“By the rivers of Babylon— there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.” (Psalms 137:1)
When I read the Lamentations passage of yesterday, I was reminded of this psalm, and here it is! I have to wonder if the writer of Lamentations and the psalmist were of the same time and place. It does seem in its histories Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem have similar sorrows and woes.
“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?” (Verses 2 – 4)
But the would appear (and sounds like) the psalmist is with the captives as opposed to one of those left behind or mourning what was left behind.
“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.” (Verses 5 – 6)
Gone from but not forgotten.
Sometimes I think back to my previous live, when I was a child and living in Ontario, Canada. Not that I have regrets or sorrow about my life now. But I think back to the town I grew up in and the way of life there. And I wonder – what is going on back there. How are the friends and family I still have there. What has changed. It is not with sorrow, but with reminiscence. Curiosity, and not anger. But the writer of this psalm is angry. And vengeful.
“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!” (Verses 7 – 8)
Hatred begets hatred. It is a lesson each generation and each nation must learn. Or they are destined to repeat the actions and mistakes that went before. What seeds does a conquering and destroying nation plant when they ripe asunder those weaker and vulnerable then them. How often has history seen the fruit of hatred and war spring up where it has been sown by a stronger nation. In each continent it has happened. And invariably it is the weak and defenseless that suffer. Let it be a grime epitaph when one nations says of another . . .
“Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock.” (Verse 9)
And it is a curse upon each nation that it happens to. For anger and vengeance shall rise up in defense only to become the offense and oppression, and death, that is visited on each successive nation and generation. Yes, beloved reader, let us mourn!