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The Purpose of Lent is to Experience Christ

We really do not comprehend

just how serious sin is.

One of the purposes of Lent is to help us see how our idolatry

grieves a holy God,

so that we might truly repent,

remove the false lover and experience His filling.

This week, as a preface to the second part of Isaiah,

we are going to look at just how severely God judged His people

for idolatry, sending them to be captives in Babylon for 70 years.

Jerusalem was destroyed, their babies dashed upon the rocks, and they

were taken captive by the cruel and hedonistic Babylonians.

Psalm 137 is a lament, a song of their pain, and also an imprecatory psalm,

so a most interesting psalm to ponder.

I do not know the artist who captured Psalm 137 below,

but I want you to see and hear the pain of our departed brothers and sisters

through the talent of Jason Silver,

who used this piece of art and put the lament of Psalm 137 to music.

 

Sunday:

1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

Monday: Psalm 137 – Part I.

The pain God’s people express in Psalm 137 increases with every strophe. Let’s examine this psalm, including its shocking ending. As a background to their pain, we know that 200 years after Isaiah prophesied Judah’s captivity, Judah was taken captive. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem for over a year, killing many people and destroying the Jewish temple, taking captive many thousands of Jews, and leaving Jerusalem in ruins. Both Scripture and history records that part of the Babylonian atrocities involved dashing their little ones into pieces upon the rocks. Can man be so terrible? Yes. The same thing was done to babies in the Jewish death camps.  You cannot help but see Satan behind these atrocities. Yet God allowed it, yea, with Judah, “ordained it.” How are we to get our heads around this? We’ll look at that later, but let us first see the suffering of God’s people due to the judgment of God, and how they responded.

2. Read Psalm 137 in its entirety. You will be shocked, but read it all and then describe some of the pain God’s people were feeling.

To set up the beginning of this psalm, this is a scene from 12 Years As A Slave. In this movie you see the tormentors singing taunting songs to them, and you also see the slaves themselves singing gospel songs to sustain themselves. History shows that the slaves were often forced to dance and sing on slave ships, or to sing their songs of God as a form of mockery. Watch this clip to get a sense of the pain:

 

3. Read Psalm 137:1-3 and describe the scene and what their tormentors asked them to do. Does the above clip give you any empathy into their emotions?

4. How do you glimpse their resolve to resist in verse 2?

5. What question do they ask in verse 4? Why is what they are being asked to do feel impossible to them?

 

Tuesday: Psalm 137 – Part II.

6. The judgment of God that they are experiencing is doing a work in their hearts. How do you see this in verses 5-6?

7. Paul tells us we reap what we sow. While the judgment for our sin fell upon Christ, we will bear the fruit of sin in this life. What are some ways that your idols have put you in chains, have hurt your relationships, and have stolen your joy?

8. Looking again at Psalm 137:5-6, remember that God’s people had made idols their highest joy. So now, explain this resolve to “set Jerusalem above my highest joy!” How could you apply this?

 

Jerusalem Destroyed, Judah taken Captive

9. In Psalm 137:7, what are God’s people remembering?

10. In Psalm 137:8-9, what do they ask God to do?

Wednesday: Pondering and Application! Part I.

Psalm 137 is shocking, but there is much we can learn from this psalm. Remember, it is the Word of God, and it is also interesting that God answered these prayers, for the Babylonians were judged severely, and what they had done to God’s people was done to them. It is also helpful to know that Babylon in Scripture represents Satan’s evil world system, beginning with the tower of Babel in Genesis. God used Babylon to discipline God’s people but then promised to “punish the king of Babylon and his nation” (Jeremiah 25:12) “for all the wrong they have done in Zion” (Jeremiah 51:24). Isaiah 14 says the same. Ultimately, all evil will be judged, as symbolized by Babylon’s demise in Revelation 18:21: “The great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.” But indeed, how are we to apply these imprecatory psalms? You will find opinions vary, but I’d like to ponder these comments from theologians I respect, articulate what they said, and then come up with your own thoughts. I’ll warn you, they have quite different ways of looking at them, but they will stretch you and cause you to seek God. My notes are in red.

C. S. Lewis applies the imprecatory or “cursing” psalms to praying against our own evil sin and also Satan. “From this point of view I can use even the horrible passage in psalm 137 about dashing the Babylonian babies against the rocks. I know things in the inner world which are like babies; the infantile beginnings of small indulgences, small resentments which one day may become dipsomania (uncontrollable craving for alcohol) or settled hatred but which woo and wheedle us with special pleadings, so helpless that in resisting them we feel we are being cruel to animals.” (p. 36 of Reflections on the Psalms) Whether this is what the psalm teaches us to do or not, I do not know. But I do know that the principle of praying against our sins when they are small (the little foxes that spoil the vineyards) is wise.

11. What do you think of Lewis’ application? Is this helpful to you in praying against the siren call of your idol? If so, do it!

Derek Kidner tells us to do 3 things with an imprecatory psalm:

First, distill the essence of it, as God Himself did with Jeremiah and Job. (Indeed, God tells us to be honest with Him, to lament, so we need so see the pain.)

Secondly, to receive the impact of it. The raw wound, thrust before us, forbids us to give smooth answers to the fact of cruelty. To cut this witness out of the Old Testament would be to impair its value as revelation, both of what is in man and what the cross was required for our salvation.

Thirdly, our response is to recognize that our calling is to pray down reconciliation, not judgment. (p. 461 of Psalms 73-150)

12. What do you think of Kidner’s application? (Comment on any ot the points.) Whether or not you agree with the third, we do know Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. How might you pray for your “enemies?”

 

Thursday: Pondering and Application! Part II.

Miroslav Volf, a Croatian who teaches at Harvard, has been quoted by Tim Keller, and has been very helpful to me in understanding the lack of empathy in our protected western world for what one feels when experiencing atrocities against you and your loved ones. He says the Western World is uncomfortable with judgment, but his world is uncomfortable with a lack of judgment. There are those who say it is wrong to pray for God to be violent to our enemies. Here is quote from Miroslav Volf:

My Thesis that the practice of nonviolence requires a belief in divine vengeance will be unpopular with many Christians, especially theologians in the West. To the person inclined to dismiss it, I suggest imagining that you are delivering a lecture in a war zone … Among your listeners are people whose cities and villages have been first plundered, then burned and leveled to the ground, whose daughters and sisters have been raped, whose fathers and brothers have had their throats slit. The topic of the lecture: a Christian attitude toward violence. …it takes the quiet of a suburban home for the birth of the thesis that human nonviolence corresponds to God’s refusal to judge. In a scorched land, soaked in the blood of the innocent, it will invariably die.

I am not sure if Volf is saying we should take vengeance, but I think, rather, that we can ask God to do so. Certainly Volf is trying to build empathy for the red-hot prayer of Psalm 137:8-9.

13. What comments do you have on Miroslav Volf’s thoughts? How do you feel about praying that God will take vengeance on evil?

There have been times in my life when I have prayed that God would either change the heart of someone who is bringing evil to those I love, or to “take them out.” That doesn’t necessarily mean death, but that He will remove him and keep him from inflicting so much harm. I don’t think this prayer is incompatible with asking God to help us forgive. It seems that what has usually happened, is that God has removed them from our lives or our community. When counseling women in prison, we often pray that God will give them the strength to not go back to abusive families, but to make the family of God their family. And I know that women in prison pray that God will deal with their abusers and to remove them from their children. And we have seen Him do it! We have also seen Him change hearts.

