Psalm 137

Read: Psalm 137:1 – 4; Hebrews 12:4 – 13; Psalm 94:12; John 17:14; John 16:33; 2 Timothy 3:12; Hebrews 11:16

The utility of the psalms for us depends partly on our ability to identify with the situation of the psalmist.  The situation of the Israelites in exile is a picture of the church in the world today. This is true in a negative sense in that Israel was in exile because they did not repent and therefore had to endure God’s discipline; we may likewise endure the consequences of our sin and God’s discipline. In a positive sense, we are exiles in this world — in the world, but not of the world. We are a pilgrim people.

Think About It:  According to Hebrews 12:4 – 13, how should I respond to God’s discipline in my life?  Am I promised a trouble-free life as long as I don’t incur God’s discipline? What am I promised (John 16:33)? How should I regard this world?

Prayer: Praise God that this world is not my home.


Read: Psalm 137:1; 1 Timothy 6:9; 2 Peter 1:4; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 4:22

The “rivers of Babylon” were the Euphrates, the Chebar and Ulai. The Jews were used to drinking pure water from wells and basins that caught rainwater; the rabbinical tradition records that sickness caused by the impure waters of the rivers of Babylon killed more Jews than the soldiers of Nebuchadnezzar.

Think About It: Using the scripture references for today, make a spiritual application regarding the dangers of drinking impure river water. How can I stay uncontaminated in an impure world?

Prayer: For my sanctification.


Read: Psalm 137:2 – 3; Jeremiah 29:7; Hebrews 13:4; 1 John 2:15 – 16

“We sat down and wept when we remembered Zion.” The rabbinical tradition says that the exiles were cruelly driven into exile and not allowed even to sit until they arrived. Once they arrived in Babylon they were allowed to establish homes, and as the years went on, they prospered. Nevertheless they grieved when they remembered Zion, their homeland.

Think About It:  What were the dangers inherent in prosperity for those in exile? How does that relate to our spiritual exile?  The hymn “Am I a Soldier of the Cross” asks “Is this vile world a friend to grace, to help me to God?” Well, is it, or not?

Prayer: Lord, help me to remember, and to long for, my heavenly home.


Read: Psalm 137:4; Psalm 8:1, 113:4, 148:5

“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”  Rabbinical tradition says that Nebuchadnezzar demanded that the Levite singers serenade him while he feasted on his victory.  The Levites responded by hanging their harps on the trees and deliberately mutilating their fingers so they could not play.

Think About It:  Who is worthy to receive glory and praise? Do I value and ascribe worth to God above everything else? In what sense does the world still demand that the Lord’s people provide amusement to them by singing the Lord’s songs?

Prayer: That I might glorify You, Lord, and You alone.


Read: Psalm 137:5, 6; Revelation 21:1 – 7; Luke 12:32

In Psalm 137:5 – 7 the Psalm becomes a prayer of commitment on the part of God’s people to remember Jerusalem. For the Jew, Jerusalem was the home from which they were torn; it was also the center of their nation and of their worship, the location of the Temple.   The Jews committed themselves in this psalm to never forget where they came from, to never forget the Temple and its worship.

Think About It: What corresponds to “Jerusalem” for me as a Christian? Why is it important for me to remember this Jerusalem?

Prayer: That I never forget my destiny and my inheritance.


Read: Psalm 137:7; Obadiah 8 -14; Ezekiel 25:12 – 14

The prayer of Psalm 137:7 is an imprecation against the Edomites. The Edomites should have grieved for their Jewish cousins’ defeat at the hands of the Babylonians, instead they rejoiced and even gloated over the Jews’ misfortune.  

Think About It: Read Proverbs 24:17, Job 31:29 – 30, and Obadiah 12. Why is gloating over an enemy’s downfall wrong? How can I avoid this particular sin?

Prayer: Lord, be merciful to me and to all sinners, even to my enemies.


Read: Psalm 137:8 – 9; Isaiah 21:9; Jeremiah 25:12; Revelation 18:2

The prayer of imprecation against the Babylonians in Psalm 137:8 – 9 is unusually harsh and jarring — compared, for example, to Jesus’ prayer in Luke 23:34.

Think About It:  How do the prophecies in today’s Scripture references help to explain the harsh imprecation of Psalm 137:8 – 9?  What light does Psalm 28:4 shed on the matter?  Does God have a right to judge the wicked?   What would happen to me if I got what I deserved?

Prayer: Praise God that His mercy is over all His works.