Examining God’s Word – Psalm 137

Another of my favorite Psalms.

God’s Word to the Nations

New American Standard

New Living Translation

By the rivers of Babylon, we sat down and cried as we remembered Zion. By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion. Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we thought of Jerusalem.
2 We hung our lyres on willow trees. 2 Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps. 2 We put away our harps, hanging them on the branches of poplar trees.
3 It was there that those who had captured us demanded that we sing. Those who guarded us wanted us to entertain them. They said, “Sing a song from Zion for us!” 3 For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” 3 For our captors demanded a song from us. Our tormentors insisted on a joyful hymn: “Sing us one of those songs of Jerusalem!”
4 How could we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? 4 How can we sing the LORD’s song In a foreign land? 4 But how can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a pagan land?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget how to play the lyre. 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, May my right hand forget her skill. 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget how to play the harp.
6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I don’t remember you, if I don’t consider Jerusalem my highest joy. 6 May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, If I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy. 6 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.
7 O LORD, remember the people of Edom. Remember what they did the day Jerusalem was captured. They said, “Tear it down! Tear it down to its foundation.” 7 Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom The day of Jerusalem, Who said, “Raze it, raze it, To its very foundation.” 7 O LORD, remember what the Edomites did on the day the armies of Babylon captured Jerusalem. “Destroy it!” they yelled. “Level it to the ground!”
8 You destructive people of Babylon, blessed is the one who pays you back with the same treatment you gave us. 8 O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one, How blessed will be the one who repays you With the recompense with which you have repaid us. 8 O Babylon, you will be destroyed. Happy is the one who pays you back for what you have done to us.
9 Blessed is the one who grabs your little children and smashes them against a rock. 9 How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones Against the rock. 9 Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks! A psalm of David.

V3 is wholly dynamic, but within reason

v8, The application of ‘destructive’ to people seems to remove the sense of the verse.

For a comprehensive look at this Psalm, see here.

Post By Joel Watts (10,049 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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