Friday: The Judgment of God in Isaiah

We are going to look at this more next week with the help of Albert Motyer, but I was sobered to hear Greg Scharf (head preaching professor at Trinity Seminary) say that every judgment in the Scriptures is a foreshadowing of a much more terrible judgment: The Final Judgment. And surely we see this in Isaiah, as the prophet moves from the mountain peak of the current time to the final judgment of God — sometimes back and forth so quickly that your head is swirling, and sometimes it seems the two judgments are pictured as one. That makes some sense when we see that Babylon is representative of evil, of Satan who will day be cast into the pit of hell forever and ever.

14. Consider Isaiah 13 which is “The oracle concerning Babylon.” Isaiah prophesies Babylon’s coming judgement, but at the same time describes “the day of Yaweh,” or that terrible final judgment. Read Isaiah 13:1-16 and find a prophesy that:

A. Seems to fit just Babylon

B. Seems to fit just the Final Judgment

C. Seems to fit both

15. How has this study caused you to reflect on the holiness of God and your own sin?

Saturday:

16. What is your take-a-way and why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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110 comments

  1. 1.    What stands out to you from the above, and why?
    “We really do not comprehend just how serious sin is. One of the purposes of Lent is to help us see how our idolatry grieves a holy God, so that we might truly repent, remove the false lover and experience His filling.”
    I was pricked to the heart by the picture and the song by Jason Silver. Having the song scrolling while the song was being sung was very effective in showing the depth of sorrow the Israelites felt while sitting by the rivers of Babylon.
    Why do several not have faces? Where are the women (Oh, my God! They must be the mothers whose babies were dashed against the rocks!) Grief overwhelming faces are indescribable.
    The men must be key leaders-I can feel what they must be asking themselves-what have we done? It is too late. Yet among the group was a man looking up to the heavens-that is where I need to look to when my sins are ever before me, acknowledge them and repent.
    Praying for myself, my loved ones and for our country II Chronicles 7:14
         If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  
     I looked Jason Silver up and found this website where he has put the psalms into song (verbatim and not what one would expect but as he said can help one memorize Scripture).
    https://jasonsilver.com/#!/music/the-psalms

    1. Bing–your words here–really magnified the emotions for me. So love your heart.

  2. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

     

    First, the art is deeply moving; the hands, the feet, the skin with its bumps and veins. I get the feeling the people have been through a lot. Paired with the music, you get the feeling the people must have felt.

     

    Secondly, sin. I have seen such nasty sin this week; in my face sin of another, not my own. It pains me and definitely makes me think God must feel this way about me when I sin. I can relate so well with His perspective now. Is that wrong of me to say? I kind of feel like I am being disrespectful to Him, like I am putting myself on a different level, His level. I don’t mean it that way. Just that I can now truly understand how He must be pained – more than I am, and my pain is overwhelming. Just as the Israelites we’re trying to remember Jerusalem, I need to remind myself of better times in the past (see below). How could I have known that my daughter would end up this way? We raised our kids in a happy, sweet home. When they were older the world and Satan took over. I am at the end of myself with our daughter and it is all God now.

     

    Sweet Sarah:

     

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/io3bmyp53zf25v8/2015-02-12%2018.57.43.jpg?dl=0

     

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/jjdtzxxwufh2kns/2015-02-26%2012.55.08.jpg?dl=0

     

     

    1. oh Laura, the pictures made my eyes fill. You stay on my heart. I am so sorry for all you are having to endure.

      1. Lizzy, sometimes I need to remember that I was a good mommy; that I did the things I thought I should as we played on the floor together, took walks to the duck pond, dropped everything if one of them asked to go to the zoo (then it was, “which one? Dallas or Ft. Worth?” Because we lived 20 min from both), and yes, going to church and playing with friends, Mother’s Day Out, and  more. Those were the best days of my life. I tend to get down on myself because of my two middle kids and that’s what I am working on this Lenten season.  No pity parties! This is our story and God is the maestro. I need to get in line!

        thanks for the prayers…

        1. Laura—you did all you could do and this is not your fault. I recently read a Christian big-wig older lady say her biggest regret as a mom was that she didn’t trust God more to take care of her kids and instead took it on herself to worry. That helped me. Keep releasing her to Him as you have been, and we will keep praying for you and her.

    2. Laura, the photos of your kids are precious. I, too, look at my kids’ photos when they were young; the sweetness, the innocence, and what I most remember is their unconditional love for me, their wanting to be with me. It seems as moms, our love for them does not change, but often, as they grow into adults, their love for us does. While we would never think of mistreating them at any stage of their lives, they often mistreat us; with indifference, insensitivity, and it can be much worse, as with what you are experiencing with your daughter. I am so sorry for the deep hurt you are experiencing. We all are praying for you and your family, Laura, but I know it must hurt you deeply.

    3. Laura,  You continue to be in my prayers.   Bev

       

    4. So precious Laura. The Lord can work wonders in Sarah to have her faith come back to her like a rushing wave. Stand strong and keep the faith.

    5. Laura, I am so sorry for all you are going through — and so proud of you for hanging in there. Continuing to pray…

  3. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

    The painting. This is an amazing painting-the way he captures the varying emotions of repentance in each person! So many ways all of us have felt in our suffering. The harps resting against the tree and two are holding them but not playing them speaks loudly of the consequences of sin and where idolatry leads. Pretty powerful and pretty convicting.

      1. Dee-I went and found Amy Shreve’s song. It is so beautiful but I couldn’t find the lyrics. If anyone can find those I would love that! I did some researching and see that there is a lot to the harps in this Psalm and their grief so deep that they can’t sing or play.

    1. Yes, the painting, Rebecca. May this picture be ever before us to impact our hearts and minds of the consequences of idolatry. And to flee from it in the power of Christ.

      1. Amen Bing!

  4. 2. Read Psalm 137 in its entirety. You will be shocked, but read it all and then describe some of the pain God’s people were feeling.

    Their idols turned on them-which idols do after they promise a faux joy. Not only are they suffering for being in bed with their idol, they are being taunted with what they long for again-that joy in Him. satan SO does this with us too. I can’t imagine their pain: regret, shame, hopelessness. That they would rather die than go on.

    1. I can’t imagine either, Rebecca-the regret, shame and hopelessness. Oh that I will not have to sat by the rivers of Babylon! God, save us from ourselves.

  5. The song of Jason Silver is very well done and powerful in that it is directly quoting the Scriptures.  Great depth and meaning behind it all.  In my weekly bible study at church we studied this very Psalm  a few weeks ago.

    I took a little time to read through this weeks lessons. This is incredibly powerful material. I have got to come back to it. It is not for the faint hearted Christian. No fluff here.  Thankyou Dee for taking us where few would go on their own. Confronting our own sin and the sin of others and it’s affect on our lives. There are things in these lessons this week that tie in directly with the bible study I am leading at my chuch right now. With the message my son preached last Sunday. And my daily bible reading through the bible this year.  Just this morning I read some hard stuff from  Numbers and Gods dealings with the Israelites in the wilderness. He didn’t deal lightly with the sin of his own chosen people. Coming through lent and looking to the Cross of Good Friday where Salvation from my sin was bought with Christ’s blood I dare not escape the real and true meaning behind the Resurrection and my new life in Christ. Oh my sin! Oh what a precious Saviour!

  6. The artwork of Psalm 137 is so vivid: people in suffering, some with covered heads, hands on their heads, and falling on their knees in great agony…the one man looking toward heaven and all seeming to be in disbelief of what is happening to them. The judgment of God is severe. It is awful to cause God heartbreak as it is when our children let us down at any age.

    As Laura shares, we are so invested in our children and never expect that they will turn against us and cause so much distress. I know this heartbreak, yet it is not what God experiences.

