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PSALM 137

ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING CHAPTERS IN ALL THE BIBLE!

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof. O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones."

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON 1, VERSE 1:

It's one of those Texts we preachers fear!

Or at least we do not preach it!

Not the whole chapter, anyway.

I'm thinking of Psalm 137.

And the reason we don't "touch" it, not publicly for sure?

It's that last verse!

Oh, we may use a verse or two early in the Psalm, or perhaps toward the middle, but not at the end!

And that presents a problem to a verse-by-verse preacher. And there's no telling how many of them remain, sharing God's Word just like God thought it! In His order and using His vocabulary!

If I approach a Psalm fully intending to cover it all, Psalm 137 becomes more formidable! In fact, downright scary!

Here's that last verse, the one that is so criticized. "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." Psalm 137:9

That's in the Bible?

Looks like it is!

Yet it concludes a series of thoughts that sure do need to be preached in our day and time.

Read with me the whole Psalm, it being so short.

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof. O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." Psalm 137, in its entirety.

Wow!

Obviously it was written from Babylon, during the seventy years Judah spent "captive" in that worldly place.

Also it is a sad Psalm!

And filled with some "imprecations" as well! Those are prayers for judgment upon the wicked! It's just that Bible "critics" say the Psalmist went "too far" when he wrote those last few words, even though he is speaking to Babylon, one of the most ungodly nations to ever exist.  "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." 

Well, I'd like to say today that this preacher believes it's all the Word of God!

Every verse in Psalm 137, every word for that matter.

And I believe it contains no mistakes, not a one!

Let's notice this Psalm a verse at a time, maybe two verses some days, until we reach its end, a conclusion that will not be so shocking once we have studied its context.

I'd even like to begin today, with that first verse anyway. It's introductory in nature.

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion."

The writer is anonymous, his name unknown.

The "rivers" of Babylon were numerous. I discovered that both the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers flow though Babylon. And some sources say that canals were dug also, connecting these two water sources. Lots of water, in Babylon, streams and ponds aplenty!

Maybe too the riverside here reminded this sad Jew about his homeland, around Jordan maybe, Israel's main river!

I'm sure you also took note of the fact that our writer is "weeping." The verb is "bakah" in Hebrew, "to cry or shed tears." It can even mean "to wail," to cry out loud! The verb's timing is expressed particularly to suggest that his crying may not have lasted the whole seventy years of the Babylonian ordeal. It is an already completed action by the time he tells us the story.

But why is he crying so?

I can answer that.

Because of sin!

Judah had sinned against God!

Repeatedly!

Read the Book of Jeremiah!

God had warned His people!

"Quit sinning!"

"Repent!"

Get right with God ... or else!

And the "or else" means?

God will judge the whole Nation!

Even though they are His "chosen people."

Yet tragically, Judah, her capital city being Jerusalem, did not repent!

She sinned more and more, in fact.

And, finally, God "whipped" her!

Babylon attacked!

Viciously!

Jerusalem was destroyed, the Temple burned.

Her population, multitudes, were deported to a strange land, to Babylon, emblem of rebellion against Almighty God!

God, as it were, chastened Judah with a "dirty stick!" He let a Nation much more evil that Israel be the "instrument" with which He rebuked His Own people!

Wow!

Judah suffering!

And it's her own fault!

All she has left now are memories!

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion." At least she is recalling the right things! The holy City of God! Zion here is Jerusalem.

Today's Lesson says this.

God judges sin!

Numbers 32:23 is right, "Behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out." Yes, it will!

God judges individuals!

Let's keep our sins confessed, and forsaken!

God judges families!

Again  and again He did so throughout Scripture.

And God judges Nations, too!

Which brings me to this question. "Can God judge America, even?" For all our sins? Sins that are accumulating every single day?

Yes, he can!

And, without repentance, He will!

Some say He has already started.

Yes, our Psalm begins with sadness. "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion."

