The Power of Memory

Verlyn Verbrugge

READ : Ezra 3:7-13

And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (v. 11)

After rebuilding the altar to the Lord, the returned exiles began rebuilding the temple. They did not, of course, have the wealth and opulence that Solomon had when he built the temple more than 400 years earlier. But the people gave what they could, and eight months after the altar had been rebuilt, they began working on the temple.

The reaction to laying the foundation was mixed. The younger people, who had only scriptural history to go by, knew that this was the replacement for Solomon’s temple, and they joyfully sang the same song that was sung at the dedication of that temple (see 2 Chron. 5:11-13).

But the older people had visual memories of Solomon’s temple, and they knew that the foundation of this temple was much smaller than Solomon’s. They were thus reminded of the events of 586 BC, when that glorious temple had been destroyed because of the sins of the people. As a result, they began to weep.

Memory can have a powerful effect on our emotions. We can remember and rejoice, and we can remember and weep. But let us never forget that in everything that happens, God remains faithful to his covenant love and forgives all our sins and shortcomings. That is the fantastic promise of the Bible.


Lord God, you always remember your covenant. Help me never to forget your covenant mercies and always to rejoice in you.