    Yes, turning to idols is a serious sin and it is more than breaking a rule…

  7. 1.  This morning in church I asked someone to slide down a couple seats so that my husband, who would be serving communion, could be on the aisle. They moved completely away, saying it was OK, they could sit anywhere. I felt so guilty. Sitting there, I had to explore what I was feeling. Layers. That is what it was. I felt guilty for not just choosing a different spot. Why didn’t I think outside my normal box? I felt anger that they would show me up in that way; being willing to sit anywhere. I felt I didn’t want to lose face or have them think less of me. I felt dirty that I would do that to a brother/friend, which I would never do to a visitor. I felt exposed to being the sinner that I am.

     

    Dee, I have to ask what you mean by ‘strophe’? I looked it up, but am not share if you were saying that in every verse the pain is increasing, or something else.

    1. Mary B–so appreciate your transparency here, and such a great “everyday” example of how easily our sin seeps in.

  8. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

    “We really do not comprehend just how serious sin is.” 

    Last week’s sermon really reawakened me to my sin and its cost. I thought about what I tend to fear rather than God–health, for my children, and man’s approval. I believe that God, in His mercy, knows that we cannot handle knowing how truly grievous our sin is, for it would break us, and yet, I want to deepen my awareness. Because I know the more I face my depravity, the more I run to the Cross and depend on it alone.

    I’ve just begun to look at the psalm, and my heart is heavy. I look forward to gleaning its wisdom and applying it. Thankful for Dee’s good teaching for such a difficult passage!

    The artwork and music are phenomenal. Really captures the emotions.

  9. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

    It is so true that “we really do not comprehend just how serious sin is.” We do not see the depths of the blackness of our own heart.

    The artwork and the song are amazing as others have commented. The anguish in the faces, the hopelessness combined with the despair of the Psalm. No words really!

  10. 2. Psalm 137…describe some of the pain God’s people were feeling.
    God’s people were treated with incredible brutality, inhuman treatment by the Babylonians…killing innocent, defenseless babies…the people were in a sense of mourning, all was lost,but life and Lord.

    3. Psalm 137:1-3…describe and scenes and what their tormentors asked them to do.  Does the above clip give you any emplathing into their emotions?
    The Babylonians were mocking the people and their Lord, the Babylonians were telling the people to sing songs of worship and praise  sung to the Lord, taunting that their God have left them to this misery.
    “Twelve Years a Slave” was a difficult movie to watch…it sickens me to see how people were treated so inhumanly.

    4. How do you glimpse their resolve to resist in v. 2?
    Their harps were hung in trees.

    5. What question do they ask in v. 4? Why is what they are being asked to do feel impossible to them?
    They are being asked to sing their sacred songs to the Babylonians for entertainment.  It feels sacrilegious to them.

  11. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

    The agony and the pain of the people because they sinned against God.

    Do I see the seriousness of sin in my own life?  Is my heart repentent?  Is my focus on God?  Does my heart break with the things that break His heart?

    Very sobering!!

     

     

    1. Sharon, I love your questions. Those are such hard ones to ask ourselves but so important and thank you for reminding me to ask myself this this morning.

      1. Thank you Rebecca…very hard indeed!

  12. 6. The judgment of God that they are experiencing is doing a work in their hearts. How do you see this in verses 5-6?

    Underneath their sin is their faith-the Hope God set in their hearts and their affection for Him is still there but it took being stripped for them to cling to him again. It is proven when they say may my tongue stick to my mouth and my right hand forget it’s skill if I don’t remember Jerusalem and consider it my highest joy.

    7. Paul tells us we reap what we sow. While the judgment for our sin fell upon Christ, we will bear the fruit of sin in this life. What are some ways that your idols have put you in chains, have hurt your relationships, and have stolen your joy?

    I went to my comfort idol for relief from relational and other pain, and you all know this story but there is a bit more to it as I reflect. I could say instead of hiding my head in the sand for relief from pain I hid my head in food. Instead of working through painful issues trusting God to empower me and trusting Him to be my comfort I trusted food-second helpings of dinners high in carbs along with pies at night. First and foremost it affected my intimacy with God for I didn’t lament at all- and very soon I was in chains. It stole my joy and hurt my relationships for they were shallow-I began to cut people off because I didn’t want to risk being hurt. I was afraid to take a chance and open up to anyone. The relationships where I needed healing-the closest one to me- wasn’t being nurtured and was hurting because I wasn’t working through issues we might have-just acted as if they weren’t there. I also gained a lot of weight which made me depressed and pulled me deeper in.

  13. 1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

     

    Looking at the painting, each person in it is in great pain and distress, but also, each seems to be ALONE in their pain. They are all together, but at the same time, alone. I don’t see them comforting each other. Perhaps this pictures what it feels like to really feel abandoned by God. But one man is looking up towards heaven; maybe he has a little bit of hope that God will help.

     

    2. Read Psalm 137 in its entirety. You will be shocked, but read it all and then describe some of the pain God’s people were feeling.

     

    The people are weeping as they remember the past, their homeland. They describe their captors as “tormentors” – so they were being goaded, mocked, humiliated, degraded and dehumanized. The betrayal and viciousness of the Edomites is mentioned (aren’t they the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother?) how they were crying out for Jerusalem to be torn down to its foundations.

    The last verse I have a question about: it is talking about Babylon being paid-back for what they did to the Israelites, and when it says, “he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks” – it sounds to me like it is talking about doing this to the infants of the Babylonians, unless I am not understanding this?

  14. 2. Read Psalm 137 in its entirety. You will be shocked, but read it all and then describe some of the pain God’s people were feeling.

     

    They were desperate to feel better.  They were humiliated since they were being mocked. They were sad that they couldn’t remember better times easily.

     
    3. Read Psalm 137:1-3 and describe the scene and what their tormentors asked them to do. Does the above clip give you any empathy into their emotions?
     

    They were asked to sing songs of Zion. The clip is very hard to watch for me. I grew up in the South and we were very sensitive to the “N” word. You did not use it. I feel that way to this day. It is disturbing how the slaves are being mocked.

     
    4. How do you glimpse their resolve to resist in verse 2? 
     

    It’s as if they are hanging the instruments to give up? They are done singing, since they are in misery.

     
    5. What question do they ask in verse 4? Why is what they are being asked to do feel impossible to them? 
     

    They ask how they are able to sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? I guess singing the Lord’s song is a joyous thing and they aren’t feeling very joyous at this point.

  15. 2.  The Psalm by verse shows pain:

    1). The pain of homesickness, remembering Zion

    2).  They hung their harps on trees, having no homes to put them in

    3).  They are taunted to sing joyfully

    4).  They have been cast out of the Promised Land

    5).  Feeling the loss of their identity

    6).  Thinking their best and highest is behind them

    7).  Anger at their distant relatives, who joined in destroying them

    8).  Calling down destruction for Babylon….

    9).  …all the way to the worst atrocities committed against them

  16. 2. Describe some of the pain God’s people were feeling in Psalm 137.

    Sadness, torment and fear

    3. Describe the scene and what the tormentors asked them to do.  

    They’re sitting by the rivers of Babylon weeping as they remember Zion.  Their harps hanging on the trees as their tormentors demand a song-a joyful hymn, asking they sing a song of Jerusalem.

    Yes, the above clip does give me empathy into their emotions…how torturous to be reminded of where you came from, what was left behind and where you’re at now!

  17. 4. How do you glimpse their resolve in verse 2?

    Giving up – not wanting to be reminded of better days.

    5. What question do they ask in verse 4?  Why is what they are being asked to do feel impossible?

    How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a pagan land?

