The Jews bewail their captivity. (1-4) Their affection for Jerusalem. (5-9)
Verses 1-4 Their enemies had carried the Jews captive from their own land. To complete their woes, they insulted over them; they required of them mirth and a song. This was very barbarous; also profane, for no songs would serve but the songs of Zion. Scoffers are not to be compiled with. They do not say, How shall we sing, when we are so much in sorrow? but, It is the Lord's song, therefore we dare not sing it among idolaters.
Verses 5-9 What we love, we love to think of. Those that rejoice in God, for his sake make Jerusalem their joy. They stedfastly resolved to keep up this affection. When suffering, we should recollect with godly sorrow our forfeited mercies, and our sins by which we lost them. If temporal advantages ever render a profession, the worst calamity has befallen him. Far be it from us to avenge ourselves; we will leave it to Him who has said, Vengeance is mine. Those that are glad at calamities, especially at the calamities of Jerusalem, shall not go unpunished. We cannot pray for promised success to the church of God without looking to, though we do not utter a prayer for, the ruin of her enemies. But let us call to mind to whose grace and finished salvation alone it is, that we have any hopes of being brought home to the heavenly Jerusalem.
Psalms 137:1-9 . This Psalm records the mourning of the captive Israelites, and a prayer and prediction respecting the destruction of their enemies.
1. rivers of Babylon--the name of the city used for the whole country.
remembered Zion--or, Jerusalem, as in Psalms 132:13 .
2. upon the willows--which may have grown there then, if not now; as the palm, which was once common, is now rare in Palestine.
3, 4. Whether the request was in curiosity or derision, the answer intimates that a compliance was incongruous with their mournful feelings ( Proverbs 25:20 ).
5, 6. For joyful songs would imply forgetfulness of their desolated homes and fallen Church. The solemn imprecations on the hand and tongue, if thus forgetful, relate to the cunning or skill in playing, and the power of singing.
7-9. Remember . . . the children of Edom--(Compare Psalms 132:1 ), that is, to punish.
the day of Jerusalem--its downfall ( Lamentations 4:21 Lamentations 4:22 , Obadiah 1:11-13 ).
8. daughter of Babylon--the people ( Psalms 9:13 ). Their destruction had been abundantly foretold ( Isaiah 13:14 , Jeremiah 51:23 ). For the terribleness of that destruction, God's righteous judgment, and not the passions of the chafed Israelites, was responsible.