If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget how to play the harp. May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I fail to remember you, if I don’t make Jerusalem my greatest joy.
I have way too firm of a grasp on the understanding about what it means to not have the greatest understanding about what’s going on around me.
I know. You probably had to read that line a couple of times. I know that because it took me several times to write it correctly.
Here in this psalm, we encounter a psalmist who is caught up in exile. They are extraordinarily frustrated (and I use the plural because earlier in the psalm, the psalmist is a collective). Their captors demand a song from them; they basically demand “one of those pretty Jerusalem songs.” You can imagine the disgust; you can imagine the flippant manner in which these Babylonians treated something that this group of Jews held in high regard.
The interesting thing about this group, however, is that these people seemed to be extremely frustrated with the idea of singing songs only for entertainment’s sake. Their prayer ended up being a very strange one: confound our songs should they ever be anything but true memory and reverence for where we came from.
They refused to show anything but sincere reverence. They would rather lose their talent to do something that they presumably loved: making music. Do I genuinely have the heart to pray that God would confound my writing should I ever lose a bit of reverence for Him?
That is an insane notion. A crazy idea.
I do think, though, that it is an attitude that we should strive to have. Do we have such a respect for God in our lives that we would rather be unable to speak (or whatever it is that we have a passion for) than to use that gift selfishly?