137 By the rivers of Babylon,
There we [captives] sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion [the city God imprinted on our hearts].
On the willow trees in the midst of Babylon
We hung our harps.
For there they who took us captive demanded of us a song with words,
And our tormentors [who made a mockery of us demanded] amusement, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
How can we sing the Lord’s song
In a strange and foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget [her skill with the harp].
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
If I do not remember you,
If I do not prefer Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.
Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom,
The day of [the fall of] Jerusalem,
Who said “Down, down [with her]
To her very foundation.”
O daughter of Babylon, you devastator,
How blessed will be the one
Who repays you [with destruction] as you have repaid us.
How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones
Against the rock.
138 I will give You thanks with all my heart;
I sing praises to You before the [pagan] gods.
I will bow down [in worship] toward Your holy temple
And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word together with Your name.
On the day I called, You answered me;
And You made me bold and confident with [renewed] strength in my life.
All the kings of the land will give thanks and praise You, O Lord,
When they have heard of the promises of Your mouth [which were fulfilled].
Yes, they will sing of the ways of the Lord [joyfully celebrating His wonderful acts],
For great is the glory and majesty of the Lord.
Though the Lord is exalted,
He regards the lowly [and invites them into His fellowship];
But the proud and haughty He knows from a distance.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.
The Lord will accomplish that which concerns me;
Your [unwavering] lovingkindness, O Lord, endures forever—
Do not abandon the works of Your own hands.
139 O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do];
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken],
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And [You have] placed Your hand upon me.
Such [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high [above me], I cannot reach it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead), behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will take hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me,
And the night will be the only light around me,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You and conceals nothing from You,
But the night shines as bright as the day;
Darkness and light are alike to You.
For You formed my innermost parts;
You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was being formed in secret,
And intricately and skillfully formed [as if embroidered with many colors] in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were appointed for me,
When as yet there was not one of them [even taking shape].
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I could count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.
[a]O that You would kill the wicked, O God;
Go away from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
For they speak against You wickedly,
Your enemies take Your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
I hate them with perfect and utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.
Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
13 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not [a]love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction]. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy [and speak a new message from God to the people], and understand all mysteries, and [possess] all knowledge; and if I have all [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love [reaching out to others], I am nothing. 3 If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [b]to be burned, but do not have love, it does me no good at all.
4 Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. 5 It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. 6 It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. 7 Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].
8 Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. But as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for the gift of special knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and incomplete]. 10 But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God]. 13 And now there remain: faith [abiding trust in God and His promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love.