How shall we sing the LORD's song In a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, Let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth— If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy. – Psalm 137v4-6
Anyone who has lived in a land which is not their birthland can identify with the sentiments of the psalmist here. Things are always different, especially if you grew up in the land of your birth. No matter how long you live in a foreign land the homeland has a special feeling. When you visit there you normally have a feeling of peace and normalcy. There is just something about the land where you grew up.
When things get difficult in the foreign land it is easy enough to blame it on the land. Some folks never adapt and spend their whole time in the foreign land in misery and longing to go hope. It can be hard to ‘sing the Lord’s songs’ in a foreign land.
The psalmist knew this. Jerusalem was his homeland. It is where they served the Lord with joy and gladness. It is where there were great memories of what it was like when God’s people got together and built each other up and edified each other. How can you sing about your circumstances with those kinds of memories?
I think we have a couple of applications. First there is a practical application. We live in an age when dwelling in a ‘foreign land’ is no longer unusual. People emigrate and immigrate with regularity. Ireland, for example, is full of foreigners. For many of us living for Christ here is nothing like it was ‘back home.’ We don’t have the big churches and massive numbers of Christian friends. We don’t have all the things that our physical Jerusalem offered. We certainly ‘get it.’
With that in mind we apply this passage. The lesson is not only for those of us who live in a foreign land. All believers live in a similar state. This world is not our home. We all long for our heavenly Jerusalem We look forward to our heavenly home, but we still have to live here. Let’s not allow this foreign land to become the place that we praise and exalt. Let us rejoice and exalt our heavenly home. Let our primary attention be our heavenly goal.
If we can do that our geography of our earthly tabernacle won’t be all that important.