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Looking through Psalm 137, Stanza 3: Worship that Trusts in God

This entry is part of 9 in the series

"God's People in Exile"

You can read more posts from the series by using the Table of Contents in the right sidebar.

It is time to complete our discussion of Psalm 137 by looking through stanza 3, verses 7–9:

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!

What can we do as we attempt to worship in a pagan land? We can do nothing else than to cry out to God and plead for him to act. We can do nothing else but trust in what God has promised he will do.

God has promised that he will judge sin, that he will bring vengeance upon those who battle against him and harm his people.

And God will keep his promise. In Revelation 18 we find the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to utterly destroy those who resist him. Listen to the language John uses to describe this ultimately victory:

21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more; 22 and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will be heard in you no more, and a craftsman of any craft will be found in you no more, and the sound of the mill will be heard in you no more, 23 and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery. 24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.”

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Jeremiah said that while God’s people cannot join in worship with the pagans, they can join with them in building houses and planting gardens and marrying and having children. But one day, when God brings his just judgment down upon the unbelieving people of this world, not only will their idolatrous worship come to an end, but even their craftsmanship and agriculture and marriages and commerce will be silenced.

And who is it who takes vengeance upon the enemies of God? Who is it who will repay Babylon with what they have done to us? Who is it who dashes Babylon’s children against the rock?

It is one sitting on a white horse “called Faithful and True; in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. . . . From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of Lords” (Rev 19:11-16).

So we cry out with the psalmist, with grief in our hearts and tears in our eyes, “Remember, O Lord!” And we cry out with the martyrs who even now surround the throne of God in heaven, “How long, O Lord, before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

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But God has promised that he will, and we can trust that he will keep his promise.

And God has promised that our time of exile will have an end. One day we will enter the holy city; we will be in God’s presence forever more, free from sin, free from hostility, free from idolatry, free to worship God in purity and holiness.

And God will keep his promise. In Revelation 21, John prophesies,

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And so we can cry out, with the psalmist, with faith in Christ who is our Redeemer,

Savior, since of Zion’s city
I through grace a member am,
let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in your name.
Fading are the world’s best pleasures,
all its boasted pomp and show;
solid joys and lasting treasures
none but Zion’s children know.

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Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Cutlure, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and three children.

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