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Psalm 137

June 5, 2009

This is a psalm of lament for the state of Israel in Babylon. Obviously this was written during Israel’s exile and records the psalmist’s experience. They are near the Tigris or Euphrates Rivers remembering the past but unable to sing. The Babylonians demand them to sing their songs of joy but they can not because they are sad. Israeli songs are joyous and upbeat. We have a CD of such songs as a remembrance of our firs trip to Israel. This simple demand to sing is perceived as torture to the Israelis. Verses 4-6 tell of how important it is to not forget Jerusalem. It’s somewhat ironic to hear them say they can’t forget Jerusalem when they could have easily prevented their exile if they had acknowledged the Lord God who resided in His Temple in Jerusalem. It’s interesting to note that this psalm talks about Israel’s plight but does not acknowledge their understanding of why their exile happened. This psalm does not speak of repentance or ask for mercy. Instead it asks for God’s judgment to come upon Edom for rejoicing at their destruction [vs. 7]. They do believe that Babylon will be judged for their sins. Israel did not believe their prophet Jeremiah when he talked about Israel’s sin but they do believe Jeremiah when he prophesied about Babylon [vs. 8-9]. This is indeed a sad psalm depicting Israel’s unrepentant attitude. This psalm talks about Israel’s woe but mentions nothing concerning Israel’s hope.

The important question is “where are we”? Do we feel mistreated, neglected, or forgotten? Are we being treated unfairly or unjustly? Are we unable to sing songs of joy and songs of praise? Is our focus on the past while mired in the present and refusing to consider the future? Are we under the discipline of the Lord God? Remember what Israel has forgotten. Those who seek God and humbly come before His throne seeking forgiveness and mercy will be saved. The Lord God blesses them with His abundant love and hope. Let’s not make the same mistake as Israel.

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