“By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.” The people of God were brought into the Promised Land by the power of the Almighty. Though the Lord was slow to anger, eventually God removed His people far away from Canaan by the hands of the Babylonians. It was a sad day for the people of Judah. Their captors wanted to hear “one of the songs of Zion” for their entertainment. The temple had been torn down and the city of Jerusalem was destroyed. How could the Lord’s people celebrate?
Instead of singing songs of “mirth” for their “tormenters,” God’s people in exile called upon the Name of the Lord to bring judgment against their adversaries. They reminded the Lord about the Edomites who had cheered when Jerusalem was being demolished. They asked the Lord to bring the horrors of death upon the families of the Babylonians who ruled over them.
Psalm 137 reminds us of the judgment that will come against those who have cheered when God’s chosen people suffered. We remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.” Persecution of those who are counted as members of the Lord’s family will have eternal consequences. “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)
How can we survive the judgment of the Lord? Surely our only plea must be that a perfect Substitute has taken the wrath that we deserve. Since we have received the love of God that is ours through Christ, we must never stand far off from the Lord’s family in their time of need, celebrating their troubles like the Edomites did, or joining the Babylonians in their request for entertainment from the broken people of God. Instead we must do what people of faith have done for centuries, “… choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” (Hebrews 11:25)
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Our Father, You know our deep sadness in the day of our captivity and distress. Evil men would like to use Your songs for their own entertainment. They do not love You. They do not believe the truth of Your Word. O Father, surely the day of their destruction approaches. Give us grace to keep on going in times of trouble.