Saturday, November 24, 2012

When we suffer and weep

Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we thought of Jerusalem. We put away our harps, hanging them on the branches of the poplar trees. For our captors demanded a song from us. Our tormentors insisted on a joyful hymn: “Sing us one of those songs of Jerusalem!” But how can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a pagan land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget how to play the harp. May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I fail to remember you, if I don’t make Jerusalem my greatest joy. O Lord, remember what the Edomites did on the day the armies of Babylon captured Jerusalem. “Destroy it!” they yelled. “Level it to the ground!!” O Babylon, you will be destroyed. Happy is the one who pays you back for what you have done to us. Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashed them against the rocks! Psalm 137 NLT

This psalm ends with a very violent verse that turns many of believers’ stomach. Would God really want to kill innocent children? 

Certainly, this psalm comes from a place of pain. The Israelites are in exile which to them means being totally separated from God. God is only found in Jerusalem. They are asked to sing their songs of praise but they cannot in this foreign land. They want their captors to suffer.

But should they want innocent children to suffer as well?

These days a lot of Americans are getting very verbal about supporting Israel’s agenda. But what about all the innocent people -- babies included -- that are suffering in Gaza? Do we want the innocent to suffer just because think our political ideals are the same as our theological ones? 

God, when we suffer and weep, help us to keep from asking that others suffer as well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Copyright Amelia G. Sims 2012

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