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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 L ord’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 L ord, 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!

8. O daughter of Babylon 187187     Daughter of Babylon denotes the inhabitants of the Babylonish empire. The inhabitants of a city or kingdom are frequently spoken of in Scripture as its daughter. (See Psalm 45:13; Isaiah 47:1; Zechariah 9:9.) laid waste! The Psalmist discerns the coming judgment of God, though not yet apparent, by the eye of faith, as the Apostle well calls faith “the beholding of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1.) Incredible as it might appear that any calamity should overtake so mighty an empire as Babylon then was, and impregnable as it was generally considered to be, he sees in the glass of the Word its destruction and overthrow. He calls upon all God’s people to do the same, and by faith from the elevation of heaven’s oracles, to despise the pride of that abandoned city. If the divine promises inspire us with hope and confidence, and God’s Spirit attemper our afflictions to the rule of his own uprightness, we shall lift up our heads in the lowest depths of affliction to which we may be east down, and glory in the fact that it is well with us in our worst distresses, and that our enemies are devoted to destruction. In declaring those to be happy who should pay back vengeance upon the Babylonians, he does not mean that the service done by the Medes and Persians, in itself met with the approbation of God; 188188     “Il n’entend pas que le service des Perses et Medes ait este agreable a Dieu,” etc. — Fr. for they were actuated in the war by ambition, insatiable covetousness, and unprincipled rivalry; but he declares that a war which was carried on in a manner under God’s auspices, should be crowned with success. As God had determined to punish Babylon, he pronounced a blessing upon Cyrus and Darius, while on the other hand Jeremiah (Jeremiah 48:10) declares those cursed who should do the work of the Lord negligently, that is, fail in strenuously carrying out the work of desolation and destruction, to which God had called them as his hired executioners. It may seem to savor of cruelty, that he should wish the tender and innocent infants to be dashed and mangled upon the stones, but he does not speak under the impulse of personal feeling, and only employs words which God had himself authorized, so that this is but the declaration of a just judgment, as when our Lord says,

“With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:2.)

Isaiah (Isaiah 13:16) had issued a special prediction in reference to Babylon, which the Psalmist has doubtless here in his eye — “Behold God has sharpened the iron, and bent the bows; he sends forth the Medes and Persians, which shall not regard silver and gold; they shall thirst for blood only,” etc.

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