Psalm 137Complete Jewish Bible
137 By the rivers of Bavel we sat down and wept
as we remembered Tziyon.
2 We had hung up our lyres
on the willows that were there,
3 when those who had taken us captive
asked us to sing them a song;
our tormentors demanded joy from us —
“Sing us one of the songs from Tziyon!”
4 How can we sing a song about Adonai
here on foreign soil?
5 If I forget you, Yerushalayim,
may my right hand wither away!
6 May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth
if I fail to remember you,
if I fail to count Yerushalayim
the greatest of all my joys.
7 Remember, Adonai, against the people of Edom
the day of Yerushalayim’s fall,
how they cried, “Tear it down! Tear it down!
Raze it to the ground!”
8 Daughter of Bavel, you will be destroyed!
A blessing on anyone who pays you back
for the way you treated us!
9 A blessing on anyone who seizes your babies
and smashes them against a rock!
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Repentance and Forgiveness ….
Deuteronomy 30:1-3 English Standard Version
Repentance and Forgiveness
30 “And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, 2 and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.
And when all of these things have come upon you, the blessings and the curses which God had set before His Children in those ancient of Days – their Exile.
And the people call them to mind (thank you Holy Spirit) among all the nations where the Lord their God has unceremoniously driven them – into their exile, to the rivers of Babylon where they now sit defeated, angry and bitter. Psalm 137.
And when all of these things have come upon us, the blessings and the curses which God has set before His beloved Children in these most modern of days – (I will leave it to the reader to fill in their own personal “blessings an curses.”)
And when we the Children of God call them to their own minds (thank you Holy Spirit) among all of the places among the nations, where the Lord our God has unceremoniously driven us – where we now sit (wherever our backsides are), where we contemplate our own senses of deep defeat and anger and bitterness. (However any of us today, God’s children identify themselves with Psalm 137)
Those exiled Children of God in those ancient of days now long gone, were called by God to return to Him with all of their hearts, with all of their souls.
Today, from where ever it is we ourselves feel we are about to forever languish in our extended, indeterminate periods of personal exiles, God is calling us too.
You, the reader, might now have the very distinct impression this devotional is about our entering into a time and season of repentance – true, but not exactly.
There is something critically important which needs to be addressed first before we get to God’s call upon our lives to enter into an extended time of repentance.
That critically important something is – our getting gut level of God – to beyond the one place where our anger, our bitterness and our defeats keep us all prisoners.
Psalm 137, this song of the embittered exiles, this prayer comes to us white hot.
Its raw, open, and continuously salted wound forbids our tendency to ask the questions we so desperately to have answered but are simply far too bitter to ask, give smooth answers in the face of impossible to conceive personal cruelty.
The personal injuries go indescribably, undeniably deep – deeper than we dare to even minimally make even a minimal effort to conceive, try to identify with.
As you read, sing, this song, dare to imagine the scene that birthed this psalm.
The Babylonian guards taunted Jewish slaves, saying, “Hey, sing us a song about how your God is the greatest!” Though the slaves refused to sing, they also refused to forget. They stayed angry and bitter about Babylon’s injustice.
Maybe you know a person who was victimized.
Maybe you were the one whose trust was being abused, victimized or violated.
Maybe you are the one who can so quickly and painfully and bitterly identify with the absolute rawness of the emotions being expressed in these few verses.
Something at work or about your work …
Something about your marriage …
Something about your relationship with your children …
Something about your relationship with someone who thought had your best interests in mind, but then, when the iron sharpened the iron – it was betrayal.
Maybe you are the one whose wondering – Why God? or Where is our God now?
Maybe someone is right now bullying, mocking or has mocked your outrage.
Kicking sand in your face and refuses stop despite your most tearful pleas.
Maybe we are among the many who were raised to think that there are not too many real and actual victims in our world, we suspect most sufferers “by their own behaviors, asked for it” or “brutally deserved, got what they had coming.”
But the psalms do not tolerate keeping such a distance from human suffering.
They make us grapple with the depths of our own personal knowledge and our own pained up experiences of “man’s inhumanity towards man,” bitterness.
They make us grapple with ourselves where we ourselves simply refuse to go.
The Pandora’s boxes of our hearts and souls for which we long trashed the key.
They make us grapple with evil’s reality, demanding that we hate injustice and oppression. They experience, and express, anger on behalf of we, the oppressed.
Psalm 137 stuns, us with the depths of its emotional impact on our entire souls.
And the question needs to be asked before we get to anything called repentance,
Can we ourselves be that gut level brutally honest with ourselves, with God?
Bitterness is a pill no one wants to swallow, forcibly shoved down their throats.
Being bullied or mocked and scorned is nowhere anyone wants to live for long.
Living with the bitterness of betrayal constantly in your mouth is no way to eat, the constant reminder of its taste is definitely no way for anyone to enjoy a life.
But, there it was for those exiles – the reality and all of its excruciating tastes.
Blessings and curses…the bitter taste of God’s blessings, daily eating the curses.
The desire for exacting revenge at all costs, and chewing and swallowing on the chance to bless your enemies with every imaginable curse at every opportunity.
Hating evil is critical for a healthy spiritual life.
Feeling like you are eating, digesting the evil is quite another matter entirely.
Feeling like we need to vomit evil onto someone, if not everyone else, in our sphere of influence, including ourselves, is a feeling we need to acknowledge.
We need to acknowledge before God the depths of exactly where we are in life.
As the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 137, as the ancient editors left it there for us,
There is a definite need for us to be brutally honest with ourselves and with our God, acknowledging and affirming the correctness, necessity of true honesty.
It is absolutely Okay with being brutally honest with yourself and with God too.
