1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?
I have an autoharp – actually, I have two.
<- This one is an Oscar Schmidt 21-chord; I also have a 15-chord. I really enjoy my autoharps because they are simple – nothing complicated – just handmade beauty that anyone can use to create wonderful sound. The best thing about an autoharp is you don’t have to have musical talent or skill to make music with one; it’s simply a matter of pushing a chord button and holding it down while you strum across the strings. You don’t have to practice for hours day after day after day. You don’t have to tune it every time you pick it up to play; you don’t have to rosin your bow, suck on your reed, or prepare in any way. You can just pick it up and strum.
I can understand how Saul could find respite from his inner storms as David played a harp. There’s something about the softly serene sound of strings creating streams of music that counteracts the noisy churning of a stormy inner realm. I can sit down with an autoharp after a… day and find solace through the strings.
A harp is synonymous with joy throughout the Bible. From Jubal’s introduction in Genesis 4:21 (Jubal -> jubilation!) and throughout God’s Word, the harp signifies joy. It was used throughout history as a means to praise and worship Almighty God with delightful pleasure and gladness, and people would play their harps in celebration of God’s goodness and lovingkindness.
But exile took the joy away. The harps were hung in the poplar trees – silenced. Babylon must have seemed so far away from Jerusalem. A once jubilant people could not dance – could not praise – could not stand as they remembered former days in their God-given land. Instead, they sat. They wept. The music had died within them. They hung their harps as they were taunted – jeered – laughed at by their captors.
There are times I hang my harp. We all do. There are moments in life where joy is robbed and held captive, and we cannot dance. We sit. We weep. We remember former days in the presence of our Savior and Lord in His land of blessing.
I don’t want to be held captive. I don’t want to remain in a foreign land – remembering. I don’t want my harp to remain hanging. I trust God to rescue me from those times of captivity, and may I always love my harp. ♥