Keep a Song in Your Heart

Reading Time: 2 mins

Regularly reading and hearing God’s Word helps us to keep a song in our hearts.

The popular bandleader Lawrence Welk used to end his television show each week with a reminder to “keep a song in your heart.”     

Regularly reading and hearing God’s Word helps us to keep a song in our hearts. But it seems harder and harder to do in our culture and world today, with all the chaos, clamor, and distractions ringing in our ears. The Psalms, and especially Psalm 137, can be of great help to us.

The context of Psalm 137 is the Babylonian Exile. After many years of idolatry and rebellion, God sent the prophets to call Israel back to the Word and ways of the Lord. But Israel still strayed and disobeyed, and so Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, Zion was left in ruin and rubble, and the people were taken into exile to Babylon. 

“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept as we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars we hung our harps. Then our captors asked us for songs,}
our tormentors demanded from us songs of joy. ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’
But how can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?” (Ps. 137:1-4).

They were far from home, living in a foreign country, strangers in a strange land. Everything had changed. The future was dim for them. They had all but given up hope. The last thing on their mind was singing a song of joy.

There they were in Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers, longing for home, remembering Zion, hanging their harps on the poplar trees without a song in their heart.

Or so it would seem. For though Psalm 137 is indeed about not having a song to sing, it still remains a song nonetheless. It is a song without a song - a vivid reminder of how important it is to ‘keep a song in your heart’. The psalm goes on:

“If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy” (Ps. 137:5-6).

The promise and presence of the Lord God himself is what brought joy to his people at the temple in Jerusalem. And now, though all of that seems so far away, the psalmist still remembers and will not forget the Lord, even amid pain and suffering and loss.

He was exiled from his Father for a time so we would never have to be.

When Jesus came to his temple in Jerusalem, he was rejected by his own. On the cross, he was forsaken, abandoned, and alone. He was as far away from home as you can get. He was exiled from his Father for a time so we would never have to be. In Christ, we are promised never to be apart from our Father. Even amid our sin and separation, even in the midst of our failure and our fear, even when we don’t have a song to sing, Jesus comes to put a song in our hearts. Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia.

God may, at times, seem distant and remote and far off. But we know that joy comes in the morning while weeping may endure for a night. We can have the comfort and assurance in knowing that he is still here, in his Word, in the Sacraments, and with his people, the church. The God of the Bible still keeps his promises. He is the One who gives us a song to sing.

So keep a song in your heart!