This Psalm contains another curse- it gets ugly at the end. But in this one, the reason is included. It reminded me of times when it seems like nothing will ever go right again. Times when someone has done something that's devastating. I feel crushed like there's no hope. But there's always hope, God is bigger than all our troubles.
This Psalm was written after Israel was divided into two kingdoms. The Southern Kingdom, Judah, was taken captive by Babylon and the temple destroyed. It's very sad.
1 By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down, yea, we wept
When we remembered Zion.
2 We hung our harps
Upon the willows in the midst of it.
3 For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song,
And those who plundered us requested mirth,
Saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
You can feel their sorrow, they lost Jerusalem, and the Temple.
4 How shall we sing the Lord's song
In a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill!
6 If I do not remember you,
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth —
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.
Then they cry out to the Lord asking for vengeance. The interesting part about this is that Edomites were the descendants of Esau. Esau and Jacob were twins carried by Rebekah, they fought with each other during her pregnancy.
22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, "If all is well, why am I like this?" So she went to inquire of the Lord.
23 And the Lord said to her:
"Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger."
Esau was born first. After they were born and grew up- they fought over who would gain their Father's (Isaac) birthright. Jacob tricked Esau and waited for him to get hungry. Then he offered him some stew and Esau gave Jacob his birthright (for food). Next Jacob put on firs to trick Isaac into thinking he was Esau (the hairy guy). He received Isaac's blessing. Then Jacob went on to wrestle with God and received God's blessing to become Israel the Father of the nation. So this is a repeat of history, only it's a fight between Esau and Jacob's descendants. History still repeats itself, even today.
7 Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom
The day of Jerusalem,
Who said, "Raze it, raze it,
To its very foundation!"
Here's the ugly part, the curse. This is saying to kill all of Babylon's children by dashing them against rocks. This type of hatred destroys souls and others. There's a time to be angry, to cry and mourn, then a time to move on.
8 O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed,
Happy the one who repays you as you have served us!
9 Happy the one who takes and dashes
Your little ones against the rock!
It's so tempting to let anger get out of control. But it's just not worth it. Later Babylon was conquered by Persia, the Jews were set free and actually told to rebuild the Temple in Judah. God used the prophet Jeremiah to help out.
Ezra 1:2-4Amazing grace. Amazing God!
2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia:
All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. 3 Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. 4 And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.
I really don't know if the curse had an impact on the exile. In the context of the whole Bible, God always wanted to be trusted and worshiped over all others. Taking vengeance, which is different from self-defense or protecting the innocent, is against God's law (Deuteronomy 32:35). This is very serious to God. Jesus tells us to do good to those who persecute us because it will heap burning coals on their heads : ) It also protects our souls, our hearts. Ok so I confess, the part about burning coals is encouraging to me. It's not easy at all to do this.
Jesus said it this way,
19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 20 Therefore
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.