Psalm 137

Psalm 137

What is your worst experience?

Israel experienced national disaster: The Temple was destroyed, the country was invaded, and the leaders were all captured and brought into exile. Those who were in the exile became slaves in a foreign land. There they were commanded to sing songs of their homeland. I hope that your worst experience is not like that.

“By the rivers of Babylon— there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our harps. For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”

In the worst times of your life, you can remember the past and get strength from it.

What can sustain us in those hard times? Usually two things work: Remembrance of past and hope for the future. Remembrance of the past gives us foundation of our identity. Hope for the future summons us new strength to construct our community. The psalmist could not find hope for the future now in her situation. However, she remembered what happened and who she was. This would help her to endure current suffering for a while. Even anger would keep her alive. However, that would not make her move on. Eventually we need hope for the future.

“If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy. Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem’s fall, how they said, ‘Tear it down! Tear it down! Down to its foundations!’ O daughter Babylon, you devastator! Happy shall they be who pay you back what you have done to us! Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!

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