Sins always lead here, to heartache and sorrow and grief.

It does have wages, you know!

Good news for every Christian reading here today! "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1st John 1:9

But let's balance this glorious Truth with another one. One that applies to Psalm 137 for sure. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." Psalm 9:17

What choices!

Live for Jesus today!

Maybe that way we can avoid Babylon, or whatever nation God might use to "whip" America.

Psalm 137, no wonder we don't preach it that often!

 

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 2:

He had lost his song!

Maybe all the Nation had!

So much so that they laid aside their instruments! Some of those had been invented by King David, too! Amos the Prophet told us about David's genius in that area! "They chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David." Amos 6:6

The Jews are musically inclined folks, talented almost beyond measure.

But still, according to Psalm 137:2, in Babylon they lost it all!

Voluntarily!

"We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof." Today's Text Verse, Psalm 137:2

They, the people of Judah, because of sin and rebellion against God, had been taken "captive" to a strange land!

There they languished for seventy years, just like Jeremiah had prophesied. "And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and Judah shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years." Jeremiah 25:11

But for only seventy years! God "whips" His children, when they obstinately sin, but His Grace is still alive! "For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place." Jeremiah 29:10

I love it when God says things like this, "I will perform My good Word toward you!" He certainly will! He certainly does! He must! It is impossible for Him to be untruthful, according to Hebrews 6:18 anyway.

Israel, Judah to be more specific, is under God's "chastisement" in Babylon!

Still guilty, having not yet repented, they did not care to sing! "We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof."

Sin will do that to you!

It will rob a person of his or her song!

It dissolves the Christian's joy, transforming it into grief!

But just a minute!

I suspect not every Jew in Babylon had lost that joy!

Jeremiah had told them to do this. Quoting God, in fact! "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace." From Jeremiah 29:4-7, surprisingly!

Live your lives!

Seek the peace of the city!

Nothing about silence or sadness here!

Take your "whipping," learn from it, stay strong!

Tough love, isn't it?

But no, some of them mope around! "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof." Psalm 137:1-2

Job, whom I dare say suffered much more than did this Psalmist, kept his song! Much of the time, anyway. Job 35:10, although from the lips of Elihu, still records things about ... "God my maker, who giveth songs in the night."

Yes!

And Paul and Silas sang in jail that night in Philippi!

They did not "hang their harps" on the nearby bars!

It just might be that God would have us, even in dark times, keep on singing!

As much as possible.

 "We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof."  Psalm 137:2, still our Text.

By the way, if those "willow trees" anywhere near resembled ours today, especially the "weeping willows," how very picturesque they must have been! Those beautiful things reflect the very spirit of tears and crying, appearing all droopy and limp!

And this too, a thing to be said in the Psalmist's defense. He merely "hung" his harp in the willows. He did not destroy it! He did not throw it in the water, to be washed downstream somewhere!

He holds out the possibility, perhaps, that some day he might pick that harp up again!

Singing might return!

Joy might rebound!

It might not be gone forever!

Yes, lost joy and song can be retrieved!

In the Lord!

Best not to lose it, ever!

But at least, if it's gone, remember that it can be regained!

David proves that, clearly saying so. In prayer to God, Psalm 51:12, he pleads: "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation." He wanted it back!

And believing that joy can be lost or gained incrementally, John wants us to have it in its very "fullness!"

Want proof? "And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." Plus, "Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full." Taken from 1st John 1:4 and 2nd John Verse 12.

Wow!

Next time things are difficult for you, if you can, keep on singing!

Jesus did, even the night He was arrested! Immediately after what we now call the Lord's Supper, "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives." Matthew 26:30

How about you, today, friend?

And me?

Are we joyful in Jesus?

Have we lost our delight in Him?

Let's try to never, at least for any significant amount of time, hang our harps by the wayside!

