this foreign land, in these difficult days, God, we pray that you would draw us closer to yourself. That you would make our worship life even more rich and more full as a result of being taken out of that which is normal. We ask these things because we know you desire them. We know you desire to show yourself strong on behalf of your people, to provide for your people. And we praise you for that. We praise you for your grace. And we just say together, we don’t want to miss it. We want to draw closer to you today. So help us to sing your song in a foreign land, in difficult days. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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