Sorrow and Hope in Exile
1By the rivers of Babylon
there we sat weeping
when we remembered Zion.a
2On the poplars in its midst
we hung up our harps.b
3For there our captors asked us
for the words of a song;
Our tormentors, for joy:
“Sing for us a song of Zion!”
4But how could we sing a song of the LORD
in a foreign land?
5If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget.c
6May my tongue stick to my palate
if I do not remember you,
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
beyond all my delights.
7Remember, LORD, against Edom
that day at Jerusalem.
They said: “Level it, level it
down to its foundations!”d
8Desolate Daughter Babylon, you shall be destroyed,
blessed the one who pays you back
what you have done us!e
9*Blessed the one who seizes your children
and smashes them against the rock.f
* [Psalm 137] A singer refuses to sing the people’s sacred songs in an alien land despite demands from Babylonian captors (Ps 137:1–4). The singer swears an oath by what is most dear to a musician—hands and tongue—to exalt Jerusalem always (Ps 137:5–6). The Psalm ends with a prayer that the old enemies of Jerusalem, Edom and Babylon, be destroyed (Ps 137:7–9).
* [137:9] Blessed the one who seizes your children and smashes them against the rock: the children represent the future generations, and so must be destroyed if the enemy is truly to be eradicated.
d. [137:7] Jer 49:7; Lam 4:21–22; Ez 25:12–14.
e. [137:8] Is 47:1–3; Jer 50–51.