    They’re in a pagan land and their longing for Jerusalem is deep and painful!

  18. 3.  The movie clip shows such unfeeling, unthinking, wanton trampling of identity, worth, and hope for the future. It shows them seeking to instill despair, despondency, and loss of will. I agree with Laura. I found it very disturbing and I am glad I didn’t see the whole movie.

     

    4.  They resolve to resist the taunting by not touching the harps, keeping them at arm’s length. In effect, refusing to sing.

     

    5.  They ask ‘how can we sing the joy of Jerusalem in a foreign place?’ It feels impossible because Jerusalem as they had known it no longer existed. Everything it stood for in the people’s eyes had been conquered and destroyed.

  19. 6. The judgment of God that they are experiencing is doing a work in their hearts. how do you see this in v. 5-6?
    They don’t want to ever again forget the Lord; they establish consequences they will willingly suffer should they drift away again from the Lord.

    7. What are some ways that your idols have put you in chains, have hurt your relationship, and have stolen your joy?
    Literally time and energy wasted in allowing myself to be shadowed with a sense of “not being good enough,” and going to extremes to get approval/affirmation to prove to myself that I was good enough, of course never quite convincing myself regardless of my efforts.  The continuum ranges from loss of self-respect to resentment of time and energy expended.

    8. Explain this resolve to “set Jerusalem above my highest joy”…how could you apply this?
    Focusing on the Lord, the unchanging, faithful, loving, merciful, all powerful Lord Almighty.

    I need to keep reminding myself that I am a daughter of the Lord…His is the only opinion that truly matters, and He calls me His beloved.  His opinion is solid and unchanging…He is good and I am loved.  The only One who is enough is the Lord, and in Him I am enough.

    9. In Psalm 137:7, what are God’s people remembering?
    Their captors

    10. In Psalm 137:8-9, what do they ask God to do?
    Full retaliation on the Babylonians for what they had done…”an eye for an eye” justice.

    1. Nanci–I appreciate your answer to #7. I relate to that lie of not measuring up and the futility & exhaustion it can lead to. So thankful for you and your wisdom.

  20. 1.   Read Psalm 137 in its entirety. You will be shocked, but read it all and then describe some of the pain God’s people were feeling.
    We sat and wept-one cannot stand and hold himself/herself up when one is overwhelmed by grief. Your feet will not be able to hold you.
    I will hang my guitar and not have the energy to play it when grief overwhelms me.
    Only when one is in pain would one say the prayer on vs 7-9
    It is heart rending to see the face of Northup as the slave trader sang in mockery. That could do me in.
     
    1.   Read Psalm 137:1-3 and describe the scene and what their tormentors asked them to do. Does the above clip give you any empathy into their emotions?
    Their harps were hung on the poplars and their tormentors asked them to sing songs of joy. Yes, the clip was very painful to watch.
     
    2.   How do you glimpse their resolve to resist in verse 2?
    They hang their harps up on the poplars.
     
    3.   What question do they ask in verse 4? Why is what they are being asked to do feel impossible to them?
    They can’t sing when asked to do so when they are in a foreign land.
     

  21. 2. The people were in deep agony, weeping, and bowing to the ground, covering their heads, one man looked up as if he was seeking God.

    The consequences of sin make us feel so unworthy, even causing physical feelings of gnawing in the stomach.

    3. The conquerors mocked them, by telling them to sing one of the songs of Zion. The movie showed such demeaning mockery to the slaves, as these people must have felt. I cannot imagine the mothers of the infants who were dashed against the rocks….

    4. They hung up their harps, determined not to sing without joy.

    5. How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land?

  22. Sunday:
     
    1. What stands out to you from the above, and why? – “We really don’t comprehend just how serious sin is. One of the purposes of Lent is to help us see how our idolatry grieves a holy God, so that we may truly repent, remove the false lover and experience His filling.” I love this Dee. I can see even in my own life, just the little things that don’t seem like the ‘normal’ sin that I continue to do without realizing it until after I’ve done it. Why do I continue to be so blind to what the enemy is putting in my head and my heart. The little digs to someone that may come flying up on me while I’m driving just to pass me and cut me off. These things that I say are sin and each time I do it, I grieve my heavenly Father. Lord, please stifle my words so I don’t say what I shouldn’t say and put the words in my mouth that you want me to say. I long to have pleasantness come out of my mouth. 
     

  23. 3. Read Psalm 137:1-3 and describe the scene and what their tormentors asked them to do. Does the above clip give you any empathy into their emotions? – They were weeping when they had thoughts of Zion come back to them. They didn’t want to play their harps like they were used to doing and their tormentors wanted them to sing songs of joy. Reading this is timely as I just came back from seeing Tortured for Christ. What the followers of Christ did in this movie is just what was being done to the children of God. The clip, the song the psalm, all showed how they were treated because they followed Christ and their captors with the devil himself with no regard to human life. 
     
    4. How do you glimpse their resolve to resist in verse 2? – I am wondering if by hanging their harps on the tree that they were far enough away from them that they would not fall to the request of the captors, but stand for their belief in Christ.
     
    5. What question do they ask in verse 4? Why is what they are being asked to do feel impossible to them? – They ask how they can sing songs of the Lord in a foreign land. I think because they know they are being mocked and their captors don’t truly care about them that it makes it hard for them to feel from their hearts at this time. Perhaps they feel abandoned and alone.
     

  24. 6. The judgment of God that they are experiencing is doing a work in their hearts. How do you see this in verses 5-6?

     

    They are lamenting about Jerusalem; how they miss it. They are trying to make punishments for themselves to see it again.

     
    7. What are some ways that your idols have put you in chains, have hurt your relationships, and have stolen your joy?
     

    I have been wrapped up so tightly with my idols that I forget to take care of the people I love. They are on the back burner; it is selfish. Because of this I am unable to enjoy the relationships to their fullest extent.

     
    8. Looking again at Psalm 137:5-6, remember that God’s people had made idols their highest joy. So now, explain this resolve to “set Jerusalem above my highest joy!” How could you apply this?
     

    They realize they need to make God number one in their lives. He wants them in His city. I can keep my eye on the prize. In doing that I will reap good things.

     
    9. In Psalm 137:7, what are God’s people remembering? 

    They remember the destruction of Jerusalem.

    10. In Psalm 137:8-9, what do they ask God to do?
     

    They ask a blessing to the One who stands up and repays for the devastation of their city.  They acknowledge that payment will come. They ask Him to repay their oppressors with the same treatment they were given; dashing their babies against the rocks.

     

  25. 11. What do you think of Lewis’ application? Is this helpful to you in praying against the siren call of your idol? If so, do it!

    Well, what stuck with me was praying against the siren call of my idol-when my sin is small. That verse in Genesis comes to mind that sin is crouching at my door and it desires to have me but I must rule over it. YES, this is so helpful for me. I “know” it but I don’t make it a habit and I can easily justify my small sin!! That frustrates me about myself, and so I needed to hear this!

    1. Rebecca–yes, me too. “I can easily justify my small sin!!”

  26. Tuesday: Psalm 137 – Part II.
    1.   6. The judgment of God that they are experiencing is doing a work in their hearts. How do you see this in verses 5-6?
    Forgetting the skill of my right hand (as a majority of people are right handed) and the tongue clinging to the roof of my mouth, I believe are hyperboles. This means they would be keenly aware if they are drifting from what they should be doing and that is not forgetting Jerusalem.
     
