1 By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down, yea, we wept
When we remembered Zion.
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?
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.
7 Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom
The day of Jerusalem,
Who said, “Raze it, raze it,
To its very foundation!”
8 O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed,
Happy the one who repays you as you have served us!
9 Happy the one who takes and dashes
Your little ones against the rock!
The psalmist writes from the captivity in Babylon and presents a mournful song about the depression of captivity. He speaks of sitting down and crying, hanging up their harps in the willows. They thought they could not not sing of God in captivity. However, he then discusses the need to praise God in spite of their problems. He even asks God to judge Him if he does not praise God.
The psalmist then declares an end to Babylon and Edom, who razed Jerusalem. He declares the joy of revenge on these nations. Even though we do not live in a nation where nationalistic religion causes armies to collide, we do face conflict of a spiritual nature. When we feel as though our captivity is oppressive and we have lost our will to praise, it is imperative to remember the need to praise in spite of our circumstances. When you are oppressed by a group or an individual, praise the Lord anyway, and trust that He will turn the situation around in the right time. God is in control. How can you sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? By knowing that He is awesome and trusting Him in spite of the situation! God is your Savior!