Paul admonished us all, "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;  giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 6:19-20

Of course that "singing" thing does come immediately after these great words, too. "Be ye filled with the Spirit!"

He makes the difference!

He, the Holy Spirit, bears in our lives "fruit," part of which is "joy!"

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Galatians 5:22-23, wonderful!

See that quality second on the list?

Joy!

Joy!

Joy!

Claim yours today!

In fact, it's already "in" you, just tap into its reality!

Let it flow!

Smile!

Bubble over down inside!

Happy in Jesus!

Do not "hang your harps on the willow trees."

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Now I know Solomon taught us that there is ... "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." And that Proverbs 25:20 adds: "As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart." And even Paul suggests we should: "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." Romans 12:15

But still, when you're in Babylon, and the lost world is "watching" ... please keep on singing!

About Jesus!

Praise His Name!

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 3:

We are journeying through a Psalm.

Not a bright and cheerful one, either.

The writer is in prison, confined to a foreign land.

A Jew in Babylon!

"For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion." Psalm 137:3

Every worldview reflects one's attitude toward God.

A person's philosophy of life is always theological, to some degree!

The Psalm mentions the people "that carried us away captive." In other words, the Babylonians themselves. The verb "carried away captive" translates "shabah," meaning "to subjugate." It's a qal participle, too! It is as if the Psalmist is being "carried away" time and time again! Every day is a new surrender! He is living in torment!

But still, exactly who is responsible for Judah's plight here?

Is it really the Babylonians, those heathen gentiles?

Hardly!

First of all, the Captor is Almighty God!

Judah had sinned!

Against her Creator and Redeemer!

And her incarceration was due to God's chastening Hand upon the little Nation, not due to Babylonian strength.

Psalm 119:75 would have better fit into the Psalmist's mouth. "I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me."

Listen also to Jeremiah in Lamentations 1:5. "The LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy."

"They that carried us away captive?"

That's giving way too much credit to Nebuchadnezzar and his army!

Yet our Verse continues. "For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion." Psalm 137:3

The Jew's jailers want to hear some music!

That verb "required" is pretty strong, but not necessarily brutal. "Shaal" just means "asked" 94 times in the King James Bible. While it only means "required" 7 times. The noun "song" is "dabar," really the normal word for "speech." It might be the "words" of the song as much as the "melody" that is being sought.

Anyway, the writer is in no singing "mood!"

He continues, "They that wasted us required of us mirth." This second line is parallel to the first clause, saying the very same thing again. "For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth ...."

The verb "wasted" is "tolal," meaning "tormented or plundered!" It's from "yalal" they think, meaning "to howl or to wail!" And "mirth" is "simchah," the regular word for "joy or gladness."

Since "wasted" carries the inherent idea of "howling," perhaps the writer of Psalm 137 is hinting that "crying and wailing and moaning" are better responses to the situation than "singing," at least for the moment!

The Babylonians ask, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion." That's all they want. To hear the music of Israel.

Wait a minute.

If they are asking the Jews to change their music, to alter it to conform to Babylonian standards, that's one thing. And a bad thing at that!

But if they are merely interested in the songs of God, that's another thing altogether!

In that case I would say, "Sing away!"

Why?

For this reason.

Read it with me, noticing especially the capitalized words. It's from Acts 16, two preachers in jail! "And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them."

Somebody was listening!

A revival breaks out, too!

It would not surprise me that the Philippian Church soon contained some old ex-jailbirds!

Ex-prisoners!

Folks who heard this strange concert that dark night!

Had Paul and Silas refused to sing, would these events have transpired? I doubt it.

I wish the Psalmist, back to Psalm 137, had sung a song or two!

Whether he felt like it or not!

Did Jesus "feel" like singing the night He was betrayed, arrested, and beaten? Probably not, yet He sang nonetheless! According to Matthew 26:30. One of the Psalms likely! "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives."

