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Psalms 137:1 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept, When we remembered Zion.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yes, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— By the rivers of Babylon, there, we sat down, yea we wept—when we remembered Zion:
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— By rivers of Babylon—There we did sit, Yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Upon the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept: when we remembered Sion:
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— By the riuers of Babylon, there wee sate downe, yea we wept: when we remembred Zion.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— [[For David, [a Psalm] of Jeremiah{gr.Jeremias}.]] By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat; and wept when we remembered Zion{gr.Sion}.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— By the rivers of Bavel, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Tziyyon.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
By x5921
(5921) Complement
Properly the same as H5920 used as a preposition (in the singular or plural, often with prefix, or as conjugation with a particle following); above, over, upon, or against (yet always in this last relation with a downward aspect) in a great variety of applications.
the rivers 5104
{5104} Prime
From H5102; a stream (including the sea; especially the Nile, Euphrates, etc.); figuratively, prosperity.
of Bvel בָּבֶל, 894
{0894} Prime
From H1101; confusion; Babel (that is, Babylon), including Babylonia and the Babylonian empire.
there x8033
(8033) Complement
A primitive particle (rather from the relative H0834); there (transfered to time) then; often thither, or thence.
we sat down, 3427
{3427} Prime
A primitive root; properly to sit down (specifically as judge, in ambush, in quiet); by implication to dwell, to remain; causatively to settle, to marry.
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
yea, x1571
(1571) Complement
By contraction from an unused root meaning to gather; properly assemblage; used only adverbially also, even, yea, though; often repeated as correlation both... and.
we wept, 1058
{1058} Prime
A primitive root; to weep; generally to bemoan.
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
when we remembered 2142
{2142} Prime
A primitive root; properly to mark (so as to be recognized), that is, to remember; by implication to mention; also (as denominative from H2145) to be male.
<8800> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Infinitive (See H8812)
Count - 4888
(0853) Complement
Apparently contracted from H0226 in the demonstrative sense of entity; properly self (but generally used to point out more definitely the object of a verb or preposition, even or namely).
Xiyyn צִיּוֹן. 6726
{6726} Prime
The same (regular) as H6725; Tsijon (as a permanent capital), a mountain of Jerusalem.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Psalms 137:1

_ _ Psalms 137:1-9. This Psalm records the mourning of the captive Israelites, and a prayer and prediction respecting the destruction of their enemies.

_ _ rivers of Babylon — the name of the city used for the whole country.

_ _ remembered Zion — or, Jerusalem, as in Psalms 132:13.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Psalms 137:1-6

_ _ We have here the daughter of Zion covered with a cloud, and dwelling with the daughter of Babylon; the people of God in tears, but sowing in tears. Observe,

_ _ I. The mournful posture they were in as to their affairs and as to their spirits. 1. They were posted by the rivers of Babylon, in a strange land, a great way from their own country, whence they were brought as prisoners of war. The land of Babylon was now a house of bondage to that people, as Egypt had been in their beginning. Their conquerors quartered them by the rivers, with design to employ them there, and keep them to work in their galleys; or perhaps they chose it as the most melancholy place, and therefore most suitable to their sorrowful spirits. If they must build houses there (Jeremiah 29:5), it shall not be in the cities, the places of concourse, but by the rivers, the places of solitude, where they might mingle their tears with the streams. We find some of them by the river Chebar (Ezekiel 1:3), others by the river Ulai, Daniel 8:2. 2. There they sat down to indulge their grief by poring on their miseries. Jeremiah had taught them under this yoke to sit alone, and keep silence, and put their mouths in the dust, Lamentations 3:28, Lamentations 3:29. “We sat down, as those that expected to stay, and were content, since it was the will of God that it must be so.” 3. Thoughts of Zion drew tears from their eyes; and it was not a sudden passion of weeping, such as we are sometimes put into by a trouble that surprises us, but they were deliberate tears (we sat down and wept), tears with consideration — we wept when we remembered Zion, the holy hill on which the temple was built. Their affection to God's house swallowed up their concern for their own houses. They remembered Zion's former glory and the satisfaction they had had in Zion's courts, Lamentations 1:7. Jerusalem remembered, in the days of her misery, all her pleasant things which she had in the days of old, Psalms 42:4. They remembered Zion's present desolations, and favoured the dust thereof, which was a good sign that the time for God to favour it was not far off, Psalms 102:13, Psalms 102:14. 4. They laid by their instruments of music (Psalms 137:2): We hung our harps upon the willows. (1.) The harps they used for their own diversion and entertainment. These they laid aside, both because it was their judgment that they ought not to use them now that God called to weeping and mourning (Isaiah 22:12), and their spirits were so sad that they had no hearts to use them; they brought their harps with them, designing perhaps to use them for the alleviating of their grief, but it proved so great that it would not admit the experiment. Music makes some people melancholy. As vinegar upon nitre, so is he that sings songs to a heavy heart. (2.) The harps they used in God's worship, the Levites' harps. These they did not throw away, hoping they might yet again have occasion to use them, but they laid them aside because they had no present use for them; God had cut them out other work by turning their feasting into mourning and their songs into lamentations, Amos 8:10. Every thing is beautiful in its season. They did not hide their harps in the bushes, or the hollows of the rocks; but hung them up in view, that the sight of them might affect them with this deplorable change. Yet perhaps they were faulty in doing this; for praising God is never out of season; it is his will that we should in every thing give thanks, Isaiah 24:15, Isaiah 24:16.

