A Judean Jew's Cry because of Bondage and Cruelty
- Psalms 137:1 (KJV)
- Psalms 137:2 (KJV)
- Psalms 137:3 (KJV)
- Psalms 137:4 (KJV)
- Psalms 137:5 (KJV)
- Psalms 137:6 (KJV)
- Psalms 137:7 (KJV)
- Psalms 137:8 (KJV)
- Psalms 137:9 (KJV)
This could be called the “Captivity Psalm.” It is a first person account by one of the captives that were taken away to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar after the fall of Jerusalem in 515 BC.
Verses 1-4. Arriving in Babylon, while resting by the rivers of that strange land, the Jews’ Babylonian captors required them to sing songs that they used to sing at Jerusalem. It was a cruel joke and immeasurably added to the depression that hung over them all.
Verses 5-6. Once, a dear teacher of mine recounted an experience he had on a plane trip when he struck up a conversation with a Jew who was seated next to him. He asked the man if he had ever visited Jerusalem and, unexpectedly, the man replied, “I don’t care anything about Jerusalem and don’t ever intend to go there.” After a moment, my teacher (who knew the vast majority, if not all, the Scripture by heart) replied, “It is written,
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill!
If I do not remember you,
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy. Psalm 137:5-6
At that, he said, his fellow traveler became red faced and flustered and didn’t know what to say.
Verse 7. The Edomites were delighted when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and carried the Jews away captive. But, the Lord took note of their joy. Then, speaking through his prophet, Ezekiel, he said to them,
Thus says the Lord GOD: “The whole earth will rejoice when I make you desolate. As you rejoiced because the inheritance of the house of Israel was desolate, so I will do to you; you shall be desolate, O Mount Seir, as well as all of Edom—all of it! Then they shall know that I am the LORD."Ezekiel 35:13-14
Verses 8 and 9. The vicious cruelty that the Babylonians exhibited when they overran Jerusalem was indescribable. There was not an ounce of mercy in the bloody aftermath of the city’s fall. The Babylonians were notorious in their cruelty to those they conquered. And, the one thing that the writer of this Psalm could not get out of his mind was when they took their babies and dashed their brains out against the walls. The violence and indescribable horror of it could not be forgotten. Understandably, the Psalmist calls for an equally violent end to the Babylonians who practiced such things. And, historically, that’s exactly what happened to them when Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon. However, Revelation 18 will, in essence, be the ultimate fulfillment of this scripture’s call for vengeance and justice on Babylon… for she will rise again during the Tribulation as Antichrist’s kingdom on earth … and practice even greater violence and atrocities. But, she will experience a final judgment from the hand of the Lord. As we have it in Revelation 18:8,
Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.
Bottom line, there is a God in Heaven who is just and holy. He has judged, and will yet judge, the nations of Earth. He will not abide their cruelty and violence today or any other day. And, as for individual humans, this holds true as well. Look at the cross if you do not think this is so. There, Holy God did not spare his own Son … but judged the sins of the whole world counting him guilty on our behalf.
…who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Pet 2:24-25
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