“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.”
There are two sets of people in this passage that need each other. The first set of people presented were God’s people who sat by the rivers of Babylon. They sat there mourning because they wanted to be back in their homeland. They remembered Zion and the days they used to have, and they would have done anything to relive their lives so they wouldn’t have to be in captivity in Babylon. These people determined that they were not going to sing anymore; in fact, they hung their harps on the willow trees and wept when they remembered what they once had.
The other set of people were the captors who requested the captives to sing one of the songs of Zion. The captors wanted to have the happiness of Zion in Babylon, and they knew that the songs of Zion were filled with joy and mirth. They knew that those songs would bring happiness into the land of captivity.
Some very important lessons are found in this verse that you must apply to your life. First, you can’t live life over again. One of the reasons you must do right is because you can never go back and have a redo in life. God gives you a choice of what to do in life, but He doesn’t give you a choice of the ramifications of your decisions. You must always remember that there is a tomorrow to every action, and you better live today so that you don’t regret tomorrow what you did today. If you live for the moment, you will one day find yourself like these people sitting by your river of Babylon wishing you could go back and redo what you had done.
Second, you can’t change what you have done, but you can change where you are now. These people who sat by the river of Babylon didn’t realize they could bring joy to their captivity if they would get right with God and start singing the songs of Zion. You can either let the hardships of life hold you captive, or you can hold the hardships captive by making the most out of your situation. You will never bring joy to life by sitting and sulking. There must come a point in your life when you decide to stop sulking and start rejoicing that you at least still have a life to live. As long as you have a life to live, God has a purpose for your life if you will choose to make the most out of your situation.
Third, your captivity can be another’s joy if you will choose to be joyful in your captivity. The captor’s lives were just as joyless as the lives of the captives, and the captives had a chance to influence the captors for good. Your disposition in life’s captivity will determine how much you influence others for good or bad. You can go through life in the doldrums and complain about how bad you have it, or you can choose to have a good spirit and live a life with a song in your heart because you have a Heaven you are going to someday.
Let me ask you; are you allowing the hardships of your life to hold you captive? Maybe it was your actions that caused the plight of your life, but you don’t have to let the past actions continue to ruin your future. You can choose to either sit and sulk about what your past actions have done to your life, and you will miss the joy you could have in the present if you do this; or, you can make the most out of your present situation and use your captivity to influence others for good. No matter how bad you have it, always remember that you have a reason to continue, and that reason can be realized if you choose to be joyful in your situation.