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Psalm 137

Lament over the Destruction of Jerusalem


By the rivers of Babylon—

there we sat down and there we wept

when we remembered Zion.


On the willows there

we hung up our harps.


For there our captors

asked us for songs,

and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,

“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”



How could we sing the Lord’s song

in a foreign land?


If I forget you, O Jerusalem,

let my right hand wither!


Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,

if I do not remember you,

if I do not set Jerusalem

above my highest joy.



Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites

the day of Jerusalem’s fall,

how they said, “Tear it down! Tear it down!

Down to its foundations!”


O daughter Babylon, you devastator!

Happy shall they be who pay you back

what you have done to us!


Happy shall they be who take your little ones

and dash them against the rock!

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Ps 137:1-9. This Psalm records the mourning of the captive Israelites, and a prayer and prediction respecting the destruction of their enemies.

1. rivers of Babylon—the name of the city used for the whole country.

remembered Zion—or, Jerusalem, as in Ps 132:13.

2. upon the willows—which may have grown there then, if not now; as the palm, which was once common, is now rare in Palestine.

3, 4. Whether the request was in curiosity or derision, the answer intimates that a compliance was incongruous with their mournful feelings (Pr 25:20).

5, 6. For joyful songs would imply forgetfulness of their desolated homes and fallen Church. The solemn imprecations on the hand and tongue, if thus forgetful, relate to the cunning or skill in playing, and the power of singing.

7-9. Remember … the children of Edom—(Compare Ps 132:1), that is, to punish.

the day of Jerusalem—its downfall (La 4:21, 22; Ob 11-13).

8. daughter of Babylon—the people (Ps 9:13). Their destruction had been abundantly foretold (Isa 13:14; Jer 51:23). For the terribleness of that destruction, God's righteous judgment, and not the passions of the chafed Israelites, was responsible.