October 28 - Psalm 137

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October 28 - Psalm 137:1-9

The rivers of Babylon. The exiles mourned the loss of their homes and yet were asked to play joyful songs for their captors. What an insulting and terrifying prospect. It's difficult for us to imagine this occurring. We have no concept of being turned out of our homes and dragged to a country that is ruled by such a pagan king. Yet, for the second time, the people of Israel found themselves captive to a foreigner. This time, however, there wasn't going to be a Moses to guide them through the Red Sea. This time was different.

Over hundreds of years, infighting and idol worship had reduced their power. They no longer relied on God to guide them, they relied on corrupt kings. They had opened themselves to the conqueror and in their captivity could do nothing else except mourn their losses and pray for restoration.

The Edomites in Psalm 137:7, were the descendants of Esau, Jacob's (whose name became Israel) brother. They did not assist their brethren, but stood by and maybe even helped the Babylonians. There is prophecy regarding their punishment in Ezekiel 25:12 and in Joel 3:19 and Obadiah 10-14 seems to insist that they will pay.

There were promises of retribution against the Babylonian from the prophets. Both Jeremiah and Isaiah spoke of horrendous things and promised that this terrible wrong would somehow be made right. (Jeremiah 51:24, Isaiah 13:16). More than likely, the Psalmist remembers seeing children of the Hebrews killed during the raids on Jerusalem. That pain brings the end to this Psalm with a reminder that God would avenge His own. This is a difficult verse to read. We really don't understand how children can be used as tools of war. I pray that this is something we never have to face.

As you read this Psalm today, pray for those that have been taken from their homes due to war or other hideous events. Our world is filled with exiles and captives. We need to remember them.