Hello, I’m Rob Messenger. Here are a few comments about myself and ‘Singing in Babylon.’
I am a 58 year old Australian pensioner; former school teacher, pastor and clerk. Denominationally I am happy to be thought of as a ‘small b’ Baptist but I am sure that will mean different things to different people.
Many years ago and at a difficult time in my life I received a letter from a respected Christian elder; a doctor who pointed me to the Psalms again where, he wrote in words to this effect, “there most certainly is comfort but never of the ‘sugary’ kind.”
Since then I have read a Psalm or part of a Psalm on most mornings and can tell you happily that he was right.
There is comfort here and it is not sugary at all. There is also rebuke, which of course I need from time to time even more than comfort. And there is so much more; the word of God to all of us but particularly to ones who by his grace alone are able to call him Father and LORD.
The Psalms are ancient songs written by men who were meeting God as he was revealing himself in their personal lives and in their corporate life as the people of Israel through his prophets and through great events.
They wrote to express joy and sadness, faith and repentance, fear and courage. They wrote to encourage one another. They lived in dangerous days, at risk of war, exile, slavery and death.
They sinned and we must be thankful that they made a record of their deepest repentance and their assurance of the never failing love and faithfulness of their LORD.
‘Singing in Babylon’ is a reference to Psalm 137 in which the people in exile in Babylon wondered how they could possibly sing the LORD’s song in a strange land.
I agree with the notion that Babylon in the New Testament is among other things, an image of the world we inhabit today, in as much as it stands against the Kingdom of God in Christ.
That this is the same world into which the Church has been commissioned by Christ himself to go and make disciples is apparent. It is the only one we have.
The New Testament writers, inspired by God, have made for us a record of the life and work of Christ and of their own experience of him and of their own discipleship. Like the Psalmists they have been painfully honest about their own failures too.
We know that they sang Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to one another and to God; even in prison and in ‘strange lands’ beyond Jerusalem as well.
They knew what we know today; that these ancient songs can be ours too whether we read them personally or in corporate worship. They are, I believe, the songs from which all our ‘new’ songs spring.
My aim is to share them. I have tried to make only brief comments from my own study with some pointers to the New Testament for relevance.
Mostly I have used the New International Version of the Bible for the selected Psalms and other references. I have compared other translations in my own reading.
Any errors in commentary are mine.
PS 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.