By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we re-membered Zion.
The words of this psalm startle us; they throb with anger and grief.
God’s people have been taken captive and deported far away from home. And now their captors want them to sing? “Yes, we’ll sing you a song. Listen to this one!” And they sing a psalm that no one would want to hear.
The captives’ cry for justice is troubling—surely innocent children should not have to pay with their lives for what a king and an army have done!
Perhaps we are troubled by this psalm because it is so honest. There are times we may feel just as angry and eager for vengeance and justice. Perhaps voicing such thoughts and wishes in honest prayer is just what God wants us to do. Perhaps, then, God can remind us that we should love our enemies and pray for those who hate us. Perhaps praying such a prayer helps us turn our grief over to God.
Such a prayer reminds us that it is God to whom we must turn in such a season; it is God who ultimately decides who is punished and how. It is God whose will is done, “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Psalm 137 reminds us that God wants us to bring our every thought to him in prayer. Have you shared even your most vengeful thoughts with God?
O God, sometimes our grief and anger rage out of control. Remind us that you want to hear all our prayers—even the ugly ones. Your will be done. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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