Not Babylon - but fit my moodSo I just finished the Psalms on my Through-the-Bible-in-90-(Commute)-Days journey.  One of the last psalms in this book is Psalm 137 – a hauntingly beautiful Psalm that has been worked into modern songs and art.  It is set during the Babylonian captivity, and speaks to the sorrow of a people oppressed, persecuted and removed from their homeland:

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.

There on the poplars we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
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.

This is one of those passages in the Bible that reminds you that following God is not always about being blessed and putting the best face on grief. Sometimes it is just too painful and immediate to deal with sorry as joy. I know I have felt that way before.

What is interesting to me is how the modern “borrowings” of this Psalm stop where I have stopped above, or before, and pretend that the ending of the Psalm was never written:

Remember, O LORD, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
“tear it down to its foundations!”

O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is he who repays you
for what you have done to us-
he who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.

In a way it is sad when we neuter Scripture – be is Psalm or prose – to remove the sting it might contain.

There are times where we curse and do not bless. There are times when we do not love our enemies. There are times where it is our burning desire that God would see them repaid and – at least figuratively – their infants “dashed against the rocks”. And it is sad when I repress these true feelings, pretending they do not exist, rather than dealing with them – both in anger and later (hopefully) in regret.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 at 4:38 pm and is filed under Devotional, Original Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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One Comment(+Add)

1   Jerry
May 4th, 2010 at 10:48 pm


I really appreciate this non-series series of devotionals. Good work.

A real blessing.