5If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
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.
(Psalm 137:5-6, King James Version)
It was a bitter time for the children of Israel. Jerusalem had been ransacked and most of the people routed from their homes and carted off to Babylon. While standing on the shores of the Babylonian rivers, the Israelites lamented their fate. The writer of Psalm 137 implored the people to remember Jerusalem. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
What, exactly, was the Psalmist calling the Jews to remember? Were they to remember their lovely city, the happy occasions, their loving families surrounding them, and their magnificent temple, built by Solomon so many years before? Or, was the Psalmist imploring the people to remember God? The distinction between these questions is not to be missed!
Sometimes, the only way to remember something is to have it taken away! The Israelites were a holy people, set aside by God, Himself, as His own distinct people. Miraculously moving them from captivity in Egypt, He brought them to a land they did not plant, houses they did not build, and gave it to them as an eternal inheritance. Yet, what did they do? Almost the entire time they lived in the land of promise, and in the city of Jerusalem, they spent their days running after other gods, incorporating the worship of them into their own religious practices. Was God pleased? Not at all!
The truth is, while living right in the their glorious land of promise, the Israelites forgot God! It was, therefore, not the happy occasions, the loving families, and their magnificent temple that the Psalmist was calling the people to remember. No, the Psalmist was referring to God. Jerusalem was the symbol, but God was at the heart of the Psalmist's call to remembrance.
We have the same propensity as did the Israelites, to take the things we have for granted. Oh, we love God, but He is always there. Church is always there, and Christian friends are always there, Because God loves us, He will never allow us to lose the privilege of attending church, reading our Bibles, or fellowshipping with other believers, will He?
Yet, history has shown that the suffering church is the most faithful church. When our lives become filled with ease and folly, so are we often filled with apathy in our service for the Lord. Is that true of God's church in the 21st century? How often do our Bibles gather dust while we run from one event to another, too busy to take the time to spend with the Lord, daily, in prayer and Bible study? How much time do we spend watching the latest sitcoms, or reading the latest fiction from the the New York Time's best seller list, while ignoring the living Word of God?
How well do we know this Word that God has given to us? How much do we appreciate the ability to possess our own personal copies of the Scripture, in an abundance of versions? How careful are we to encourage our pastors to remain faithful to the teachings of God's Word? Do we even know if they are not teaching the whole counsel of God?
As Christians today, let us remember Jerusalem. Let us not take for granted the whole counsel of God revealed to us in His Holy Word. Let us make it a daily part of our lives to read and study this Word, and to spend time in prayer and fellowship with God, Himself. Our God is available to us, but are we available to Him?
God Bless You,