The Stolen Song Of Joy

There is a joy and peace that passes all understanding; but in order to walk in this joy and peace, we must embrace Christ daily and live in the power of the Holy Spirit.

God had given a land, a law, and a Lord to His ancient people Israel. They defiled the land, defied the law, and denied the Lord. As a result, the Babylonians came and carried them away to a strange land—a land of captivity. These people who were meant to sing lost their song.

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.” How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:1-4).

There was parakeet named Chippy. The young parakeet never saw it coming. One second, he was peacefully perched in his cage; and the next he was sucked in, washed up, and, blown over. The problems began when Chippy’s owner decided to clean his cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up.

She had barely said hello when Chippy got sucked in. The bird’s owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippy—alive but stunned. Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him up and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippy under the running water.

Then realizing that Chippy was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do—she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the parakeet with hot air. Poor Chippy never knew what hit him.

A few days after the trauma, the reporter who had initially written the story contacted Chippy’s owner to see how the bird was recovering. “Well,” she replied, “Chippy doesn’t sing much anymore. He just sits and stares.”

Millions of Christians have lost their song. Like Israel so long ago, they have been taken captive—not by the Babylonians but by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Babylon represents the world with its vanity, vexation, and vileness. Jerusalem represents salvation, the saints, and the songs. However, God’s people had been taken captive; and as a result, they lost their song.


By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion (Psalm 137:1). Misery. One of the ways we can tell that we truly know the Lord and have been saved and redeemed is if there is sadness and heartache when we are not in fellowship with God.

There are a lot of Christians who have been taken captive. God loves us too much to let us have joy and worldliness at the same time. We cannot have sin and joy in our heart at the same time. We often think the most miserable person in the world is an unsaved person when in reality the most miserable person in the world is a saved person who is out of fellowship with God.

What is true joy? Not laughter. People can laugh and often do so to cover up the fact that they have no joy. They are laughing themselves into hell but will be unable to laugh their way out. Laughter is not joy nor is giddiness or happiness. In fact, happiness is like the surface of the sea. It depends upon which way the wind is blowing as to what the conditions will be for the sailors. However, the joy of the Lord is many fathoms deep where the winds never reach. It is a wonderful thing when joy and happiness merge; but when there is no happiness, we must thank God for the joy He gives to help us bear the pain.

Success does not bring joy, and failure is often success at the wrong thing. Success has a measure of diminishing returns. So-called successful people may “have it all” and yet still have no joy. Joy is that ecstasy of the soul that is at peace with God. It has been said that “joy is the flag that is flown from the castle of the heart when the king is in residence there.” Joy is unspeakable and full of glory.

God loves us too much to let us live taken captive by the world, the flesh, and the devil and still have joy. God is the one who sometimes engineers sorrow.

Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, “Because you have not obeyed My words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,” declares the Lord, “and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. Moreover, I will take from them the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years” (Jeremiah 25: 8-11).

God told them, “You would not hear my prophets so I am going to raise up this vile, wicked, and strong king; and he is going to carry you away into captivity. You will have no mirth, no joy, and no songs.” God did this because He loved them—not because He did not love them.

Nebuchadnezzar was God’s rattlesnake to bring the children of Israel to their senses. God had given them a land, a law, and a Lord…and had sent the prophets; however, they defiled the land, defied the law, and denied the Lord…and they wept.


By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion (Psalm 137: 1). They remembered Zion—the holy land, Jerusalem, the holy temple, the place of fellowship with God, the place of cleansing from sin; but now all they had was a stinging memory.

Are we out of fellowship with God yet still remember when we were in fellowship with Him—when God was so real; when worship was a thrill; when Jesus Christ was sweet and precious; and we could sing it, say it, and mean it?

If we do not love the Lord as much as we used to and do not walk in fellowship and know the sweet joy, glory, and presence of Jesus Christ in our heart, then we have been taken captive and our misery and our memory are inextricably interwoven.


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 137:2-3). With great sarcasm, their captors commanded the captives to sing.

The devil delights to see a child of God fail or a scandal in the church or a child of God who lowers the banner and no longer has the cross before them and the world behind them.

The world hates us because we love the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you (John 15:19).

The world that hates Christians rejoices when they fall or stumble. Sing us one of the songs of Zion, they say.

We can sing to Babylon but never for Babylon. We have no right to sing the songs of Zion for this world that wants to blur the difference between the church and the world. They love to sing the songs of Zion in the bars. Every so often they will strike up the song, “Amazing Grace.” At Christmastime, they will sing “Away in a Manager” while one week later they will be singing “Auld Lang Syne” in a drunken brawl. Sing us the songs of Zion the people of Babylon said. They wanted Christians to become a mockery to the cause of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God forbid that any of us should ever bring such blasphemy to Christ.


How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:4). It is the Lord’s song, a song of deliverance; and if it is a song of deliverance, how can we sing it when we have been taken captive? You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance (Psalm 32:7).

The first recorded public song in the Bible was the song of deliverance when the children of Israel came out of Egypt, headed toward Canaan, crossed the Red Sea, and were set free from bondage. They sang the song of Moses and the Lamb—a song of deliverance: six hundred thousand male voices singing with the women singing the refrain. If we have been delivered, we cannot help but sing.

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord (Psalm 40:2-3).

When God brings us up out of the pit, He puts our feet on the Rock; and we cannot help but sing. If we have been redeemed and delivered, there will be a song in our heart—the song of the soul set free.

What steals our song? Sorrow cannot. Jesus was facing dark Gethsemane and bloody Calvary; but before He and His disciples left the Upper Room after observing Passover, they sang a hymn, [and] went out to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30). Jesus sang in the midst of His sorrow.

Paul and Silas had their backs lacerated and were in stocks and bonds in the filth of the prison in Philippi (a former city in present-day Greece); but about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:25).

We may experience dark nights or possibly an incurable disease. We may have wayward children or are between jobs and it looks bleak because now we are now past the age where people might be looking for someone with our skills. However, these things cannot steal our song because our joy does not depend upon what happens. We rejoice in the Lord!

As we come to the close of The Joy Book: The Christian’s Abundant Joy in the Darkest Days, I would like to encourage all who have read this book to keep your joy by staying close to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not called to isolate ourselves from the world, but we can insulate ourselves in it!