Ps 137 – “And you, Babylonians — ravagers! A reward to the one who grabs your babies and smashes their heads on the rocks!”
The violence always shocks me. It shocks me again right now.
Is it OK to pray like this? To sing songs like this? To even think like this?
As a solo Psalm, Psalm 137 reflects bitterness and despair. If we meditated on it alone, we could easily be drawn into its dark depths. We’d sit with our tears and our pain, and spit out the kind of poison that calls for the killing of babies. With nothing but Psalm 137 at hand, we’d grow angry and hostile, too.
Thankfully, the Psalm is flanked by other words — words of hope, confidence, and gratitude. Psalm 136 (which precedes it) repeats a simple refrain after every line — “GOD’s love never quits.” Psalm 138 (which follows it) begins with thankfulness — “Thank you! Everything in me says ‘Thank you!'” Sandwiched between these Psalms is the dark night of the soul; the Psalm of resentment and acrimony.
Truthfully speaking, many of us have secretly desired that physical harm befall those who have attacked us, betrayed us, or violated us. It only seems fair. Our sense of justice almost demands it. What we have endured, they should also experience. Our pain should be passed to them. We sit and weep and rail against our oppressors, and GOD listens. He permits these cries.
Yet, our healing comes when we resolve to trust Him rather than avenge ourselves. Vengeance, which can lie just beneath the surface for us, resolves and restores nothing. But when we press into Him, He makes our lives “large with strength” (Psalm 138).
Trust the Lord. Lean on Him. Leave your enemies and their children to Him.