1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. 2 There on the poplars we hung our harps, 3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” 4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? 5 If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. 6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. 7 Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. “Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!” 8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us. 9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.
I know the book of Psalms as a place where writers express their deepest feelings – from grief to joy, from anger to humble repentance. That is what I am reading here in Ps 137. This is a Psalm of great grief at the loss of their home in Jerusalem and subsequent captivity. It records their anger and desire for vengeance against their captors – the Edomites.
Probably some of the most disturbing words in scripture are in the final verses where the writer cries out to God to bless anyone who would bring damage and heartbreak to their captors. It is like a mirror to what they have faced, what they have lost, who they have buried and how they have been oppressed.
It is not God who utters these words – it is broken humanity – begging for payback. It’s a reminder that on the journey from the bondage of grief and captivity – we can cry out to God to intervene. We can call out to a Him and express our deepest desires for what we think a righteous solution will look like. But at the end of the day – God who hears our prayers will still be God – and will work with us and through us to bring his Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.
Lord – as I walk this life in all it’s pain and grief – as I cry out to You – remind me afresh that You are the God of reconciliation, redemption and restoration for all people. May your Kingdom come here on earth!
Written by Ps. Linda Quinn