Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock! Psalm 137:9 NRSV
This is one of the most disturbing images and instructions in the Bible. This verse has turned many away from Christianity if not religion. What is going on here? Why is this verse even in the psalms?
We must read the whole of Psalm 137 to really understand it. In this psalm, we hear a lament of the Israelites who have been forcably removed from their home in Israel and taken to exile in Babylon. They are beyond dispondent. I have said this before but the Israelites saw the Temple in Jerusalem as the place where God dwelt. God was always attached to place. Now they see themselves not only detached from home but detached from God. Still, they are praying our their heartache to God.
And that is what we must understand.
This is a hearfelt prayer to God - full of anguish, disgust and anger.
When you are really heartsick, your emotions are what guide your prayers to God.
Should we not be able to be completely honest with God even when we are violently angry? Is it not better to express our feelings in angry words rather than act them out? How much to you think the psalmist really wanted to kill innocent babies? Maybe the psalmist felt that way at that time and needed to express that feeling to God. But do you think they continued to feel that way?
Is it not good to hear that others got so angry when they were upset, to hear those words of violence and know that it is okay to completely let go with God? Anger is a powerful emotion. Better to express it in an angry prayer to God than in carrying out such atrocities.
God, we have a difficult time with this passage of scripture. Help us to talk to you - when we are angry, happy, sad or remorseful - and to really share with you what we are feeling rather than to act on our feelings without thinking. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims