They Hung Up Their Harps


Psa. 137:2     On the willows there
        we hung up our harps.
Psa. 137:3     For there our captors
        asked us for songs,
    and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
        “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”


The children of Israel were living in exile and as they journeyed their captors asked them to sing their songs of Zion. There was no joy in their hearts and they had no desire to perform for those who had taken them into captivity. In public protest they took their harps and hung them on the willow trees. The harps were not hidden away under bushes but hung up for all to see. The had lost their songs. Their joy was gone. But sadly, as they refused to sing for their captors, so they refused to sing to God.


I believe that there are times that we feel like this in life. Everything that we have been going through is simply enough and we are sick and tired. No longer do we want to praise the Lord, sing, or go to church. We want to hang up our harps and sit in silence. We hang up our harps in protest — hoping that someone notices that we’re not using them.

There are some who refuse to go to church because they have been offended.They simply stop going and don’t tell anyone and are hoping that someone notices that they’ve hung up their harp. They actually want the attention that comes from hanging up the harp in public view and are hoping that someone comes and begs and pleads with them to pick up the harp again and play.

Part of the problem was that the Israelites saw this as performing for their captors. However, their music should never have become a performance for anyone, but should have always been a way of worship before God. In hanging up their harps they are really demonstrating what is happening in their hearts. They made the captivity and despair all about them and not about God. They were sad to no longer be in Zion. They were sad to be held by the captives. They were miserable!

But this had all been of their own doing.

Had they always been playing their harps and singing to worship God, they would have remained faithful to him. This exile was really to save them as a people. It actually ended up being a wake-up call to their infidelity. The best thing they could have done was to keep on praising and worshipping God.

The Israelites were to have been an evangelistic people. By hanging up their harps they gave in to their despair. Had they sung, they may have led some of their captors into worshipping God. Their act of hanging up their harps, while done in despair, actually was selfish. It reflected their personal frustration and also withheld the beauty of the worship of God from those whom it may have transformed.

The church will hurt us and disappoint us for she is made up of broken people. At the same time we must consider that we are not there to judge one another but to praise our God. When our focus remains on him then we will not be tempted to hang up our harps but will instead continue strumming the strings while looking to our Father in heaven, and giving him praise.


Lord, please help me to sing out my song for you!  Amen.


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