Puzzling passages

The cursing psalms

The cursing psalms
Alan Hill
Alan Hill Pastor of Lausanne Free Church, Switzerland.
25 July, 2023 13 min read

We all love reading the Psalms, and we should all love singing the psalms or hymns based upon them. They are so full of comfort and help; so full of real life. But every now and then we read some verses that shock and surprise us. Consider Psalm 137. It begins as a sad lament, sung by God’s people in exile:

By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down, yea, we wept
When we remembered Zion.
We hung our harps  upon the willows in the midst of it.
For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song,
And those who plundered us
requested mirth,
Saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’
How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?’

We feel and associate with their pain! But then we come to the last two verses:

O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed,
Happy the one who repays you
as you have served us!
Happy the one who takes and dashes
Your little ones against the rock!

At first glance these words are shocking – the opposite of Christian love! They are without doubt difficult to understand. It is too easy to rush past these words and move onto something more comforting.

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