_ _ II. The abuses which their enemies put upon them when they were in this melancholy condition, Psalms 137:3. They had carried them away captive from their own land and then wasted them in the land of their captivity, took what little they had from them. But this was not enough; to complete their woes they insulted over them: They required of us mirth and a song. Now, 1. This was very barbarous and inhuman; even an enemy, in misery, is to be pitied and not trampled upon. It argues a base and sordid spirit to upbraid those that are in distress either with their former joys or with their present griefs, or to challenge those to be merry who, we know, are out of tune for it. This is adding affliction to the afflicted. 2. It was very profane and impious. No songs would serve them but the songs of Zion, with which God had been honoured; so that in this demand they reflected upon God himself as Belshazzar, when he drank wine in temple-bowls. Their enemies mocked at their sabbaths, Lamentations 1:7.

_ _ III. The patience wherewith they bore these abuses, Psalms 137:4. They had laid by their harps, and would not resume them, no, not to ingratiate themselves with those at whose mercy they lay; they would not answer those fools according to their folly. Profane scoffers are not to be humoured, nor pearls cast before swine. David prudently kept silence even from good when the wicked were before him, who, he knew, would ridicule what he said and make a jest of it, Psalms 39:1, Psalms 39:2. The reason they gave is very mild and pious: How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? They do not say, “How shall we sing when we are so much in sorrow?” If that had been all, they might perhaps have put a force upon themselves so far as to oblige their masters with a song; but “It is the Lord's song; it is a sacred thing; it is peculiar to the temple-service, and therefore we dare not sing it in the land of a stranger, among idolaters.” We must not serve common mirth, much less profane mirth, with any thing that is appropriated to God, who is sometimes to be honoured by a religious silence as well as by religious speaking.

_ _ IV. The constant affection they retained for Jerusalem, the city of their solemnities, even now that they were in Babylon. Though their enemies banter them for talking so much of Jerusalem, and even doting upon it, their love to it is not in the least abated; it is what they may be jeered for, but will never be jeered out of, Psalms 137:5, Psalms 137:6. Observe,

_ _ 1. How these pious captives stood affected to Jerusalem. (1.) Their heads were full of it. It was always in their minds; they remembered it; they did not forget it, though they had been long absent from it; many of them had never seen it, nor knew any thing of it but by report, and by what they had read in the scripture, yet it was graven upon the palms of their hands, and even its ruins were continually before them, which was ann evidence of their faith in the promise of its restoration in due time. In their daily prayers they opened their windows towards Jerusalem; and how then could they forget it? (2.) Their hearts were full of it. They preferred it above their chief joy, and therefore they remembered it and could not forget it. What we love we love to think of. Those that rejoice in God do, for his sake, make Jerusalem their joy, and prefer it before that, whatever it is, which is the head of their joy, which is dearest to them in this world. A godly man will prefer a public good before any private satisfaction or gratification whatsoever.

_ _ 2. How stedfastly they resolved to keep up this affection, which they express by a solemn imprecation of mischief to themselves if they should let it fall: “Let me be for ever disabled either to sing or play on the harp if I so far forget the religion of my country as to make use of my songs and harps for the pleasing of Babylon's sons or the praising of Babylon's gods. Let my right hand forget her art” (which the hand of an expert musician never can, unless it be withered), “nay, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I have not a good word to say for Jerusalem wherever I am.” Though they dare not sing Zion's songs among the Babylonians, yet they cannot forget them, but, as soon as ever the present restraint is taken off, they will sing them as readily as ever, notwithstanding the long disuse.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Psalms 137:1

Sat — The usual posture of mourners.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Psalms 137:1

By the rivers of Babylon, there we (a) sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

(a) That is, we abode a long time, and even though the country was pleasant, yet it could not stay our tears, nor turn us from the true service of our God.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
am cir, 3463, bc cir, 541 (Title), The author of this beautiful and affecting elegy is unknown, but the occasion is evident; and it was most probably composed during, or near the close of, the captivity.

the rivers:

Genesis 2:10-14 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. ... And the name of the third river [is] Hiddekel: that [is] it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river [is] Euphrates.
Ezra 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.
Ezra 8:31 Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth [day] of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way.
Ezekiel 1:1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth [month], in the fifth [day] of the month, as I [was] among the captives by the river of Chebar, [that] the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
, there sat,
Nehemiah 1:3-4 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province [are] in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also [is] broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. ... And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned [certain] days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
Nehemiah 2:3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, [lieth] waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?
Job 2:12-13 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. ... So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that [his] grief was very great.
Jeremiah 13:17-18 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for [your] pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD'S flock is carried away captive. ... Say unto the king and to the queen, Humble yourselves, sit down: for your principalities shall come down, [even] the crown of your glory.
Jeremiah 15:17 I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.
Lamentations 2:10 The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, [and] keep silence: they have cast up dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth: the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground.
Ezekiel 3:15 Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.

we wept:

Psalms 42:4 When I remember these [things], I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.
Psalms 102:9-14 For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping, ... For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof.
Isaiah 66:10 Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her:
Jeremiah 51:50-51 Ye that have escaped the sword, go away, stand not still: remember the LORD afar off, and let Jerusalem come into your mind. ... We are confounded, because we have heard reproach: shame hath covered our faces: for strangers are come into the sanctuaries of the LORD'S house.
Lamentations 1:16 For these [things] I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed.
Lamentations 2:11 Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city.
Lamentations 2:18 Their heart cried unto the Lord, O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest; let not the apple of thine eye cease.
Lamentations 3:48 Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people.
Lamentations 3:51 Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city.
Daniel 9:3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
Daniel 10:2-3 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. ... I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
Luke 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
Revelation 11:3 And I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
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Gn 2:10. Ezr 8:21, 31. Ne 1:3; 2:3. Jb 2:12. Ps 42:4; 102:9. Is 66:10. Jr 13:17; 15:17; 51:50. Lm 1:16; 2:10, 11, 18; 3:48, 51. Ezk 1:1; 3:15. Dn 9:3; 10:2. Lk 19:41. Rv 11:3.

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