Our Text Verse again: "For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion." Psalm 137:3

If the singing is all about me, let me keep my mouth shut when I am sad.

If singing is all about Him, let me sing at all times!

Because, who knows?

Somebody may be listening!

After all, we can sing God's Word too! "Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage." Psalm 119:54, at which point "singing" becomes "preaching!"

If you can't sing about the past, or even the present, then sing about the future! For example, "Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance." Psalm 32:7, Songs of deliverance!

Wow!

                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Makes me think of "Victory in Jesus!"

Or "We're on the Winning Side!"

Or even "The King is Coming!"

Or, if it can be set to music, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

Songs of deliverance!

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 4:

Today's Verse is a question.

The writer of Psalm 137 asks it sincerely.

Here it is, word for word. "How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?" Psalm 137:4

He asks this as if it's an impossibility.

Not just "how" can we sing, but he nearly wonders "can" we sing the Lord's song in a strange land, at all?

The answer to that is, "Yes!"

God's people have been singing in unusual, hostile places for a long time!

The first specific song in the Bible occurred in an ocean bed, the Red Sea to be exact! Exodus 15:1, "Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea."

Before that the angels sang somewhere in outer space, prior to the world being created! Listen to God question Job, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. When the morning stars (angels) sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" Job 38:7

In Judges 5:1 Deborah and Barak sang during combat! At the end of an impossible battle! "Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying, Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves."

David, in Psalm 7, is singing about one of his enemies, an ultra dangerous one! "Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the LORD, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite. O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me."

And I have not even mentioned Paul and Silas, backs bleeding and bones aching, singing in jail that night, Acts 16:25. "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them."

The point I'm trying to make is this, no matter what the surroundings, God can give a song!

Job 35:10 calls them, "songs in the night!" Here it is: "But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night."

So, our Psalmist today might not be able to sing, but multitudes of other Christians through the ages certainly have done so! Melodiously praising the Lord, no matter the surroundings!

Still, we must study our Verse for this Monday morning. "How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?" Psalm 137:4, We can't just change the words!

The point this writer is making, seems to me, is that he is now in a strange land.

And the Lord's Song does not "fit" there.

Get that, "the Lord's song!"

We've all heard of "the Lord's Day."

And "the Lord's House."

And "the Lord's Prayer."

"The Lord's Supper," too.

But now, the Lord's song!

Any song that glorifies Him is that, His Song!

Something written a thousand years ago, or thirty minutes ago! Again I say, if it glorifies our God in Heaven!

The Psalmist, bless his heart, is melancholy, depressed, unhappy and not willing to even try singing!

No!

"How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?"

In closing today, let me define that adjective "strange." The word "nekar" is derived from "nakar" in Hebrew, a word suggesting something "unknown." That's a reverse reading of its etymology, really, but the only one that fits.

And, refusing to use the normal word for "land," which is "eretzs," as in the Holy Land, he uses "adamah," just plain old "dirt or clay!" Red clay, really!

Babylon is a strange land.

Here's my thought.

God, when judging a people, when punishing a population, can act in one of two ways. He can take them and physically move them, transporting them far away to another location.

Or, number two, He can just change their own land, their "homeland," altering it into a "strange" place!

I wonder if America is under such judgment?

Has God's patience just about exhausted itself on us?

Are hard times, justly so, on the horizon?

I'm not saying God is going to deport millions upon millions of us.

I am suggesting that God may be allowing things to change in this beloved Land, though.

Changing in a hurry!

Freedoms evaporating!

Old alliances weakening, with Israel specifically!

New ones being created!

Companies nationalized!

We may be a short step away from religion being regulated, too, in small ways at first. It's already illegal to preach against certain subjects!

Things are changing!

This familiar old County is sure enough looking "strange" these days!

I am not trying to be political, just practical.

If we persist in our blatant sin, nationally, "bright days" might not always await us!

Health and wealth may not be in our future, this week-end's legislation notwithstanding.

