By the rivers of Babylon, we sat down and cried as we remembered Zion.
We hung our lyres on willow trees.
It was there that those who had captured us demanded that we sing. Those who guarded us wanted us to entertain them. ⌊They said,⌋ “Sing a song from Zion for us!”
How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? [vss 1-4]
If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget ⌊how to play the lyre⌋.
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I don’t remember you, if I don’t consider Jerusalem my highest joy. [vss 5-6]
O Lord, remember the people of Edom. Remember what they did the day Jerusalem ⌊was captured⌋. They said, “Tear it down! Tear it down to its foundation.”
You destructive people of Babylon, blessed is the one who pays you back with the same treatment you gave us. Blessed is the one who grabs your little children and smashes them against a rock. [vss 7-9]
(Psalms 137:1-9 GW)
Sadness is a strong emotion. It can crush a heart and overwhelm the mind. Anger is also a powerful emotion. Left unchecked it breeds rage and becomes destructive.
Both these emotions are present in Psalm 137. This psalm is characterized as an imprecatory or curse psalm and expresses the psalmist's thoughts with strong emotive words.
The Bible is not just a book of truth, it's an honest book. There's no political spin or holding back of the depths of human struggle and evil. This is often misunderstood and misconstrued by those who are ignorant of God and His purposes.
Because of Israel's continuing rebellion towards God and refusal to abide by His covenant with them, God exiled Israel to a foreign land. The Babylonian's conquered, captured and exiled God's chosen people and removed them from their promised land.
In the opening verses, the depth of Israel's sadness is seen. They have no joyful song to sing to their captors.
The latter portion of the psalm is an expression of their anger. Anger is the common reactive emotion we express when going through deep sadness and pain.
One purpose of this psalm is to remind us that God knows our deepest wounds. He knows we need to express what's in our hearts instead of bottling up these feelings. Otherwise, they will explode in a destructive way upon others.
So, what do we with these powerful emotions inside us? We need to express them to the Lord in honest and open prayer.
When we are genuinely open and honest with God in prayer, we can vent these powerful emotions and entrust them to Him. He knows how to handle our deepest sadness and anger, we just need to give it over to Him.
How do you handle deep sadness and burning anger?
The Lord knows our needs and struggles and waits for us to entrust them to Him.
Would you like a free study guide for your study of Psalms?
I won't cover all 150 Psalms, but do selective devotionals through the rest of Psalms.
So if I skip one that you like... let me know and I'll try to cover it!