Psalms 137:5

5 If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.

Psalms 137:5 in Other Translations

5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget how to play the harp.
5 If I ever forget you, Jerusalem, let my fingers wither and fall off like leaves.
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget [its skill].

Psalms 137:5 Meaning and Commentary

Psalms 137:5

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem
This was said by one or everyone of the Levites; or singers, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi; or by the congregation of Israel, as Jarchi; by one of them, in the name of the rest; or by the composer of the psalm. The Targum is,

``the voice of the Spirit of God answered and said, "if I forget"''

that is, to weep over the calamities of Jerusalem; which might be thought, if the songs of Zion were sung; or to pray for the restoration of her prosperity and peace; as the church of Christ may be said to be forgotten, when men forget to mourn over its breaches, and show no concern for the reparation of them; or at the death of principal persons, which they lay not to heart; or at the great decay of religion in those that survive; or at the sins of professors, and their disregard to the word and ordinances: also when they forget to pray for her happiness in general; for the good of her members in particular; and especially for her ministers, that they may have assistance and success; and for a blessing on the word and ordinances, and for the conversion of sinners; and when they forget the worship of the Lord in it, and forsake the assembling of themselves together;

let my right hand forget [her cunning];
her skill in music, particularly in playing on the harp; see ( 1 Samuel 16:16 1 Samuel 16:18 ) ; the harp was held in the left hand, and struck with the right; and that more softly or hardly, as the note required, in which was the skill or cunning of using it. Or let this befall me, should I so far forget Jerusalem as to strike the harp to one of the songs of Zion in a strange land: or let it forget any of its works; let it be disabled from working at all; let it be dry and withered, which, Aben Ezra says, is the sense of the word according to some; and Schultens F4, from the use of it in Arabic, renders it, let it be "disjointed", or the nerve loosened; see ( Job 31:22 ) . Or the sense is, let everything that is as dear as my right hand he taken from me: or, as it may be rendered, "my right hand [is] forgotten" F5; that is, should I forget Jerusalem, it would; for that is as my right hand; so Arama. Some choose to translate the words thus, "may thou (O God) forget my right hand" F6; that is, to be at my right hand; to be a present help to me in time of need; to hold me by it, and to be the shade of it.


F4 Animadv. Philol. p. 181.
F5 (ynymy xkvt) "oblita est nostra dextra", Castalio.
F6 "Oblivisceris (O Domine) dexterae meae", Gejerus; so some in Michaelis.

Psalms 137:5 In-Context

3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.
7 Remember, LORD, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. “Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!”

Cross References 1

  • 1. Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 65:11; Isaiah 66:20
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