Even with the hopeful conclusion of Job’s story to encourage those who reflected upon it while in captivity, there was a whole lot of lamenting among God’s people in Babylon, and for good reason. We may have been taunted at a sports event by the opposing team but God’s people were being more than taunted; their lives were radically turned upside-down by their oppressors. The Israelites shed tears of pain, hurt, frustration, and great loss. Some of them wept along a river where their tormentors demanded songs of joy. In the later years of his short life Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley sang about what many of the Jewish captives experienced. The song By the Rivers of Babylon describes weeping along a river as those in exile remembered their dearly loved Zion.
Oppression is appalling; it has to be in order to consider the last verses of Psalm 137: O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us! Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock! This imagery is too much for me to take in. I almost did not include this “blessing” in the book, but maybe we need to be reminded of the awful consequences of evil. People can really hurt other people. Sometimes it’s us being hurt, or those we love, or the weak who cannot defend themselves. And the damage done can cause us to want to take matters into our own hands. God, help us to hate sin of all kinds and yet love our enemies. This is not an easy prayer but a needed one. We are blessed, God, to have You as our righteous Judge and Defender. Vengeance is not ours, it is Yours. Amen.