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Psalm 137

Psalm 137 is a lament written either during or shortly after the exile. It provides a vivid image of what life in exile must have been like.

By the rivers of Babylon,
    we sat and wept
    when we thought of Zion, our home, so far away.
On the branches of the willow trees,
    we hung our harps and hid our hearts from the enemy.
And the men that surrounded us
    made demands that we clap our hands and sing—
Songs of joy from days gone by,
    songs from Zion, our home.
Such cruel men taunted us—haunted our memories.

How could we sing a song about the Eternal
    in a land so foreign, while still tormented, brokenhearted, homesick?
    Please don’t make us sing this song.
5-6 O Jerusalem, even still, don’t escape my memory.
    I treasure you and your songs, even as I hide my harp from the enemy.
And if I can’t remember,
    may I never sing a song again—
    may my hands never play well again—
For what use would it be if I don’t remember Jerusalem
    as my source of joy?

Remember, Eternal One, how the Edomites, our brothers, the descendants of Esau,
    stood by and watched as Jerusalem fell.
Gloating, they said, “Destroy it;
    tear it down to the ground,” when Jerusalem was being demolished.
O daughter of Babylon, you are destined for destruction!
    Happy are those who pay you back for how you treated us
    so you will no longer walk so proud.
Happy are those who dash your children against the rocks
    so you will know how it feels.