Story 29 - Exile

In the story of Hezekiah, King of the southern kingdom, Judah, we learnt that the kingdom of Assyria invaded the northern kingdom, Israel. They captured most of the Israelites and took them back to Assyria to be their slaves. This had been after a series of bad kings of Israel, who disobeyed God and worshipped false gods.

Judah too had bad kings….but we saw last time that some, like Hezekiah were good and were faithful to God. However, over the years, despite warnings from the prophets, more bad than good kings ruled and the kingdom of Judah gave up on God.

King Nebuchadnezzar’s armies invaded and attacked Judah, ransacked the great temple in Jerusalem and took everyone, except the poorest people to Babylon.

Once again, the people of God were strangers in a foreign land. Do you remember, years before they had been slaves in Egypt? Maybe that is why they were encouraged to welcome and be hospitable to strangers, because they knew what it felt like. So now, they were in exile.

When I was younger, a group called Boney M. recorded their version of a song called “By the rivers of Babylon.” It was very popular. It is based on Psalm 137 where the writer is expressing his deep sorrow at being away from his home country. He is obviously one of those people of God exiled in Babylon. His captors expected them to sing -  but how can they sing a song of joy when they are so deeply sad.

Psalm 137:1-4 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?

Rivers of Babylon  Boney M
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down
Yeah, we wept, when we remembered Zion
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down
Yeah, we wept, when we remembered Zion

There the wicked 
Carried us away in captivity
Required from us a song
Now how shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?
There the wicked
Carried us away in captivity
Requiring of us a song
Now how shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our heart
Be acceptable in thy sight here tonight
Let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts
Be acceptable in thy sight here tonight

Now: Listen to it on sung by Boney M. on Youtube. 
I wonder if you will like it.
I wonder if you have had to leave your home and move? How strange was it? Did you feel like you did not belong?
Or have you had to change schools?…..maybe some of you are going up to senior school in September. It may take a while to get used to.
Some of those who went to Babylon must have liked it there as when they were allowed to return to Judah, they chose to stay.
Next time we will look at some exile stories of those held captive.