    7. Paul tells us we reap what we sow. While the judgment for our sin fell upon Christ, we will bear the fruit of sin in this life. What are some ways that your idols have put you in chains, have hurt your relationships, and have stolen your joy?
    I know for me one example is my idol of control and comfort has hurt my relationship with my daughter. It has put me in bondage of worry, unnecessary tears, physical symptoms like headache stealing my joy.
    Being here on the blog, and reading God’s Word has opened my eyes to my chains and although I go back periodically to my default mode of worrying, I am quicker to acknowledge is at such and turn to God for help.
    2.   8. Looking again at Psalm 137:5-6, remember that God’s people had made idols their highest joy. So now, explain this resolve to “set Jerusalem above my highest joy!” How could you apply this?
    The picture below tugged at my heart. Over 1600 miles and perhaps 4 months traveling to their land of bondage! The children! And so much tears. Some of these Israelites could have died along the way-we know what awful grief can do to the physical body.
    As I look at the picture I saw a downhill move of the travelers so it makes sense to say metaphorically to have the resolve to “set Jerusalem as their highest joy”! In a sense to look up, to the One who will redeem them once more.
    Application: not to settle for the “lows” (material wealth, worldly appetites, power, acclaim etc) the world has to offer but to always look to Jesus as my source of joy.

    1. Bing–I like this “: not to settle for the “lows” (material wealth, worldly appetites, power, acclaim etc) the world has to offer but to always look to Jesus as my source of joy.”

       

  27. 4. How do you glimpse their resolve to resist in verse 2?

    When I first read verse 2, before I got to the other verses — and before I had listened to the music, I thought this meant that they hung up their lyres — as in giving up.  But really, they were preparing, planning ahead to  remember God, to set Jerusalem above their highest joy.

    I had so many emotions when reading and listening to this passage, including anger.  I wanted to beat up the tormenters (and I haven’t beat up anyone since my sisters and I fought as kids!  I was surprised by that reaction).

    This definitely shows me the importance of preparing ahead of time (in this verse, when life was only moderately bad) so that He is my highest joy, even during extreme suffering.  Seems like this could apply during progressive illnesses, too.

    This is a hard psalm — makes me sorta sick.  If I would have been paying more attention, I wouldn’t have first read it when I was eating breakfast.  I guess if I experience mild nausea every time I think of the psalm, I can turn that into a reminder to develop the habit of setting “Jerusalem above my highest joy.”

     

  28. Check out this:  Rivers of Babylon by the Melodians.  The song also includes “so let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight…”   Good application.

    In the comments, someone asked “Who are the 46 dislikes? How?” and one of the responses was “by the Babylonians” 😀

    1. Just listened to a music video of this that included some more modern images.  Got me thinking about refugees in light of this passage.

    2. Renee, it is good to see you here. Thanks for the song from the Melodians. I agree with the feelings of anger as I read and watched the clip and viewed the painting. Such tragedy!

  29. 1.   In Psalm 137:7, what are God’s people remembering?
    The way they were treated by the Edomites  and how they mocked in derision over the tearing down of Jerusalem. I was curious why Edom was mentioned here and found a book commentary on Edom as representative of any nation that is against Israel.  Long standing since Jacob and Esau and thereby must have been talked about from generation to generation. And Babylon in similar fashion. (Bert Dicou) I don’t want to get sidetracked here but was interested in history.
     
    2.   In Psalm 137:8-9, what do they ask God to do?
    To destroy Babylon and to do a payback in that their infants would be dashed to the rocks as they have done to the Israelites. Wow! Take them out, Lord. I am praying for some people to be taken out of my daughter’s life yet pray for their salvation as well. Hard to do.
     

  30. 6.  These verses show a turning, choosing to remember and regard God as primary instead of running to idols.

     

    7.  I think of David, who, while forgiven, had a sword that never left his family. Or the story of nails in a board that can be removed, but not the holes that had been made. My idols have cost me the freedom to speak for Christ at some times and places. They have ruined some relationships, while others have become strained and stiff. They have stolen my joy and brought bitterness into my memories. They have also cast a shadow over my hopes and dreams, knowing how fragile they can be, with me the bull in the China shop.

     

    8.  My version says “if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy…”. Yours, Dee, makes a clearer cut case for choosing God above idols. Yet I can look at mine and see the same message there. To say no to idols that bring calamity and yes to God, Who deserves the best.

     

    9.  They are remembering how the Edomites reacted to the carnage, and their hatred toward their Jewish cousins.

  31. 6. The judgment of God that they are experiencing is doing a work in their hearts. How do you see this in verses 5-6?

    The language changes from “we” to  “I”…becomes personal.  To play the harp for “my” tormentors would be to forget Jerusalem.  “I’d” rather forget how to play the harp and sing…”I’d” rather make Jerusalem my greatest joy!

    7.  Ways my idols have put me in chains, hurt my relationships and have stolen my joy.

    Realizing that my idols stem from needing affirmation and comfort is the step I’m still on..it hurts to see what they have done to my relationships and even my joy!  There are so many layers to it and this study is helping me peel those away…slowly!  I hope that makes sense.

    8.  Explain this resolve to “set Jerusalem above my highest joy!”  How could you apply this?  

    I look at it more as making Jerusalem my highest joy rather than above my highest joy.

    I want to make the Lord my highest joy…  Loving Him with all my heart,soul,strength and mind.  I look at my heart idols and think am I willing to to give these up for my Highest Joy?  It is a process but in my heart I really do!!

    9. In Psalm 137:7, what are God’s people remembering?

    How the Edomites on the day the armies of Babylon captured Jerusalem yelled “destroy it!” “Level it to the ground!”

    10. In Psalm 137:8-9, what do they ask God to do?

    Destroy Babylon, pay them back for what they did to them and take their babies and smash them against the rocks.

     

     

     

  32. Tuesday: Psalm 137 – Part II.
     
    6. The judgment of God that they are experiencing is doing a work in their hearts. How do you see this in verses 5-6? – From what I’m seeing they will not be able to perform the simple tasks that they used to do and will not be able to speak on what they know any longer because they are being kept from praising the Only One that can help them, but may be afraid to do so because of their captors.
     
    7. Paul tells us we reap what we sow. While the judgment for our sin fell upon Christ, we will bear the fruit of sin in this life. What are some ways that your idols have put you in chains, have hurt your relationships, and have stolen your joy? – My idol of acceptance and control, have given me a bad attitude where I mumble and comment under my breath, taking away the good that I should be speaking. I feel sorry for myself instead of breaking those chains and releasing it all to God. I’m working this year on the word release and I have seen some changes in the right direction.
     
    8. Looking again at Psalm 137:5-6, remember that God’s people had made idols their highest joy. So now, explain this resolve to “set Jerusalem above my highest joy!” How could you apply this? – By putting Jerusalem above their highest joy, it seems that they want to get right with God again and have nothing else above Him.
    9. In Psalm 137:7, what are God’s people remembering? – They are remembering what their captors did and asking the Lord to take care of them and help his children overcome the torment.
     
    10. In Psalm 137:8-9, what do they ask God to do? – What I get out of this, is that they have gotten right with the Lord and feel his presence in their lives again and have the strength to fight back with the Lord’s help.

     

  33. 11. What do you think of Lewis’ application? Is this helpful to you in praying against the siren call of your idol? If so, do it!

     

    I’m not sure I really understand this quote at all. I’m going to read and re-read to ponder on it today and come back to it tonight.

     

     

    12. What do you think of Kidner’s application? (Comment on any ot the points.) Whether or not you agree with the third, we do know Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. How might you pray for your “enemies?”

     

    Same here, although I find this easier.

