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Psalm 137:1-9

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our lyres. For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, 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! Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy! Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!” 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 Psalm is sudden, coming after 15 hymns filled with the joy of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and two Psalms of praise and thanksgiving. It is a lament of loss and grief, crowned with a plea for revenge and restitution. What can I learn from this?

I lead a relatively quiet, retired middle class life with a very dear wife and friend. My neighbors would probably would nominate us for the Good Neighbor Seal of Approval, at least those who know us. Therein lies the problem. I have no waters of Babylon, no foreign land in my life. Oh, yes we have had a prison ministry for 17 years, but it is out of our comfort. Yes, I am a participant in a men’s ministry, the Fellowship of Ailbe, but other than a slight loss of sleep in a late night prayer meeting, no great loss. Yes we are members of a local Protestant evangelical church; it is so good to assemble on the LORD’s Day with a group of likeminded saints. Again, comfort reigns. No street corner preaching here.

In short, I read this precious Psalm and wonder, “Where’s my witness? Where is the willow to hang my lyre as I weep? Family dinners are don’t rock the boat affairs as I avoid any mention of my LORD and Savior. I have a friend who drags a very large cross around the streets of Burlington and preaching the Gospel of Salvation while I sit comfortably curled up reading a treatise on how to pray the Psalms. Do I have my priorities out of order?


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Morning Psalm 50, Noon Psalm 119:73-80, Evening Psalm 15.If you follow this regimen, you will pray through the Psalms every 47 days or just under 8 times per year.

An alternate Reading Plan is based on 7 chapters/day from 7 sections of the Scriptures. My groupings are: Genesis-Joshua, Judges to Esther, Job to Song of Solomon, Psalms breaking 119 into convenient sets, Isaiah to Malachi, Matthew to Acts, Romans to Revelation.

Or set your own reading schedule up in convenient groupings as fits your study habits. But a daily time in the Word of the LORD is an absolute.


John Nunnikhoven

John Nunnikhoven is a member of The Fellowship of Ailbe and has begun working toward what, Lord willing, will become a re-awakening of the Church as a body directed into living the Kingdom in the here and now as it awaits the yet to come.
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