In the same neighborhood where this psalm was written there lived four young men with an entirely different view of what was the right answer to these circumstances. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were still teenagers, with a natural appetite for life, but also with strong convictions about what was right and wrong, what was holy and unholy. They knew God’s Word and understood where it conflicted with the king’s demands.
At an early age they were faced with many challenges, and decisions so hard that grown up men buckled under them. Perhaps the most important question they faced was this: Should they join the gloomy outlook on life, and spend their life longing for something they could not attain, or should they choose a different path, and trust the Lord even in the face of opposition by both enemies and friends?
To make it even more clear: Should they spend a lifetime weeping and decrying their fate as captives, or should they make their lives count for the Lord and for men even at the possible cost of life itself?
I am pretty sure that their choice was not an easy one to make. Pressure was brought upon them. Dignified men gave them solemn advice to do as everyone else was doing. Scholars told them it was a holy duty to resist their captors any way they possibly could. Relatives asked them to consider the reputation of their family.
But in the end the issue was absolutely clear: A life in sadness and passivity, or a life of making the most of the opportunities the Lord gave them right there in Babylon.
We know the result: Who knows the name of even one of the men who chose not to sing, not to rejoice, just to lament? And who has not heard about Daniel? His life is an example for millions to follow, and his prophecies are a rich store of revelation to be discovered.
Our choice today is probably far less dramatic, but may well have something of the same ingredients to it. A choice to passively accept the circumstances, follow the crowd and achieve very little. Or listen to the Lord, brave the circumstances, walk a challenging road, and make your life count for the Kingdom of God, even if only in the hidden place.
So, my prayer for you today is, that you, figuratively speaking, will stand up, take down your harp, start playing it, and begin to sing a song of joy and hope. Your song and your attitude may seem very strange in a landscape where the songs of Zion are seldom heard, but one ear here, and another there, may catch the tune, get the message, and be encouraged to rise up and ask for the ways of the Lord! Your choice today can change the lives of others tomorrow.
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