Listen to the class: 

Download the Notes: 07242013WhatDoesPsa137.9MeanDonRuhl

What Does Psalm 137.9 Mean? 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • July 24, In the year of our Lord, 2013


  1. Psalm 137.9

    9 Happy the one who takes and dashes
    Your little ones against the rock!
    (Psa 137.9)
  2. Remember Context 
    1. Immediate context
    2. Wider context
    3. Whole Bible context
      1. What is the nature of God?
        1. He is holy.
        2. He abhors sin.
      2. How does God deal with sin?
        1. He destroys it or forgives it.
        2. He seeks to turn the sinner from his sin.
          1. One way He does this is through warnings, and then carrying out those warnings.
          2. He warns that we shall reap as we have sown.
      3. What is the historical background?
        1. God authorized Babylon to punish Judah.
        2. However, Babylon had its own sins, and
          1. they went overboard in their treatment of the Jews.
          2. Therefore, they would reap as they had sown.
      4. We cannot interpret Psalm 137.9 to contradict the rest of the Bible.
  3. The Context of Psalm 137 
    1. Psalm 137.1 – Judah in Captivity

      1 By the rivers of Babylon,
      There we sat down, yea, we wept
      When we remembered Zion.
      (Psa 137.1)

      1. Granted, Judah had sinned.
      2. Nevertheless, they mourned for their home.
    2. Psalm 137.2–4 – Singing in Captivity

      2 We hung our harps
      Upon the willows in the midst of it.
      3 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!”
      4 How shall we sing the Lord’s song
      In a foreign land?
      (Psa 137.2–4)

      1. They could not sing in Babylon.
      2. If another nation destroyed us, and
        1. took us captive,
        2. could we sing an American patriotic song for our captors?
    3. Psalm 137.5, 6 – Remembering Jerusalem in Captivity

      5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
      Let my right hand forget its skill!
      6 If I do not remember you,
      Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—
      If I do not exalt Jerusalem
      Above my chief joy.
      (Psa 137.5, 6)

      1. This takes us back to verse 1,
      2. the idea of remembering Zion, which is Jerusalem.
        1. Just because they were in Babylon
        2. did not mean they should forget Jerusalem.
          1. The Lord gave Jerusalem to the Jews.
          2. It was part of His promise to the Fathers.
    4. Psalm 137.7 – Remembering Bystanders in Captivity

      7 Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom
      The day of Jerusalem,
      Who said, “Raze it, raze it,
      To its very foundation!”
      (Psa 137.7)

      1. Since Jerusalem was the chief joy of the psalmist,
      2. he remembered, and he wanted the Lord to remember,
        1. how Edom reacted to the Babylonian attack on Jerusalem.
        2. How do you think the psalmist wanted the Lord to remember Edom?
    5. Psalm 137.8Remembering Babylon in Captivity

      8 O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed,
      Happy the one who repays you as you have served us!
      (Psa 137.8)

      1. This verse set us up for the one in question.
      2. What does the first line prophesy?
        1. It prophesied the destruction of Babylon.
        2. Why would Babylon be destroyed?
          1. Babylon sinned against other nations.
          2. Therefore, he who destroyed Babylon would be happy.
            1. Does this mean the Lord approved of the “happiness” or
            2. did the psalmist state how Babylon’s destroyers would be?
      3. Who destroyed Babylon?
        1. The Medo-Persian Empire destroyed Babylon, and
        2. enjoyed doing it.
          1. According to the last line,
          2. this would happen because of what Babylon did to Judah.
  4. What Then Does Psalm 137.9 Mean?

    9 Happy the one who takes and dashes
    Your little ones against the rock!
    (Psa 137.9)

    1. See that this continues the thought of verse 8, but
      1. adds a specific part of Babylon’s destruction.
      2. Why do people object to verse 9, but not verse 8?
    2. The psalmist was in Babylon.
      1. Why was the psalmist in Babylon?
      2. Was he vacationing there?
        1. Babylon attacked Judah and
        2. brought the surviving Jews back to Babylon as captives.
    3. What would that be like?
      1. What would it be like to have a foreign nation attack?
      2. What would it be like to have that enemy take you out of your land?
    4. Compare the words of the prophets who spoke of Babylon,

      16 Their children also will be dashed to pieces before their eyes;
      Their houses will be plundered
      And their wives ravished.
      17 “Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them,
      Who will not regard silver;
      And as for gold, they will not delight in it.
      18 Also their bows will dash the young men to pieces,
      And they will have no pity on the fruit of the womb;
      Their eye will not spare children.
      19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,
      The beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride,
      Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
      (Isa 13.16–19)

      21 Prepare slaughter for his children
      Because of the iniquity of their fathers,
      Lest they rise up and possess the land,
      And fill the face of the world with cities.”
      (Isa 14.21)

      24 “And I will repay Babylon
      And all the inhabitants of Chaldea
      For all the evil they have done
      In Zion in your sight,” says the Lord.
      (Jer 51.24)

      1. Prevented a new generation from perpetuating Babylon’s sins.
      2. Babylon received what they had done.
        1. We reap what we sow.
        2. True of people and of nations.