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Psalm 137 English Standard Version (ESV)

How Shall We Sing the Lord’s Song?

137 By the waters of Babylon,
  there we sat down and wept,
  when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there
  we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors
  required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
  “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How shall we sing the Lord’s song
  in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
  let my right hand forget its skill!
6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
  if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
  above my highest joy!

7 Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites
  the day of Jerusalem,
how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,
  down to its foundations!”
8 O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
  blessed shall he be who repays you
  with what you have done to us!
9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
  and dashes them against the rock!


  • The psalmist mourned the plight of the exiled Israelites. He expressed strong love for Zion and strong hatred for Israel’s enemies.
  • In Babylon, far from their ancient homeland, the Jewish people felt crushed and isolated from God. Only when God acted again, to crush their oppressors and restore them to the Holy Land, would songs of joy again spring from their lips.
  • It is only when we see God at work, in history and in our present lives, that we know real joy. Jesus put it this way, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24). Christ did not imply that receiving the thing we pray for will bring joy. His point was that in the answer to prayer we will sense God at work, and this – God active in our lives – gives us joy.
  • Have you enjoyed this kind of joy – knowing God was active in your life and working for you? What was the situation? How did you feel about that? Find a chance to share it with another person, and the joy you experienced.