It's really hard "to borrow" one's way to prosperity!

"How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?"

I don't know, in every case.

But we Americans may be soon going to find out!

Our land becomes a little more strange every week, it seems!

Lord, keep us singing!

No matter what!

While Psalm 137 is pessimistic, Psalm 32 is not! Here's the idea, expressed in different words. "O God, Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance."

See it?

"Songs!"

"Songs of deliverance!"

Sent from God above!

To "compass" us is "to surround" us! "Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance."

I say it again, "Keep on singing!"

Even in dark days!

Anybody got a melody in your heart today?

"Making melody in your heart to the Lord." That's exactly what Ephesians 5:19 says!

Sing, folks, sing!

Wherever you are.

After all, we serve a great God!

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSES 5 AND 6:

Today, since the next two verses are similar, we must study them both. They are unusual.

Psalm 137 is too, the whole chapter, unusual.

"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy." So writes this unnamed musician, in Psalm 137:5-6.

One of the most harmful criticisms leveled against Scripture finds its roots nearby. Where the Holy Spirit records: "O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." Psalm 137:8-9, two verses often called "imprecations." That means "a prayer for God's judgment to fall upon someone."

Wicked Babylon, some day, will reap what she has sown! She will be treated the same as she has treated Israel! Their men, soldiers mostly, will be slain. Wives too, and according to that last verse, even their little ones! There's even a note of "happiness" in the fulfillment of these stark events.

But, and this is important, not a word is recorded against Babylon or anyone else ... until the Psalmist first pronounces judgment against himself!

He has not asked anything for his enemy ... that is not a possibility for his own being! His "curses" fall impartially on everyone around!

Listen again. "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."

This is a serious minded Jew! A dedicated follower of the Lord God Almighty! He in some ways reminds me of the New Testament's James, author of the five chapters bearing his name, the Epistle of James.

When he is willing to undergo the loss of the use of his right hand, that's astounding! He is virtually asking for a "stroke," catastrophic back in those days, if he ever "forgets" the city of God!

The verb "forget" is "shakach," meaning "to ignore" as well as "forget." Another definition, "to allow to wither." It contains an element of "neglect," outright "carelessness" really.

He wants to respect, not Babylon, capital city of the world back then, but Jerusalem, God's dwelling place.

To pronounce a curse on oneself, a stroke even, is quite an event!

But this writer has done so!

Then he "hits" again. "Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy." If anything, this is even more severe!

He's going to love and respect the location of God's Temple, God's priesthood, and the future Hill we now call Calvary! Where Jesus died! He's determined to do so! At any cost!

Even his right hand!

Or his very tongue!

Both can go, if he worships not God rightly!

This reminds me of Jesus' saying one day, talking about Hell. "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." Both Matthew 18 and Mark 9 record this sermon.

See?

One's hand!

One's foot!

Even one's eye!

Better to lose these body parts ... than die and go to Hell!

Back to the Psalmist now.

His right hand!

His ability to talk, to sing, the use of his tongue!

He is as every bit as severe as was the Lord.

And he's not even talking about going to Hell.

Rather, just not loving the things that are important to God!

Wow!

Do I feel that strongly about my Christian service?

Do you?

Many are willing to love Jesus, as long as their health is good!

Or their funds are plentiful!

Or their family well!

But this man, Mr. Psalm 137, is not like that.

In fact, if he does not live right, he desires such "retribution!" Let God "whip" him, severely!

Loss of dexterity.

Loss of speech.

Talk about presenting your body a living sacrifice!

This type of self-discipline is maybe too strong for today's palate, but it likely would keep one out of a lot of trouble.

Do not misunderstand me.

God does not ask for self-mutilation!

That's not what the Psalmist has in mind.

But he is willing to let God bring upon him whatever is necessary to keep him straight!

That's dedication!

Now, for Brother Bagwell's part, I will not be praying these words!

But I still want to love the things God loves!

