Read: Psalm 137
How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? (v. 4 NRSV)
The heading in my Bible for Psalm 137 says, “Lament over the Destruction of Jerusalem,” but I don’t agree that it’s a psalm of lament. It’s more a cry of hopelessness. The psalms of lament end with a turn towards hope. Psalm 137 ends with some of the most desperate, vengeful, and problematic words in the Bible: “Blessed shall he be who takes your littles ones and dashes them against the rock!” (v. 9). There is no turn towards hope, just a downward spiral of depression and aggression. Hopelessness is a path that leads to death. (I shouldn’t be too hard on this psalm: it inspired one of my favorite songs, “On the Willows,” from Godspell. Look it up if you are not familiar with it.)
It’s not good to lose hope. Hopelessness is a path that leads to death. The key to singing the Lord’s song in a strange land is hope. Hope allows you to keep singing because you know that ultimately this world as you know it is not your home. Hope allows you to see yourself as an alien and exile (terms found in 1 Peter 2:11); not a prisoner stuck without options, but someone passing through. Hope allows you to look upon those around you—even those who may oppress you—with empathy and compassion instead of seething anger and a deep desire for revenge. Hopelessness is a path that leads to death. Hope leads to life. —Jeff Munroe
As you pray, ask God to lead you to life.
About the Author
Jeff Munroe is the editor of the Reformed Journal and, in addition to being the author of the best-selling book Reading Buechner: Exploring the Work of a Master Memoirist, Novelist, Theologian, and Preacher, is also a poet, blogger, and essayist. His work has appeared in Christianity Today, The Christian Century, US Catholic, and The Reformed Journal.