    1. 11. I guess I can see that what we consider small sins can blow into much larger troubles if we aren’t careful. I have a standard action if I walk into a room where people are gossiping; I leave. I know if I walk in there is potential to join them and I don’t want to do that. It’s harder with food, but I have been known to stay in my bedroom so I am not physically near the kitchen.

       

      12. I get the first, to read and accept it for what it is and to lament to God about the specific trial you have. I don’t understand the second really, and the phrase “pray down reconciliation” on the third is confusing. Reconciliation means to make up with a person with whom you have a disagreement. To pray it down? Does that mean to pray for reconciliation? These are very hard questions!

    2. 12. What do you think of Lewis’ application?  Is this helpful to you in praying against the siren call of your idol?  

      I have to admit I read and reread this and what finally hit me was… “in resisting them(small indulgences, resentments etc) we feel we are being cruel to animals.”  I love animals!!  This is a real struggle in dealing with an idol.  It can be justifiable.  What’s wrong with just this once?  Well, maybe one more time or bite because…  I like Lewis’ idea of praying against our own evil sin before it takes a foothold and we’re unable to resist it!

       

  34. 10.  They ask God to take vengeance and retribution on Babylon.

     

    11.  I’d never heard Lewis’ slant on imprecatory Psalms, but I like it and want to try using it. To pray against my own evil, especially in the infant stage.

     

    12.  Kidner’s first two points I am good with, but the third is a little harder to swallow. I can sooner pray for my enemies by asking God to reveal to me the ways in which they are acting out of pain or sin in their own lives and need Him.

  35. 3. Read Psalm 137:1-3 and describe the scene and what their tormentors asked them to do. Does the above clip give you any empathy into their emotions?

    It’s only a minute long but I couldn’t. I couldn’t watch through with the volume. I tried a 2nd time and made myself listen to the white man at the end and I honestly felt sick in my stomach. Racism, now, and especially slavery, truly makes me feel physically ill. But yes, the clip was very effective at helping me visualize and empathize.

    4. How do you glimpse their resolve to resist in verse 2?

    They hung their harps, refusing to play for their captors.

    5. What question do they ask in verse 4? Why is what they are being asked to do feel impossible to them?

    They ask, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”

    They know their captors have no regard, no reverence or respect, for God, and the idea of singing holy songs in the presence of such evil feels impossible.

     6. The judgment of God that they are experiencing is doing a work in their hearts. How do you see this in verses 5-6?

    They do not want to forget the goodness of the Lord.

    7. Paul tells us we reap what we sow. While the judgment for our sin fell upon Christ, we will bear the fruit of sin in this life. What are some ways that your idols have put you in chains, have hurt your relationships, and have stolen your joy?

    Struggling to find the words I want to use for specifics here, but several relationships and instances come to mind. The pattern is usually that I try to control how another person treats me. In certain situations, I have my own definition of what it would look like to show love and if they violate it, I tend towards self-protection, building a wall, instead of turning to the Lord and staying open, soft.

     

  36. 8. Looking again at Psalm 137:5-6, remember that God’s people had made idols their highest joy. So now, explain this resolve to “set Jerusalem above my highest joy!” How could you apply this?

    Today I have lived as though my “highest joy” is keeping my family happy with me, or having a fuss-free, complaint-free, “easy” life. It hasn’t gone too well. Actually, I just came in from hiding out in the car while I cried aloud to God asking Him to give me a chance to breathe. BUT, if I remember that the only way I can experience real peace is by running to Him instead of sitting in the overwhelmed state of taking care of everyone… if I make HIM my highest joy, my sustenance, my food, then I can breathe. It’s hard. Everyone seems to need something from me and the caretaker in me tries so hard to please. But my old strength just doesn’t cut it anymore. Yet I have to keep reminding myself that the ONE thing I need is Him. And He says that if I seek Him, cast my burdens on Him, He will renew my strength. He will be my shelter and my joy.

     

    1. Oh, Lizzy, “the caretaker in me tries so hard to please.” Yes, I so relate to this- “to keep reminding myself that the ONE thing I need is Him.”

      You share so transparently and bring out such truth.

    2. Lizzy, the caretaker in me…I do empathize. I am letting the Lord help me to point people to Him instead of me. We just love so much and it is easy to get lost in the process. God, help us!

    3. Oh Lizzy…Wish I could be there to give you a huge hug. This resonates, and I can so relate with you.

  37. 6. The judgment of God was doing a work in their hearts. Oh yes, they said, “May my right hand forget its skill, and may my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth…” These are such descriptive terms for the agony they must be feeling. “If I do not remember Jerusalem…”

    7. Paul tells us we reap what we sow. My idol of worry, a piece of my codependency trait,  has hurt my relationships with God, my husband and my adult children. When I have not trusted others to carry their responsibilities, they have not been entrusted to do their part in the relationship. The greatest offense has been to God: I need to trust Him, to lean on Him completely. When I looked at these issues, I felt heartbroken. Sadly the damage cannot be removed when it comes to adult children.

    8. God’s people had made their idols their highest joy. I think this means they were expressing their sadness,(when they repeated If I forget you, O Jerusalem) but I am not sure.

    9. God’s people are remembering the Edomites’ cries, “Tear it down to its foundations.” This was devastating- the extreme to which they carried the punishment to the Israelites.

    10. What do they ask God to do? To repay the Babylonians for their violence to innocent infants.

    The payment for their sins was more than they could bear.

     

  38. 11. What do you think of Lewis’ application? Is this helpful to you in praying against the siren call of your idol? If so, do it!
    Yes, it is very helpful. Nipping it in the bud. To pray against our own evil sin and Satan. The thought life is such a powerful place that the enemy has used in my life before. Praying against him and using the Word of God as my sword has been very helpful and the psalms is a great part of the Bible that has helped me.
    12. What do you think of Kidner’s application? (Comment on any ot the points.)
    I looked up the word distill to clarify the word in my mind. It means to purify (a liquid) by vaporizing it, then condensing it by cooling the vapor, and collecting the resulting liquid. Synonyms: purify, refine, filter, treat, process. To extract the essential meaning or most important aspects of. I don’t think he means obsessive introspection but to filter and process to a point of not only understanding but feeling the raw pain and not glossing over it. Hard to do as even the physical body can respond in a violent way (receiving the impact of it.) And if I have an idol of comfort, I may disengage myself from reality or respond in an ungodly way to it.
    Whether or not you agree with the third, we do know Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. How might you pray for your “enemies?”
    Pray for reconciliation and really mean it but when judgment to our enemies comes, not to gloat over it? God is my defense and He is the righteous judge.

  39. 13. What comments do you have on Miroslav Volf’s thoughts? How do you feel about praying that God will take vengeance on evil?
    I remember talking to one of the older ladies at our former church about Osama Bin Ladin when he was on the run. Although very keenly aware of the atrocities he has inflicted on many people, she told me she was praying for him to hear of God’s message of salvation through Christ. My heart made a jolt because inside I have prayed for God to take him out of this world. And later when the news broke that he was found and killed, I had the ambivalent feelings of triumph and sadness. Triumph because his type of evil, though living on in his cronies, was gone. Sadness because of the thought that he went to hell. How God must have felt-I cannot imagine. Yet, I have to believe that God is holy and that He alone has the final word.
    I do believe in praying against my sin and the grasp that the enemy is talking a hold of me with. And praying for discernment  and a keen awareness of his work in my life and to run to the Lord for protection and wisdom.

  40. 13.  Volf’s thoughts ring true to me. When someone is in immense pain because of evil done to them, only God’s justice will give relief. It is a travesty, in my mind, to say that rape, murder, torture, genocide, etc, can be quietly swept under a rug. To say to the perpetrator it’s Okay, it doesn’t really matter, is wrong. It does matter, or the people who suffered the pain don’t matter. But recognizing that Christ paid for even their sins means His mercy is just as available for them as for me.

