Bitter Judgment

The discipline of the Lord is never pleasant.

Daniel: Introduction (7)

Introduction

For the vast majority of those taken away captive to Babylon, the experience must have been deeply affecting. Imagine being torn from your home, and watching it go up in flames as you are marched off to a distant land. All your possessions stolen. Your relationships destroyed, and your friends and family dispersed. Your traditions put on hold. All your neighbors laughing you to scorn. Live here. Do this. Remember you’re a slave. And while you’re at it, sing us a praise song or two, would you? Yeah, not likely.

Read Jeremiah 25.8-11.

Read Psalm 137.
By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down, yea, we wept
When we remembered Zion.
We hung our harps
Upon the willows in the midst of it.
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!”
How shall we sing the LORD’s song
In a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill!
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.
Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom
The day of Jerusalem,
Who said, “Raze it, raze it,
To its very foundation!”
O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed,
Happy the one who repays you as you have served us!
Happy the one who takes and dashes
Your little ones against the rock!

Think it Through
1.  Psalm 137 is an imprecatory psalm. That is, the psalmist pleads with God to bring harm and destruction to the enemies of His people. This psalm is particularly brutal in its imprecations. Imprecatory psalms can be difficult to understand, much less to embrace for use in our edification or prayers. How many different emotions can you identify in this psalm? How would you describe the state of mind and soul of the anonymous writer? Is God OK with that? Meditate on Matthew 5.43-45. Should we come to God in prayer when we feel this way? With what in mind? Explain.

2.  Do you suppose Daniel was aware that many of his fellow captives felt like this? Could knowing this have affected his willingness to serve King Nebuchadnezzar (God’s “servant” – Jer. 25.9)? Explain. Meditate on Ephesians 6.10-20. Should we pray imprecatory prayers against our great enemy? How might Psalm 137 guide you in this?

Meditate
“And in this way also the just give up to destruction all their enemies, which are their vices, so that they do not spare even the children, that is, the early beginnings and promptings of evil. In this sense also we understand the language of Psalm 137…” Origen (185-254 AD)

Let those be put to shame and brought to dishonor
Who seek after my life;
Let those be turned back and brought to confusion
Who plot my hurt.
Let them be like chaff before the wind,
And let the angel of the LORD chase them.
Let their way be dark and slippery,
And let the angel of the LORD pursue them. Psalm 35.4-6

Lord, today I am involved in a relentless spiritual warfare. I need Your help, so that I may serve You well. I pray against the enemies of my soul, that…

Pray
Use Psalm 137 to pray for oppressed Christians everywhere. Put yourself in their place, and seek the grace of God to help them love their enemies, despite their sorrow, anger, shame, and fear. Pray also against the enemies of your soul, that God may bind and destroy them, so that you may be free of all their temptations and distractions.

Psalm 137 (The Gift of Love: Though I May Speak)
We sit beside the waters deep, in broken pride, to mourn and weep
for Zion's woes and all our sin: How great our foes, without, within!

No songs have we of joy to sing. Our enemy, to taunt and sting,

bids us rejoice, as they oppress: We have no voice to praise or bless.

How can we sing, exalt Your Name, or praises bring amid our shame?
If we forget Your Church’s fame, O Lord, then let our hands grow lame.

If ever praise forsake my tongue, if Zion’s ways no more be sung,
if greater joy by me be found, my lips destroy, no more to sound.

Remember, Lord Your boasting foes, who hate Your Word and visit woes
n your dear sheep that they may die: Cause them to weep and mourn and sigh.

How blest are You, our sovereign Lord, Who judgment true shall soon accord
to all who seek Your sheep to kill. Preserve the meek who serve You still.

T. M Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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