Let’s read Psalm 137:7-9, “Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof. O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” Before we tackle this difficult passage, we must consider the background in which it was written. The unknown Jewish author of this Psalm speaks of being “By the rivers of Babylon” in verse 1, for this was written after the Babylonians had invaded Jerusalem and taken those who survived captive to Babylon. Sorrow filled his heart as he remembered the total destruction of Jerusalem by the Edomites and the Babylonians. And his grief was especially great when he recalled their savage treatment of Israel’s little children. They had literally crushed these little ones against rocks and now the Psalmist prays that Israel’s enemies would experience the same thing. Was he right in praying as he did? May the Spirit of God guide us as we seek to answer this all-important question.

In verse 8 he had said, “O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.” How did the Psalmist know that Babylon was “to be destroyed?” I believe he knew that the prophet Jeremiah had predicted God’s judgment upon Babylon. In Jeremiah 51-52 God foretold the destruction of Babylon for their treatment of His people. Listen to these solemn words in Jeremiah 51:24, “And I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah adds this in 51:35, “The violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon, shall the inhabitant of Zion say.” Jeremiah knew that there would be inhabitants of Jerusalem calling for Babylon to experience the same savage treatment that they had received. In Psalm 137:9 the Psalmist is doing just that; he is calling upon God to do to Babylon what they had done to those in Jerusalem. And if he was aware of Jeremiah 51:24 he knew he was praying according to God’s will, for God had said He would “render unto Babylonall their evil that they have done in Zion.” The prophet Isaiah also predicted Babylon’s destruction and in Isaiah 13:16 he spoke in very specific terms, “Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes…” Thus it seems crystal-clear that the Psalmist had every right to pray as he did, for God had already announced Babylon’s doom and that they would indeed “reap what they had sown.”

This kind of prayer is foreign to believers today, for we are living in the Day of Grace and we are told, in Matthew 5:44Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.” But for believers in the dispensation of Law, it was proper to pray for God to bring judgment upon their enemies. David prayed for this very thing in Psalms 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 109, and 139. Asaph joined him in praying for Israel’s enemies to be destroyed in Psalm 79. All was in keeping with the time in which they lived, when God was displaying His holiness by punishing evildoers according to their sin. The Law declared in Exodus 21:24-25, “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” According to God’s righteousness, THE PENALTY WAS TO SUIT THE CRIME!

Again, this is foreign to us today, for we are called upon to show God’s love and grace to sinners. But let’s never forget that GOD HATES SIN and He has every right to judge it as He sees fit. In fact, He hates sin so much He had to punish His own Son so that sinners could be saved. Soon the Day of Grace will end and judgment will strike this godless and Christ-rejecting world. Acts 17:31 declares “He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained.” Let us faithfully reach out to sinners and plead with them to turn to Christ for salvation before it’s forever too late. He will either be their SAVIOR NOW or their JUDGE THEN.  (181.8)  (DO)