  41. 3. Read Psalm 137:1-3 and describe the scene and what their tormenters asked them to do. Does the above clip give you any empathy into their emotions?

     

    The Israelites are captives in Babylon, and they are weeping. Their captors are completely insensitive to and uncaring about their sorrow, and they demand that they sing songs of joy. After watching the above clip, I can imagine the Babylonians watching their faces for a reaction, because they would get pleasure from knowing they were inflicting even more pain. And the captives; some of them might have been getting really angry inside, but knowing that if they lashed out at their captors, they would suffer more consequences, so they had to hold it inside.

     

    4. How do you glimpse their resolve to resist in verse 2?

     

    They hang their harps on the branches of the trees, so they are refusing to play them.

     

    5. What question do they ask in verse 4? Why is what they are being asked to do feel impossible to them?

     

    They ask, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” The songs of the Lord have meaning to them; they’re not just any songs, they are sacred and special. How can they sing these songs while surrounded by mockers who do not believe in their God, who have no regard for Him? It’s like sharing something so deep with someone who couldn’t care less.

     

    6. The judgment of God that they are experiencing is doing a work in their hearts. How do you see this in verses 5-6?

     

    They are not willing to go along with the Babylonians, nor be assimilated into their culture and just forget about who they really are and where they came from, and who is their God. They are clinging to Him – though these verses mention Jerusalem as being their highest joy, I don’t believe that the city and God are separated in their hearts and minds. They are expressing a longing to return home and to return to their God.

     

    7. Paul tells us we reap what we sow. While the judgment for our sin fell upon Christ, we will bear the fruit of sin in this life. What are some ways that your idols have put you in chains, have hurt your relationships, and have stolen your joy?

     

    Because I made my children my highest priority for years, and so wanted their approval and affirmation, and the comfort and security of their presence, and even to have some kind of power and control in their lives, when they grew up and moved away, it left me feeling empty, lonely, and without purpose. I’ve learned that when you look to other people to meet your deepest longings and needs to be loved, when they let you down, as they will because they’re not meant to do that, it leaves you feeling broken, hurt and disappointed. It can hurt your relationships with others because they will sense the pressure on them to meet those needs. The loss of joy when something in my life is taken away is a big clue that it was an idol.

     

    8. Looking again at Psalm 137:5-6, remember that God’s people had made idols their highest joy. So now, explain this resolve to “set Jerusalem above my highest joy!” How could you apply this?

     

    My NIV translates this “….if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.” Again, I don’t think they are merely talking about the city itself, as just a place or an object. The temple was in Jerusalem, and so was God’s presence. They have been stripped of everything they had, the things they had made their highest joy above God and worshipping Him. I know that there is nothing wrong for me to love my children and to love being a mom and the time I spend with them, but if they are my highest joy, then it is idolatry. I must remember to put God first as the Giver of the very good gift of my children, and worship Him and not them. And it is so easy to worship the good things in my life – family, relationships, money, my job, the education/success of my children, the desire for the perfect marriage.

     

    1. oh Susan–wisdom just pours forth from you–beauty from pain: “I’ve learned that when you look to other people to meet your deepest longings and needs to be loved, when they let you down, as they will because they’re not meant to do that, it leaves you feeling broken, hurt and disappointed. It can hurt your relationships with others because they will sense the pressure on them to meet those needs. The loss of joy when something in my life is taken away is a big clue that it was an idol.”

      1. Lizzy, to be honest, it’s not my wisdom, but everything I’ve learned here; from Dee, from Idol Lies, from Tim Keller, and even other pastors who I listen to their sermons are talking about idolatry – Chip Ingram is one as well. I think it was Keller who explained that when you lose something, the deeper the hurt you experience shows that it was an idol. And yet – I continue to struggle with this because I love being a mom and I dreamed of my kids living at least relatively close-by, and one day, grandchildren who I could babysit sometimes and they could spend the night with me. After Adam moved away last May, we went eight months before seeing him again. It’s hard for me to maintain a feeling of closeness to my son when I don’t get to see him very often; phone calls and texts just don’t do that for me!

        1. Susan–I am so sorry for your heartache. I hope one day Adam and Ryan & Melanie will all be close by–they really are so blessed to have you.

          Quick side note–I was thinking of you recently because I went in “H’s” room the other night & heard a voice I recognized–asked him what it was and he said “oh, I listen to Chip Ingram every night”..and then went on to list “Tony Evans” and all his favorites! But Chip Ingram always makes me think of you 😉

          You ARE wiser than you know Susan, and such a gift here.

    2. Susan, The loss of joy when something in my life is taken away is a big clue that it was an idol. SO good and He used your comment this morning to help me address and turn from a rising idol inside. I have noticed that as I am training in my new job I miss the affirmation I received in my old job-sad and frustrating for me, but true. I am noticing all these small sins arising inside with my thought life-this desire to be appreciated and loved by my new co-workers-approval idol. I know this is necessary for Him to transform me though so while I hate it I am glad it is coming to the surface again so I can fight it with the truth of His approval-all I need- and so I can give my best at work for His glory, not mine. That is the truth, and where my heart needs to be.

      1. Rebecca, I understand this, but also, because in the last two years I changed jobs, it is hard to come into a new job, a new situation, and a new set of co-workers (and a new boss) and to have to wait and see how you will fit in. I felt some of that at my last job (doing call-backs) and my new job (home care) because when you come in, the group is already established and you’re the newcomer and don’t know anyone. At first, you feel left out of their conversations, and I think it’s natural to want to be accepted and liked; yet, we have to be careful not to let that become an idol of approval/affirmation. We do have a desire to want to belong and to be accepted. I will pray for you in your new job!

  42. 9. In Psalm 137:7, what are God’s people remembering?

     

    How the Edomites were ecstatic at the fall of Jerusalem, and how they weren’t satisfied until it was torn down to its foundations.

     

    10. In Psalm 137:8-9, what do they ask God to do?

     

    They want God to repay the Babylonians for what they have done to them, including killing their infants.

  43. 11. What do you think of Lewis’ application? Is this helpful to you in praying against the siren call of your idol? If so, do it!

    I have always had a sensitive/heavy conscience, but in the last several years I have been thankful for it and noticed even more the Spirit’s nudge when I am trying to ignore a “small” sin. Just yesterday, I realized a mistake I’d made at work, and while I corrected it, I prayed those affected by it wouldn’t notice. Then I felt the nudge. I went to those affected and told them my mistake. Now, I do work for a church!, but the grace given in response was so sweet, and I felt so washed—it was freedom from my idol of wanting to appear perfect in my job.

    12. What do you think of Kidner’s application? (Comment on any ot the points.) Whether or not you agree with the third, we do know Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. How might you pray for your “enemies?”

    I hate to admit this, but until a somewhat recent relational trial in my life, I had not experienced just how hard it can be to pray reconciliation instead of judgment on those who have deeply hurt me. But in reading Kidner’s last point just now, I thought about how scary it would be to have someone pray judgment to fall on me for my sins! And then I thought about the Cross. If I want these 2 people who are hurting me to be convicted, to feel His judgment, then am I saying the Cross wasn’t enough to cover them? He took their judgment. I want to be more like Christ than the opposition. Christ took the pain, all of it, in order to bring reconciliation—us to the Father. That was His entire mission of the Cross. How can I then NOT pray for reconciliation? By His grace, His strength, I join Him.

