Psalms 137:1-6

1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars we hung our harps,
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.

Psalms 137:1-6 Meaning and Commentary


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.

Cross References 13

  • 1. Ezekiel 1:1,3; Ezekiel 3:15; Ezekiel 10:15
  • 2. Nehemiah 1:4
  • 3. Isaiah 3:26; Lamentations 1:4
  • 4. S Leviticus 23:40
  • 5. Job 30:31; Isaiah 24:8; Ezekiel 26:13; Amos 6:5
  • 6. Psalms 79:1-4; Lamentations 1:5
  • 7. S Job 30:9; Psalms 80:6
  • 8. Ezekiel 16:57; Ezekiel 22:4; Ezekiel 34:29
  • 9. S Nehemiah 12:46
  • 10. Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 65:11; Isaiah 66:20
  • 11. S Psalms 22:15; Ezekiel 3:26
  • 12. Nehemiah 2:3
  • 13. S Deuteronomy 4:29; Jeremiah 51:50; Ezekiel 6:9
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