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A Devo From Scot - Psalm 137 & 128

Dear Church,
 
Exile. Revival. Two words that have found a bit more traction in our current culture and setting. Without bringing an inappropriately faddish color to these two biblical words, I find they serve as a coordinated anchor to two consecutive psalms that I invite you to read today. First, begin with the very difficult language of Psalm 137.

Obviously written in the time of the exile of afterward (7th-6th Century BC), the first line sets the scene in Babylon. This perfectly matches the account of Daniel and others writing about this time. The first six verses of Psalm 137 describe the tension of living outside of “home.” This is all about exile. Home for the Jews, and for many centuries, had been Israel, the land of God’s promise. But no longer. The ones who did not die in the war, and the ones who were not left behind in the ashes, were brought to Babylon in chains and sorrow. That’s about an 800 mile trek. Exile was now the single word that best described their displacement, disintegration and disenchantment - even at times with God Himself.

The last three verses become a prayer to God, and an extremely difficult one at that. It is filled with unfiltered passion, praying that the same dastardly deeds done to their children be done to their captors. This is the pinnacle of raw, real, emotional vulnerability with God - the content of which is something that God may not fully condone, but always welcomes. Sometimes it can be ugly. If you’ve ever gone there, you know. If you haven’t, hold on to the idea. It will become useful at some point.
 
Now I invite you to continue by reading the next psalm, Psalm 138. This one is written by David, who obviously lived many centuries before the exile. Yet the Jewish compilers of the Psalms saw fit to place this psalm here, largely because it is an incredible counterpart to Psalm 137. Their historic arrangement of the book is filled with meaning and purpose.
 
Notice David’s mention of “kings of the earth” and “in the midst of trouble.” His words take the context of exile in the previous psalm and remind us of the undiminished power and grace of God, even in the midst of sorrow, shadow and displacement. David’s words here culminate in the hope of revival - which typically corresponds to exile, but is often disproportionately larger.

For decades now in the west and in our country, Jesus followers have been slowing experiencing exile. That makes these two psalms, among many others, powerfully relevant. I hope they encourage you towards honesty and vulnerability and then towards a deep revival of faith, hope and prayer. Remember hope is a fight - a good fight. And revival is always hard won.

I love you church,

Scot
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