Thursday, May 23. Psalms 135 – 137

Ouch.

The ending of Psalm 137 takes us by surprise.

This is a captivity psalm, written during the 6th century Babylonian exile of Israel. One of the grievances other nations had against Israel was the insulting way in which Israel held her religion. The nations were perfectly willing to accept the gods of other people. There was great tolerance. This was not true for Israel’s religion (the religion – not necessarily the people’s view). Israel’s God claimed that He alone was God and forbade the worship of any other god in His land, and this intolerance, the nations believed, was intolerable.

How could this nation, who now lay prone under the boot of Babylon, possibly claim her God was superior to the gods of the Babylonians – much less the only God? No wonder the Babylonians taunted them with “where is your god”? Israel must have heard it as “where is your god now?”

Perhaps the request for a “song of Zion” was another taunt.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps it is a telling feature of Israel’s religion, a faith at whose heart lies a joy and confidence that must pour forth in joyous praise that lifts the spirits of all who hear! Outside of Judaism and Christianity (and more so in Christianity), no other religion on the face of God’s earth has music as such an integral part of its DNA. Perhaps the Babylonian captors had been impressed with that — much as the jailer would be in Philippi centuries later (Acts 16).

But there is always the chance that deep within the most joyous heart lies a smoldering resentment toward persecution and oppression that eventually breaks through with horrid sentiment. Such is the case with this psalm. There is no way around this condition. It happens. When it happens to you, be sure to take it to God.