It might just be the most shocking verse in the Bible. It is certainly one people don’t embroider on a throw pillow or sticker on the wall.
How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones Against the rock.
It’s violent overtone toward children. A prayer to God to harm others. It’s gleeful delight in the worse happening to an enemy. Should such a bitter outburst belong in the Bible?
To understand its place and inclusion, we need to examine the whole psalm. The 137th Psalm is the song of a people forced into captivity. Those ripped from their homes. Poets forced to sing songs about a homeland that now lies in ruins. To their captors they are just entertainment, but to the captives they are just pain.
That is why they are lashing out. How can such a wicked people win? How can evil dominate? “God” they cry, “do something!”
Pain doesn’t talk with reason. Agony does not come as a measure response. Hurting people lash out. They express the hideousness of violence. Unless we feel the depths of the pain, we can’t understand the depths of God forgiveness or the terrible consequences of sin.
You see that’s why the people of God were in this place. Their sin had led God to punish. That punishment was harsh. And so also would it be to those that would punished for their actions on the people of God.
Hell is described as a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. Where pain and suffering overcome all other feelings. When we read lines like Psalm 137:9, we catch a tiny sliver of the retribution awaiting those separated from God. Yet it also shows us how God listens and cares even when we lash out in pain. When we hurt, he hears. His love tempers our pain.
True loss and pain are understood by God. The cry for justice reaches his ears, but so do the cries for mercy. This passage only shows us one side of the coin. His mercy is great but so will be punishment for those outside of it.