And dislike the things He dislikes!

And if I do not live that way, a holy and godly life, be sure of this. God will "whip" me, "chasten" me, as one of His children!

"If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." Just a few lines from Hebrews 12, God's "chastening" handbook in the New Testament.

But still, I'll let God choose the "method" of punishment, and the "target" too!

But that does not in any way belittle this Psalmist's intensity to serve the Lord, not at all.

He did not live in the Age of Grace.

But back in the stern days of the Mosaic Law.

"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy." Psalm 137:5-6.

What love!

Paul had it, too!

"I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites." Romans 9:2-4, in part. Literally, Paul was willing to "go to Hell," if only his fellow Jews would be saved!

That's far beyond "right hands" and "healthy tongues!"

These men sure shame a lot of us present day Christians, I'm afraid.

How deeply do I love Jesus?

Here's what He desires from us all. "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." Mark 12:30

Today's Lesson is complete, leaving us a lot to ponder.

Think about it, too.

Oh, one last verse.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Paul again, wouldn't you know it? From Romans 12:1 to be precise.

A sacrifice!

                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Hey,

The "health and wealth" preachers of today would not comment much on the verses we've covered today! Not much of their "prosperity" gospel" here, not at all. But it's still the Word of God!

 

 

LESSON 6, VERSE 7:

Now today we study one of the "hard" verses of our Psalm, Psalm 137. It's the one about Edom, the wicked descendants of Esau.

"Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof." Psalm 137:7

In the same way Esau was related to Jacob, so were the Edomites related to the Jews! Yet the children of Edom hated the children of Jacob, intensely so! Historically it seems like the people of Edom did all they could to hinder, hate, and even fight the people of Israel, time and time again.

And the day Babylon launched that final attack against Jerusalem, the Edomites cheered and aided ... the enemy! Helped the Babylonians, against their own kinsmen, the Jews!

What indignity!

What disloyalty!

What lack of love!

Hence this prayer from our Verse for today. Prayed by Mr. Psalm 137 against the Edomites!

"Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof." 

And, looks to me like, this is not a prayer of hated, after all. Our author is just turning them over to God!

He has not shot a single arrow toward Edom!

He has not slain one citizen of that fair land!

Nor so much as hurled a single stone their way!

He has just prayed about them!

"Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof." 

Now, granted, this is not a "Jabez" type prayer!

Nothing here about God "blessing them indeed!"

But what the Psalmist desires is not necessarily a sin either.

"Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof."   

Why can't we do that?

Instead of gossiping and slandering and hating, or nearly hating, that person who "wronged" us ... why can't we just ask the Lord to have His way with them?

That's what Paul did, several times, when he had been mistreated. For example, "Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works." 2nd Timothy 4:14.

Well, Paul did add this about Alexander, warning the young preacher Timothy. "Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words." Watch that Alexander, Timothy. He's not trustworthy! 2nd Timothy 4:15

That's doing even more than our Psalmist did, I think. "Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof."  

Wow!

This is simply, in a way, obeying something Peter said, too. "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." Tell Jesus everything, even when somebody wrongs you! 1st Peter 5:7

That's much better than retaliation!

Than taking things into your own hands!

And especially, than fuming and stewing and boiling with inner hatred or animosity or ill will!

Goodness!

A late Lesson today, but not an insignificant one.

"Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof."  

Praying about everything!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Now,

A few definitions for today's Verse. Words are important, especially Bible words! Each is inspired of God.

"Remember" translates "zakar," meaning "to call to mind." It's the first word in the Hebrew sentence, as in English, giving it great importance. It is also an imperative mood verb. The Psalmist is serious. Often Old Testament prayer is framed as an imperative. That important, urgent!

"Edom" means "red," while Esau's name, their forefather, means "hairy." Truth be told, "Adam" means "red" too. Or "ruddy."

"Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof." Psalm 137:7

The verb "rase," used twice, means "to make bare, to strip of everything." It's spelled "arah," and is a piel imperative. An intensive verb, eagerness and vehemence being implied.

The Edomites were "cheerleaders" for the marauding, looting, plundering Babylonians, against the Jews!

What lack of Brotherly Love!

What outright hatred!

"Lord, you must handle this." That's all the Psalm is asking. "Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof." Psalm 137:7

A Lesson about prayer!

 

 

LESSON 7, VERSES 8 AND 9:

These may be the most "criticized" verses in all the Bible!

Yet the attacks on this passage are misguided, I  believe.

The writer has Babylon in mind, one of the most wicked Nations that ever existed. The people whom God used to capture, deport and nearly destroy the Nation of Judah!

To these ungodly folks, the last two verses of Psalm 137 are directed. And they are pretty strong, indeed!

"O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." Psalm 137:8-9

As far as the first part of the Text is concerned, the Psalmist is merely saying, "Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap." Paul agrees, saying that very same thing many years later, in Galatians 6:7.

"O daughter of Babylon; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us." What goes around, comes around! The law of divine retribution! "Be sure your sins will find you out." Numbers 32:23

And as far as that "who art to be destroyed" clause is concerned, God has said that about Babylon time and time again, all the way through the Bible! The last time being in Revelation chapter eighteen. "Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour is thy judgment come. That great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. For in one hour is she made desolate. Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all." Wow, excerpts from Revelation 18.

Wicked Babylon is on God's "to do" list, to be destroyed!

And Psalm 137:8 merely recognizes that fact! "O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us."

Let me tell you something. Every nation that rebels against God will face the same thing. Unless it repents! "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." Psalm 9:17

But it's that last verse that's more stringent.

Still talking to Babylon, "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." Psalm 137:9

Mercy!

Maybe I should write, No Mercy!

But here again, this is not the Psalmist asking God to do this!

Not at all.

He is merely quoting an earlier Bible Text, one spoken by God Himself! About Babylon, "Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished. Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children." Isaiah 13:16-18, with verse 1 proving Babylon is the subject of this judgment.

Then, Mr. Psalm 137 is just quoting Scripture concerning Babylon! Trusting God to do what He has previously promised!

Such prayer is called "imprecation."

In reality, it is just agreeing with God, recalling something He has already promised to do yet in the future! Just claiming His inerrant Word!

Judgment!

And the Medes and the Persians, in Daniel chapter five style, did conquer Babylon and did destroy their men, women and children!

No Nation, no matter who she is, can ever "curse" Israel, seeking to destroy God's "special" people, without God's Wrath falling upon her, on the aggressor.

To disobey God is a serious thing.

Sin has wages, terrible ones!

"The way of transgressors is hard." Proverbs 13:15, so true!

"The wages of sin is death." That's right Paul, Romans 6:23.

And Hell is no joke!

Furthermore, every lost person on earth, much less these apostate Babylonians, rests at this very minute under the condemnation of God! "He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:18

Even more so, "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." John 3:36, God's Wrath!

These last two verses, both written by John the Apostle of Love, describe something far worse than the death of little babies!

An eternity of torment and suffering in literal unquenchable Fire! Where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth! So says Jesus.

And the people who most criticize this verse, "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones," they are the very folks who believe in abortion on demand. They cheer at the slaughter of a million and a half little unborn babies, in America alone, every year!

"Liberty," that's called, abortion. "Freedom" for women! "Choice," they label it. And all is fine.

But then, when it comes to Psalm 137:9?

"Murder," that same liberal crowd yells!

Well, something is inconsistent here!

Think I'll take God's value system rather than man's!

He has never made a mistake yet, and He's not going to start today!

Whatever He does!

It's like Genesis 18:25 asks: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

Let me answer that.

Yes!

He will do right!

Even when He judges Babylon!

God is Holy!

God is sinless!

God is righteousness itself!

And He will never err!

Amen.

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

 

 

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