Psalms 137 needs to be banished from the bible. It has become a disgrace because it appears to advocate not merely the death of ones enemy, but the delightful murder of the babies of ones enemy in the most violent way: dashing them against rocks. It is the favorite passage used by atheists to discredit and malign the loving nature of God and the inspiration of the scriptures. How can those who hold to the pro-life position as well as Christs teaching on turning the other cheek accept this as being in harmony with the rest of scripture?
The only reason it has remained in the scriptures is because the Jewish tradition handed it down as a part of their book of Psalms.
The Psalms are not a book at all. The Psalms are a compilation of song lyrics written over the course of centuries. It is treated as a book because the Jews treated it that way. But the Jews have a late history of missing God and manipulating His Word. If that seems implausible, consider that even the prophet Jeremiah spoke of the “lying pen of the scribes”. Jesus confessed there were many Jewish “commandments taught by men.”
This particular Psalm has no author attribution and is quoted no where else in the bible. Just because a lyric is written by an ancient Jew does not make it worthy to be in the bible. Of all the Psalms this one seems the least worthy. It sullies the prophetic and poetic beauty of an otherwise excellent collection.
One might say Psalm 137 could have made the cut well enough without the last two verses which are about as lovely as street graffiti painted in blood. That aside, the very fact that it was written about the experience of Babylonian captivity puts its authorship 380+ years after the death of psalmists David, Asaph and the Sons of Korah. There are other Jewish writings from this late exile period which are not accepted into the biblical canon. Among them are Susanna as well as Bel and the Dragon. These were actually extended chapters to the Book of Daniel, but were extracted because they were discovered to be late additions not part of the original Daniel in Hebrew.
Yet the self identifying timeframe tells us that Psalms 137 was added to Psalms much later than the Davidic reign. David never laid eyes on this song. One wonders after having suffered the loss of children and at that even an infant, would David have approved such a song to be sung in the temple worship?
“happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us, he who dashes your infants against the rocks.”
This song belongs in the greatest hits of the United Kingdom of Israel no more than a song by Slayer belongs in a Gaither collection. Why don’t we fix this and simply admit it is an uninspired error that should not have made the cut in Jewish or Christian canon?
The recent publications of bibles seem to have no problem casting footnoted textual shade on John 8 and Mark 16 and neither does any harm to the narrative or nature of God. Yet the passages that seem to do the most violence to the narrative of the grace and goodness of God are guarded like Solomons vaults. How has textual criticism robbed us of the forgiveness and divine empowerment of Christ as they are found in John 8 and Mark 16, and yet they allow passages that impose ugly and oppressive human tendencies to go unquestioned?
This article is a great example of how Psalms 137 is defended and glossed. [https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/september-web-only/protest-song-for-syrian-refugeesand-suburban-soccer-moms.html]
After trainloads of sentimental antecdotes, it finally asserts that we are being taught by Psalms 137 that all of us are potentially a victim and potentially a perpetrator. Really? And I suppose a German could assert that Mein Kamph has valuable lessons on how to be a humanitarian, if you just read it in the right perspective. All we have to do to excuse atrocity laden scripture is simple say, “Thats Gods way of telling us what He doesn’t want us to do.” Well if that’s the case with Psalms 137, God seems to have gone way over many peoples heads. Because it looks on its face like nothing more than singing out bitterness and hate for the people who God sent to judge them. How’s that for a second layer of irony? Babylon was ordained by God according to the prophets. Furthermore the people were commanded to pray for the peace and prosperity of their captors for the 70 years they were there because they were there by Gods command.
“And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.” Jer. 29:7
Yet we have Psalm 137 doing the very opposite. Rather than confessing they were getting what they deserved and praying for the land where they lived, the author wallows in self pity and victimhood while wishing the worst kind of pain on their captors new born babies. The disagreement between Jeremiah 29:7 and Psalms 137 amounts to confusion. Both cannot be inspired scripture or else God becomes the author of confusion.
Psalms 137 stands disqualified in my estimation, but I hope that others with actual qualifications will someday take up these reasons and dash this lyric against the rocks for the good of us all.