What does psalm 137:1-6 describe?
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, O 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, O LORD, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
"Tear it down," they cried,
"tear it down to its foundations!"
8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is he who repays you
for what you have done to us-
9 he who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.
The Story of Psalm 137
The *Jews lived in Judah. The country of Babylon was 1000 kilometres to the east. In 586 B.C., the soldiers from Babylon destroyed the capital city of Judah, Jerusalem. B.C. means years Before Christ came to the earth. They took the people that lived there as *prisoners to Babylon. A prisoner is someone in a prison. Or it is someone in a place that they cannot go away from. In 536 B.C. many of the *prisoners and their sons and daughters came back to Jerusalem. In 516 B.C., Persia (now Iran) destroyed Babylon.
This means that we can say when the *psalmist wrote Psalm 137. The *psalmist is the person that wrote the psalm. If you look at verses 1-3 of the psalm, you will see that he (or she) was in Babylon. If you look at verse 8, you will see that Persia has not yet destroyed Babylon. This means that the *psalmist probably wrote the psalm between 536 and 516 B.C. We call the time that the *Jews were *prisoners in Babylon "the *exile". There were two great rivers in Babylon, the Tigris and the Euphrates. There were also small rivers. But the people that lived in Babylon made them. They went between the Tigris River and the Euphrates River. We call them canals. By all these rivers and canals, there were trees. Today we would call them poplar or willow trees. The *Jews in the *exile met by these rivers. They probably talked about Jerusalem and Zion. Zion was one of the hills that they had built the city of Jerusalem on. The *psalmist remembered this when he went home. He also remembered that they could not sing songs about the *LORD in Babylon. Now he was home again. And he hoped that somebody would destroy Babylon as Babylon had destroyed Jerusalem.
Our job is to keep singing the songs of our God by the rivers of babylon until all who have ears to hear can listen. The world ccan't help but notice those accosted by joy!