Psalm 137

  • Read Psalm 137 here.
  • If you missed Sunday’s sermon (20 July) you can listen to it here.

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A prominent theme of this psalm is “remembering”. Most of us will quickly think of the Lord’s Supper when we connect this theme with the church. What else should the church remember, and how else do we remind ourselves?

After living several years in Memphis and having visited the National Civil Rights Museum there I naturally think of US slavery when I try to come up to a modern equivalent of the Jews in exile. But so much has changed in the US since the 1960’s I’m not sure that’s the best analogy. I also think of Zimbabwe, perhaps because they play cricket and were part of the British Commonwealth, and the oppression of white farmers and other members of the opposition party. Would Psalm 137 have any special meaning to people in these situations and how would it benefit them?

In light of the sermon mentioning Eph. 4:26 “In your anger do not sin”, Do you have any tips for how to practice this… besides counting to 10?

Songs from the Psalm

At first glance, this Psalm is a stumper. However, vv. 3-4 seem to suggest almost any “heaven” song that orients the believer toward a new and better “land”. As foreigners and strangers on earth (Heb11:13) we should long for heaven!

  • There Is a Habitation (chorus: O Zion, Zion!) — memorable for most all of us
  • Sing To Me of Heaven
  • Heaven is a Wonderful Place
  • Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus (When We All Get To Heaven) (note st. 2 that mentions the “pilgrim pathway,” as in being in a “foreign land)
  • Children of the Heav’nly King (GSII, GSR … other song books remove some of rich lyrics)
  • Brief Life Is Here Our Portion (GSR … I think I’ve sung that maybe once, but it’s appropriate)

The longing for Jerusalem (v. 6) isn’t something we see often in songs of the last couple of centuries, at least, but figuratively, we could sing:

  • Jerusalem the Golden (GSII)
  • Jerusalem, My Happy Home (GSII)

and . . .

  • Tempted and Tried (might be stretched to refer to the feeling/prayer that my “enemies” are somehow seeming to be victorious here, God, so please do something about this)

Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section.

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6 comments

  1. Lisa Lee

    With the mention of Eph. 4:26 “In your anger do not sin”, some tips that I have learned are to put yourself in the other persons shoes and see how the would feel if we sinned against them when we are angry. From now on when I get angry this phrase will come to my mind.

  2. Jo H

    When I read Lisa’s response it reminded me that there was a time when I had that tip a bit twisted…I put MY shoe ON the other person…or I should say my steel toed combat boot to the other persons shin, and let them “feel” how angry I was. Good thing I don’t do that any more. My current tip for not sinning in anger is to try to stay quiet…since I seem to have replaced my boots for a mouth- which can hurt just as much. I’m still working on this.
    Psalm 137 was not one that I’ve really looked at closely before. I tend to cling to familiar verses in times of distress, but I could see where some might find P137 beneficial for them.
    Are you only looking for songs about the Psalms from CofC song books? There are alot of songs out there about anger and woe that might apply….

  3. Mark Wagner

    When I think of anger, I think of an emotion that is like a wild, untamed beast. Anger can be controlled, but only with great difficulty, so we should try to minimize the times we’re in an angry state. Anger is not unlike James’ description of the tongue in James 3:

    Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.

    I wonder if James didn’t have the emotion of anger on his mind when he wrote the above description of the tongue. Try substituting the word “Anger” for the words “the tongue” in the verses. It sort of fits as a description of anger.

    James also says:
    My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

    I think being quick to listen and slow to speak helps us put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and can help to minimize the times we find ourselves in an angry state.

  4. ozziepete

    Jo, I guess I’m looking for songs that are intended to be Christian. If we wouldn’t sing them in church we’d at least listen to them on a Christian radio station. So an angry Marilyn Manson song wouldn’t count. However, if a particular passage makes you think of another particular song, feel free to share it.

  5. Jo H

    LOL -M.M. is too scary for even me!
    From a different view, could P137(v5,6) be considered a patriotic song for the Isrealites? Like the “Star Spangled Banner” (not just the first verse) or other anthems written during times of war or conflict. Just a thought after reading it again.

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