Psalm 137 is clearly meant to completely, utterly bust up our sin hardened soul.
To boldly go where no one would dare to go before – the depths of their souls.
To bust up every last vestige of ourselves so, God and God alone can, piece by painful piece, reshape it, reshape us, put our souls and ourselves back together.
Being Honest With Ourselves and Being Honest with God
The best thing we can do for ourselves, our connection and our relationship with God is to be hyper-zealous in expressing our vulnerability before Him.
This means being brutally honest with our selves (Psalm 51, then Psalm 32) and being even more brutally honest with Him.
Please tell me, what relationship is healthy without being brutally honest?
If we absolutely value them as much as God absolutely does, there are none and yet we still seem to think we can’t or shouldn’t be as honest with God as is with us and therefore we also absolutely need to be with the entirety of ourselves.
Our honesty solves a million hurts before they can even be formed and it is the beginning of breaking walls already created.
I can hear you right now,
“But God knows everything, so why do I need to be honest with Him?”
It is about the relationship.
It is two sided.
He knows but He wants your whole heart.
This means when we take a step of faith, as being absolutely vulnerable requires, He knows we heard Him, He know we listened, He delights in us.
“But let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:24
He delights in us as we see Him for who He is – that He is absolutely loving, kind, merciful, forgiving and righteous and just.
This means unhesitatingly taking all of your heartaches, your worries, your thoughts, and your sins to Him!
Being brutally honest because HE DOES KNOW but when we bring Him these things, we submit them to Him as well.
When we lay them at His feet where they belong, unexplainable peace will follow, Peace even when we are still in the situation because He is with us.
I remember walking down the sanctuary hallway at church and feeling deeply frustrated about where God had placed me. I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to feel different. I thought, “eh I can’t be used here. I don’t even want to be here.”
I knew God knew all about my frustrations but when I prayed about it, He changed my heart.
Does this mean all of a sudden that I loved my church?
No, but my prayer changed after I laid my heartbreak of that season down.
My prayer changed from, “Please change this situation” to “Jesus, please show me something more of yourself because I see too much of myself to be any use here.”
I wanted to know why because He is a loving and just God.
All of a sudden, I wanted to stay where I had wanted to hide and flee from, to see just exactly how He was going to do it. I constantly fought with thoughts about why here, but God was faithful in putting a fire of impacting others in me.
He wants to change my thoughts, He wants to transform, shape our thoughts, but we must FIRST allow Him to. This starts with laying them down before Him.
Step 1: Know what you are thinking.
When I started this blog, I prayed to God to use me through these words He gave me. I made a promise to God, myself to be honest about where I was, even when it wasn’t pretty because when I admitted to the struggles, could change occur.
Have these efforts been a Success or Failure – I cannot say …. the blog continues and so, therefore does the works of God – to continually shape, reshape my life.
My Life is still My Life, but I daily pray my life gradually becomes more like His.
This is why we must be vulnerable with Him. He wants to turn our heartaches into triumphs, but He won’t force His way in. He wants us to hand Him all the keys to our Pandora’s box and help us walk away from them and not fall back in.
He absolutely wants to show us how to live abundantly.
This also means doing so truthfully.
I didn’t like where I had been planted by God at first and it did not change just because I thought I could get used to bitterness, no it took a change of thoughts.
I had to pray daily, continuously that God would use me in spite of me and show me something new there. That He would give me a mission. And WOW, He did!
Step 2: Tell Him what you are feeling and thinking.
Admitting where we are takes strength.
Let me be honest with you, it takes guts.
Can we admit we are NOT strong enough to beat defeat bitterness on our own?
Can we admit we are NOT able to fix our defeat and bitterness ourselves?
Feelings are fleeting but boy, they are painfully real when you experience them.
He is not afraid of what you are feeling – but we are absolutely afraid of them.
Let the entire truth of God through His Living Word overtake all your feelings.
I told Him where I was at with it.
I didn’t like it, but I chose to accept it.
To trust that His reasons are better – Proverbs 3:1-12, 16:1-7, Isaiah 1:17-20
Step 3: Let His Word speak to you.
Our knowledge and experience of our Savior Christ is absolutely greater than our knowledge and experience of our bitterness, our fears and our worries.
Knowing these awesome truths led me to chase after Him.
To seek what He wanted with whole lot more love over what I did at the time.
Now, I would not take it back, but you know what they say, hindsight is 20/20.
Genesis to Revelation: He knows the beginning, the end with every in between.
“A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” President Theodore Roosevelt
In a miracle of the cross, Jesus teaches us to love our enemies – even when our greatest enemies are not those who have embittered us – but is only ourselves.
So we trust vengeance to him alone.
Psalm 137 shows there is no room for false piety or trying to appear respectable.
Reading, Praying, Studying, Sharing, Magnifying the Word of God means we can be brutally honest with God about what we ourselves are brutally feeling.
We can even bring our worst kind of bitter anger to God and lay it at his feet.
Because God so love the World …. Because God so loved every single one of us, God got brutally honest in His expression of desire for everlasting relationship.
On a Hill far away …. stood an Old Rugged Cross … the emblem of suffering ….
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
1. Jesus, keep me near the cross;
there a precious fountain,
free to all, a healing stream,
flows from Calvary’s mountain.
In the cross, in the cross,
be my glory ever,
till my raptured soul shall find
rest beyond the river.
2. Near the cross, a trembling soul,
love and mercy found me;
there the bright and morning star
sheds its beams around me.
3. Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
bring its scenes before me;
help me walk from day to day
with its shadow o’er me.
4. Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
hoping, trusting ever,
till I reach the golden strand
just beyond the river.