It’s easy to imagine the shock Judah must have felt at the fall of Jerusalem to gentiles, and even worse, the destruction of the Temple.
The people knew why it had all happened. They were left to grieve and endure the taunts of their conquerors and their archenemies, the Edomites.
Psalm 137 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 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?
5If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget how to play the harp.
6 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.
7 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 smashes them against the rocks!
We don’t really know when three of these Psalms (74, 79, 94) were written. Psalm 74, for example, could have been written by Asaph in his grief afterShishak’s invasion of Israel after the death of King Solomon. Even if it were, it would have been something the Israelites returned to in their grief over a more complete destruction.