Psalms 137

Listen to Psalms 137
1 By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows[a] there we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
4 1How shall we sing the LORD's song in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, 2let my right hand forget its skill!
6 Let my 3tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!
7 Remember, O LORD, against the 4Edomites 5the day of Jerusalem, how they said, 6"Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!"
8 O daughter of Babylon, 7doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who 8repays you with what you have done to us!
9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and 9dashes them against the rock!

Psalms 137 Commentary

Chapter 137

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.

Cross References 9

  • 1. [Nehemiah 2:3]
  • 2. [Psalms 76:5]
  • 3. Job 29:10; Ezekiel 3:26
  • 4. Isaiah 34:5, 6; Lamentations 4:21, 22; Ezekiel 35:2; [Amos 1:11, 12]; See Jeremiah 49:7-22; Ezekiel 25:12-14; Obad. 8-14
  • 5. See Job 18:20
  • 6. Habakkuk 3:13; Zephaniah 2:14
  • 7. Isaiah 21:9; Isaiah 47:1-15; Jeremiah 25:12; Jeremiah 50:1-46; Jeremiah 51:1-64; See Isaiah 13:1-22
  • 8. Jeremiah 51:24, 56; [Psalms 28:4]
  • 9. 2 Kings 8:12; Isaiah 13:16; Hosea 10:14; Nahum 3:10

Footnotes 1

Chapter Summary


The occasion of this psalm was the captivity of the Jews in Babylon, and the treatment they met with there; either as foreseen, or as now endured. Aben Ezra ascribes this psalm to David; and so the Syriac version, which calls it,

``a psalm of David; the words of the saints, who were carried captive into Babylon.''

The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions, make it to be David's, and yet add the name of Jeremiah; and the Arabic version calls it David's, concerning Jeremiah: but, as Theodoret observes, Jeremiah was not carried into Babylon, but, after some short stay in or near Jerusalem, was forced away into Egypt; and could neither be the writer nor subject of this psalm: and though it might be written by David under a spirit of prophecy; who thereby might foresee and foretell the Babylonish captivity, and what the Jews would suffer in it; as the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah did, many years before it came to pass; yet it seems rather to have been written by one of the captivity, either while in it, or immediately after it.

Psalms 137 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.