Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | January 5, 2016

January 5, 2016 “Poetic Pathos”

“By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept,When we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps. For there our captors demanded of us  songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying,“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” (Psalm 137: 1-3)

Good Morning Everyone!

Among some of my other interests, I co-administer a Facebook Group consisting of fans of the music of Canadian songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. This week, I initiated a new poll of some of his songs that deal with great heartbreak which I have called “Poetic Pathos.” The dictionary defines pathos as: “the quality or power in an actual life experience or in literature, music, speech, or other forms of expression, of evoking a feeling of pity.” Most certainly, Psalm 137 fits this category well. Here we have the mournful expression of God’s people languishing in captivity in Babylon. Their captors are scorning and ridiculing them. This once free and proud nation is under the thumb of mocking captors, and they respond as the great King David often did…with prayerful music. There is a deep expression on the part of the Hebrews for God to act and for justice to be restored. If you read the psalm in its entirety, you may be a bit stunned by the graphic desire of the hebrews for the complete destruction of Babylon. The Rev. Steven Cole offers an interesting insight on this. Of the psalm and its call for God’s vengeance to be meted out against the Babylonians, he writes:


The thought of Jerusalem in ruins brought these Jews to tears. They didn’t have it all that bad in Babylon. They easily could have been assimilated into the Babylonian way of life. But they had an intense longing for God’s city and God’s worship. They would not settle for anything less”.

This begs the question he asks…”How badly do you want to see God’s church established? How earnestly do you yearn for righteousness for yourself and God’s people? Could you say, with the psalmist, that you exalt God’s church above your highest personal joy? What kind of difficult circumstances would it take to cause you to lay those desires aside”? The difficult but true words of Psalm 137 should stir us to cast off our worldliness and apathy and to reaffirm our commitment to the living God and His church, and should serve to bring us all to our knees in prayer for our nation and our world. This “poetic pathos” should serve to bring all of us to our knees, so…Let’s Pray!

King of Kings and Lord of Lords: In the prayer you taught us, we are to pray for the establishment of your Kingdom and the exercise of your will. May this be more than mere words we repeat as we pray. May it become our deepest desire each day of our lives. May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This we do pray in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen!



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