Words in italic type have been added for clarity. They are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic.
What should I learn from this chapter?
- The heart of being taken captive
- Jerusalem as the resting place of God: The seventh day God rested in Jerusalem
- The Judgment on Edom’s hatred
- The spirit of Babylon
- Esau’s (Edom’s) hatred of his brother, the Jews who are the descendants of Jacob.
- resentment desiring revenge.
- Written concerning the Jewish captivity in Babylon.
- Ezra 5:12 But because our fathers provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and carried the people away to Babylon.
- The Septuagint makes it one of the lamentations of Jeremiah, naming him for the author of it.
- The spirit of Babylon lives in the last days when the Antichrist sets up his rule in Jerusalem promoting globalism, despotism, and idolatry.
- Jeremiah had taught them under this yoke to sit alone, and keep silence, and put their mouths in the dust, Lam. 3:28, Lam. 3:29 . “We sat down, as those that expected to stay, and were content, since it was the will of God that it must be so.”
- The Edomites will certainly be reckoned with, and all others that were accessories to the destruction of Jerusalem, that were aiding and abetting, that helped forward the affliction (Zec. 1:15 ) and triumphed in it. https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/psalms/137.html
Longing for Zion in a Foreign Land
Psalm 137:1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.
- Daniel 8:2 (Daniel was taken captive in the first wave of captives) I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai.
Detail of an alabaster relief from the palace of Sennacherib at Nineveh. 7th century BC. British Museum. Taking the Jews captive playing their harps.
Psalm 137:2 We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it.
Psalm 137:3 For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song,
And those who plundered us requested mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
- Ezek 1:1 I was among the captives by the River Chebar. 2 We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. 3 For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song,
And those who plundered us requested mirth, saying, “Sing to us one of the songs of Zion!”
- This relief excavated shows three prisoners of war playing lyres while being led away by a soldier. The lozenged background is meant to depict wooded surroundings. Detail of Hebrew captives playing music, from Lachish, wandering through a mountain forest, accompanied by an Assyrian warrior carrying a club and a quiver. They are wearing shirts and are barefoot, one has no hat, the others wear caps with headbands.
- The northern kingdom of Israel was taken captive by the Assyrians before the southern kingdom of Judah was taken captive by Babylon. It appears both incidents included forced music from the captives.
Psalm 137:4 How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?
- “One traditional source says that Nebuchadnezzar killed 80,000 Jews. His response to their refusal (to sing) was a massacre.”~ Jewish History
Psalm 137:5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!
Psalm 137:6 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.
- Jerusalem is the center of the promised land. It is probably the Garden of Eden. It is the place Abraham offered to sacrifice Isaac. It is where King David reigned, where Solomon built the temple, and where God rested on the seventh day. It is in the hearts of the chosen people to dwell in the promised land.
- Psalm 132:8 Arise, O Lord, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength.
- Psalm 132:13 For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: 14 “This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
Psalm 137:7 Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom
The day of Jerusalem,
Who said, “Raze it, raze it, (Lit. Make bare like a razor blade shaving the landscape)
To its very foundation!”
Judgments on Israel’s Neighbors
- Amos 1:11 Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, Because he pursued his brother with the sword, And cast off all pity; His anger tore perpetually,
And he kept his wrath forever.
- Edom to Israel is like Cain to Abel, brothers in which one was favored and the other was not. Edom is the descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob from whom come the Jews. The hatred has not only lasted to this day but has grown into full out rage.
- The word “Forever” began with the fruits of the hatred of Esau (Edom) against his brother Jacob, since Jacob took the birthright with the blessing away from Esau. It has continued until the present day and will continue through the tribulation at the end when the Antichrist betrays the Jews.
Psalm 137:8 O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed,
Happy the one who repays you (with brutality) as you have served us (with brutality)!
- The writer knows Babylon will be destroyed even as she destroyed Judah, and because she destroyed Judah.
- Jeremiah 51:11 Make the arrows bright! Gather the shields! The Lord has raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes. For His plan is (literally) against Babylon to destroy it, Because it is the vengeance of the Lord, The vengeance for His temple.
- Isaiah 14:22 [Babylon Destroyed] “For I will rise up against them,” says the Lord of hosts, “And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant, and offspring and posterity,” says the Lord.
- There will come a day during the tribulation when the Antichrist, indwelt with the spirit of Babylon, rules in Jerusalem. This spirit includes globalism, a one world rule, despotism, and a one world religion in which all religions go back to the tower of Babel becoming the place of idolatry of every kind.
Psalm 137:9 Happy the one who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock!
- A shivering resentment desiring revenge.