     

  44. 14. Consider Isaiah 13 which is “The oracle concerning Babylon.” Isaiah prophesies Babylon’s coming judgement, but at the same time describes “the day of Yaweh,” or that terrible final judgment. Read Isaiah 13:1-16 and find a prophesy that:

    A. Seems to fit just Babylon: v. 4-5 “The sound of a tumult is on the mountains as of a great multitude! The sound of an uproar of kingdoms, of nations gathering together! The Lord of hosts is mustering a host for battle. They come from a distant land, from the end of the heavens, the Lord and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.”

    B. Seems to fit just the Final Judgment: Several seem to fit to me, v.6-7 “Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! Therefore all hands will be feeble, and every human heart will melt.”

    C. Seems to fit both: vs. 11 “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.”

    15. How has this study caused you to reflect on the holiness of God and your own sin?

    This was a hard study to work through, but so good, so needed for me. I like how Sinclair Ferguson defines God’s holiness: “it is not something mechanical, or formal, or legal, or even performance based … it is personal…it is the intensity of the love that flows within the very being of God” (Devoted to God).

    God’s holiness is the essence of who He is, as He is love, He is holy. To think on that, and then see my sin—it is hard to find the words for the unworthiness I feel. This has been an interesting week. My 4 year old Philip, with us just 7 months now, has been traumatized since Sunday, after hearing about the Cross. Every day, several times a day, we hear “no Jesus Cross”, he just mumbles it all day. Yesterday I finally put away all our picture Bibles because he kept turning to the pictures of the cross and saying “no!” Every night this week, he says he wants to go “night night” but as soon as I leave he cries out “no cross” (we’ve resorted to Benadryl!) Today seems better so far, and I do know it will pass, the poor thing has just had such a crash course in our faith and didn’t have the foundation since infancy. But he has also experienced more physical pain that anyone in our family. I cannot entertain the stories I’ve heard of his orphanage, but with his scarred veins from years of harsh medical treatment, I know he feels something deep when he looks at the pictures of the Cross.

    Sorry this got so long! But the Lord has used this week’s study, and Philip’s reaction, to re-awaken my eyes, to the pain Christ suffered. And just how desperate my need of His grace is. The reality of what man, what I, am capable of in my sin, is horrifying. In doing this week’s study, a hymn that keeps coming to mind, is “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. I don’t want to take too much space with all the lyrics, but just this “Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God, He to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood. Oh to grace how great a debtor, Daily I’m constrained to be; Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love, Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above”

    OK—that got so long I’ll call it my take away too! 😉

     

    1. You know Lizzy, those of us who have been around the Christian block for awhile have to make ourselves pause and reflect on the “horrific-ness” of the Cross, but here is little Philip, and he gets it. It should cause us to say “No!”  In a way, it should be startling, but we’re so used to the story. I can only imagine what Mary felt, looking at her son dying, and John, and the others. Perhaps more than anyone else, Philip is able to identify with the physical pain of Jesus. I am sorry that it has upset him so, making it hard for him to sleep.

    2. Oh, Lizzy! Philip’s hurting and tender heart! What pain has he seen and felt! If he only could understand the depth of Christ’s love is taking on the pain of our sins on the Cross so that we can be freed. Praying for his tender heart! And may our own eyes be opened to see the horror and the love of the Cross!

  45. 13.  What comments do you have on Volfs thoughts?  How do you feel about praying that God will take vengeance on evil?

    I agree with him.  Living in a 3rd world country gives you a different slant on violence.  It’s atrocities taken out on innocent people usually for power and greed!

    I have prayed that prayer.

  46. How timely this post has been. It is difficult to know what to pray when there are enemies trying to take the people you love down. I have been struggling with anger toward those accusers the past two weeks. Through this study God reminded me that it is natural to have these feelings. I am not praying for vengeance on them but that He would change their broken and wounded hearts. Broken hearted people wound others.

    All the evil in this world is a reminder of WHY Jesus came.  He came for me, He came for those who mistreat, abuse, slander and do evil against others. God has soften my heart towards them. How can I pray for evil to fall on those also made in the image of the God who loves me?

    One day God will call all to account for the evil they have done, until then I will continue to lift them up before God in prayer.

  47. 11. What do you think of Lewis’ application? Is this helpful to you in praying against the siren call of your idol? If so, do it!

     

    I’m not sure what I think about applying Psalm 137 in this way. It seems to kind of take it out of the context for which it was written. I like Dee’s thoughts from The Songs better, about catching the “little foxes” before they become bigger and more destructive. I think of the warning to “see that no bitter root grows” (in you) and then “defiles many”. Sins can start out so small; we think they’re not that big a deal, but they can grow and cause real problems. Makes me think of my parent’s home; one year, the city came and planted small maple trees in the devil-strip, in front of all the homes on our street. The city could do that because they owned that strip of your lawn, right by the curb. My mom wouldn’t stand for it: though it was probably illegal, she had a tree removal company come and take down that tree! The other trees in front of other people’s houses grew, and as the roots spread, they spread out underneath the sidewalks and then the cement buckled and pushed portions of the sidewalk up. However, then it was the homeowner who was financially responsible to fix it! I guess the city planted the trees, thinking it would be aesthetic, but those trees became a real problem; they grew up into the power lines from the telephone poles, too.

  48. 12. What do you think of Kidner’s application? (Comment on any of the points) Whether or not you agree with the third, we do know Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. How might you pray for your “enemies”?

     

    The first two points: to distill the essence of it, and then to receive the impact of it. Looking at this psalm, I can put myself in the shoes of these people: they are hurting and desperate and hopeless. They are miserable, probably feel abandoned by God, long for the past and their home but realize there is no home to return to as Jerusalem was destroyed. The cruelty that man is capable of is hard to face; throwing an innocent baby against a rock; it makes me shudder. Yet this was the world the OT writers of the psalms lived in; as I read through the OT (in Joshua now), it is hard for me to read about the Israelites overthrowing the cities as they take possession of the land, leaving no survivors of these cities. That our calling is to pray down reconciliation….this is where I pause. It’s the same God of the OT and the NT. God did not command the Israelites to try to reconcile with their neighbors; they were commanded to destroy them. Then, Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. Perhaps a clue is, who do I consider to be my enemy? Someone who has offended me, stolen from me, lied to me? It isn’t my place to ask God to “destroy” them? I believe I am commanded to forgive – to not hold bitterness, resentment, or evil thoughts and attitudes towards them, but even when I forgive someone, reconciliation is not always possible, nor wise. So I’m not sure how I feel about reconciliation.

    I may not be able to reconcile with someone. For example, if a person in my family were to abuse one of my children, I would not allow that person back into my life to be near my child. Reconciliation isn’t always wise.

  49. 13. What comments do you have on Miroslav Volf’s thoughts? How do you feel about praying that God will take vengeance on evil?

    I wish I could remember, Dee, the name of the sermon you had us listen to, maybe two years ago? It was on one of the psalms where the psalmist is asking God to “break the teeth of the wicked”, and what it means to pray that God will stop the evil person. I only remember it was a good sermon. I think I can understand Volf’s thoughts – I live in suburban America and not in a war-ravaged land. Yet, even in suburban America – how are we to feel about a person who goes into a school and murders people with a semi-automatic weapon? Are we to feel sorry for them and their troubled childhood? What if I was the mother of one of those murdered children? Would I want God to take vengeance for the life of my child?

    Isn’t there a passage in Revelation about the martyred who are waiting for the day when God will avenge their blood? Wasn’t it Jonah who didn’t want to see the Ninevites repent and be spared, but for God to judge them? But they did repent, and God showed mercy. I guess we will struggle with these questions always; there are no easy answers.