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Song of Solomon
Psalms 137 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
By the rivers of Babylon
The Euphrates and the canals derived from it, which were many, and filled with running, not stagnant, water. These would present themselves to the exiles as "rivers."
There we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
The exiles had their leisure hours - they were not kept by their masters at hard work continually. During these leisure hours they
"sat down" by the rivers of Babylon, as the most pleasant and attractive places. They brought their harps with them (ver. 2), with some idea, perhaps, of indulging in mournful strains. Grief, however, overpowered them - Zion came to their recollection-and they could do nothing but weep.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof
. The superfluous "harps" were "hung" up upon the trees that grew by the watercourses. These are called "willows," or, according to some, "poplars," but were probably of a different species from any of the trees that grew in Palestine. The chief Babylonian tree was the palm, which grew in the greatest luxuriance along the courses of all the streams (Herod., 1:193; Atom Man., 24:3; Zosim., 3. pp. 173-179). Tamarisks, poplars, and acacias were also common, but true "willows" hardly appear to have ever been a product of the country. The '
of our author was probably either a poplar or a tamarisk.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us
required of us
, Sing us
of the songs of Zion.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song
words of song
. The oppressors break into the retired gathering of their captives, and "require of them a song" - demand roughly and rudely to be entertained with the foreign music, which is perhaps sweeter than their own, or at any rate more of a novelty.
And they that wasted us required us mirth
. Not only was "a song" wanted but a joyous song - one that would wake feelings of mirth and gladness in those who heard it. Saying,
sing us one of the songs of Zion
sing us frown a song of Zion
. The captives had, no doubt, spoken of the joyous strains which they had been wont to pour forth in their own city upon festive occasions. Their conquerors demand a specimen, but are repulsed with the words of the next verse.
How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?
How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?
The "songs of Zion" are Jehovah's songs, used in his worship, suited only for religious occasions. It would be desecration to sing them "in a strange land," among strange people, not to call forth devotional sentiment, but to gratify curiosity.
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning
let my right hand forget
; but the words supplied in the Authorized Version are necessary to bring out the sense, which is, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, so far as to desecrate thy sacred songs by making them an entertainment for the heathen, may I never have power to strike a note again!"
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.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.
Let me be deprived of the power of song. What was wished in the preceding verso with respect to the power of instrumental performance is here wished with respect to the vocal organs.
If I prefer not Jerusalem
above my chief joy.
This seems to be the true sense, and is equivalent to "If I prefer not Jerusalem above aught else."
Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase
to the foundation thereof.
Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem
to the children of Edom the day of Jerusalem
. "The day of Jerusalem" is the day of her fall, when Edom took part with her enemies, and rejoiced at her destruction (see
Lamentations 4:21, 22
). The psalmist prays God to "remember" this to Edom, and requite it upon her (comp.
, where the same expression is used in a good sense).
Who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof
. "destroy the city utterly - leave not one stone upon another." The enmity between Edom and Israel was of the intensest character (see
1 Kings 11:15, 16
1 Chronicles 18:12
Amos 1:11, 12
O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy
shall he be
, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
O daughter of Babylon
. O nation of the Babylonians (comp.
Isaiah 47:1, 5
Who art to be destroyed
thou desolated one
. The desolation of Babylon began with its capture by Cyrus, but was not completed for many centuries. In the Archaemenian period it was one of the chief cities of the empire. Even under the Parthians it was still a flourishing town. But from the time of Isaiah's prophecy (
) it was a doomed city, and in the eyes of a devout Jew already "desolate."
Happy shall he
be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us
. happy shall he be that completes thy destruction, and the destruction of thy people. He will be the instrument for carrying out God's vengeance.
shall he be
, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
shall he be,
that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones
. that brings on thee the worst calamities of war (see
2 Kings 8:12
Courtesy of Open Bible
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