Today’s post is part of our Psalm Saturdays series from guest blogger Robert Chamberlain. You can read his archives at www.roberlain.wordpress.com .
Psalm 137:1–9 (ESV)
1 By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!
6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!
7 Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!”
8 O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us!
9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!
There’s a certain symmetry to this Psalm. There’s weeping now for God’s people whilst their enemies exult. But there’s a day of reckoning coming when God’s people will rejoice whilst His enemies will despair.
God’s people are exiles and strangers in the world. It feels strange to us to sing of our heavenly home in the midst of the world in which we live. Worshipping God isn’t something we want to do to the mockery of others.
Israel’s singers may have gone on strike in exile in Babylon, but they still wanted to remember the good old days when they sang their old time worship songs. And they still penned laments like this of their lamentable current circumstances. Psalm 137 is from exile in Babylon, and the book of Lamentations is from the devastated homeland.
We want to remember good times in the midst of lament. But we also want God to remember injustices that we have suffered. The final verses of this Psalm seem shocking to our respectable modern sensibilities. But we have an ugly sense of entitlement if we think that God owes us anything other than destruction, because He doesn’t.
“Lord, we’re strangers and exiles in this world, and we long to come home to You. Please help us in the meantime, and grant us justice against our enemies, in Christ’s name, amen.”
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