Psalm 137:1
Parallel Verses
New International Version
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.

New Living Translation
Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we thought of Jerusalem.

English Standard Version
By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.

New American Standard Bible
By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion.

King James Bible
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
By the rivers of Babylon-- there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion.

International Standard Version
There we sat down and cried— by the rivers of Babylon— as we remembered Zion.

NET Bible
By the rivers of Babylon we sit down and weep when we remember Zion.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
By the rivers of Babel, there we sat and we wept, when we remembered Zion.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
By the rivers of Babylon, we sat down and cried as we remembered Zion.

Jubilee Bible 2000
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

King James 2000 Bible
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

American King James Version
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yes, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

American Standard Version
By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept, When we remembered Zion.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Upon the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept: when we remembered Sion:

Darby Bible Translation
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.

English Revised Version
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

Webster's Bible Translation
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yes, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

World English Bible
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yes, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

Young's Literal Translation
By rivers of Babylon -- There we did sit, Yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

137:1-4 Their enemies had carried the Jews captive from their own land. To complete their woes, they insulted over them; they required of them mirth and a song. This was very barbarous; also profane, for no songs would serve but the songs of Zion. Scoffers are not to be compiled with. They do not say, How shall we sing, when we are so much in sorrow? but, It is the Lord's song, therefore we dare not sing it among idolaters.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 1. - By the rivers of Babylon The Euphrates and the canals derived from it, which were many, and filled with running, not stagnant, water. These would present themselves to the exiles as "rivers." There we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. The exiles had their leisure hours - they were not kept by their masters at hard work continually. During these leisure hours they naturally "sat down" by the rivers of Babylon, as the most pleasant and attractive places. They brought their harps with them (ver. 2), with some idea, perhaps, of indulging in mournful strains. Grief, however, overpowered them - Zion came to their recollection-and they could do nothing but weep.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down,.... If by Babylon is meant the country, then the rivers of it are Chebar, Ulai, Tigris, Euphrates, and others; see Ezekiel 1:1; but if the city itself, then only Euphrates, which ran through it; and is expressed by rivers, because of the largeness of it, and because of the several canals cut out of it, for the service of the city; hence Babylon is said to dwell upon many waters, Jeremiah 51:13; upon the banks whereof the captive Jews were; either through choice, where they could be alone, and mourn their fate, indulge their sorrows, and give vent to their grief; or by the order of these who carried them captive, there to be employed, either in taking goods from ships here unloaded, or to repair and maintain the banks of the rivers, or to do some servile work or another; see Ezekiel 1:1; and where they would sometimes "sit down" pensive, as mourners used to do, and lament their case, Job 2:8. Or this phrase may express their residence here, and the continuance and length of their captivity, which was seventy years: yea, Babylon itself may be meant by the waters of it; just as Thebes, in Pindar (w) is called the Dircaean waters, near to which it was;

yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion; they imitated the flowing stream by which they sat, and swelled it with their tears; they wept for their sins, which brought them thither; and it increased their sorrow, when they called to mind what privileges they had enjoyed in Zion, the city of their solemnities; where they had often seen the tribes of Israel bowing before and worshipping the God of Israel; the daily sacrifices and others offered up; the solemn feasts kept; the songs of Zion, sung by the Levites in delightful harmony; and, above all, the beauty of the Lord their God, his power and glory, while they were inquiring in his sanctuary: and also when they reflected upon the sad condition and melancholy circumstances in which Zion now was; the city, temple, and altar, lying in heaps of rubbish; no worship and service performed; no sacrifices offered, nor songs sung; nor any that came to her solemn feasts; see Lamentations 1:2.

(w) Pythia, Ode 9. d. v. 6.

The Treasury of David

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

2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.

3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.

4 How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.

6 If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

Psalm 137:1

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down." Water-courses were abundant in Babylon, wherein were not only natural streams but artificial canals: it was a place of broad rivers and streams. Glad to be away from the noisy streets, the captives sought the river side, where the flow of the waters seemed to be in sympathy with their tears. It was some slight comfort to be out of the crowd, and to have a little breathing room, and therefore they sat down, as if to rest a while and solace themselves in their sorrow. In little groups they sat down and made common lamentation, mingling their memories and their tears. The rivers were well enough, but, alas, they were the rivers of Babylon, and the ground whereon the sons of Israel sat was foreign soil, and therefore they wept. Those who came to interrupt their quiet were citizens of the destroying city, and their company was not desired. Everything reminded Israel of her banishment from the holy city, her servitude beneath the shadow of the temple of Bel, her helplessness under a cruel enemy; and therefore her sons and daughters sat down in sorrow.

"Yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion." Nothing else could have subdued their brave spirits; but the remembrance of the temple of their God, the palace of their king, and the centre of their national life, quite broke them down. Destruction had swept down all their delights, and therefore they wept - the strong men wept, the sweet singers wept! They did not weep when they remembered the cruelties of Babylon; the memory of fierce oppression dried their tears and made their hearts burn with wrath: but when the beloved city of their solemnities came into their minds they could not refrain from floods of tears. Even thus do true believers mourn when they see the church despoiled, and find themselves unable to succour her: we could bear anything better than this. In these our times the Babylon of error ravages the city of God, and the hearts of the faithful are grievously wounded as they see truth fallen in the streets, and unbelief rampant among the professed servants of the Lord. We bear our protests, but they appear to be in vain; the multitude are mad upon their idols. Be it ours to weep in secret for the hurt of our Zion: it is the least thing we can do; perhaps in its result it may prove to be the best thing we can do. Be it ours also to sit down and deeply consider what is to be done. Be it ours, in any case, to keep upon our mind and heart the memory of the church of God which is so dear to us. The frivolous may forget, but Zion is graven on our hearts, and her prosperity is our chief desire.

Psalm 137:2

"We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. The drooping branches appeared to weep as we did, and so we gave to them our instruments of music; the willows could as well make melody as we, for we-had no mind for minstrelsy. In the midst of the willows, or in the midst of the rivers, or in the midst of Babylon, it matters little which, they hung their harps aloft - those harps which once in Zion's halls the soul of music shed. Better to hang them up than to dash them down: better to hang them on willows than profane them to the service of idols. Sad indeed is the child of sorrow when he grows weary of his harp, from which in better days he had been able to draw sweet solaces. Music hath charms to give unquiet spirits rest; but when the heart is sorely sad it only mocks the grief which flies to it. Men put away their instruments of mirth when a heavy cloud darkens their souls.

Psalm 137:3

"For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song." It was ill to be a singer at all when it was demanded that this talent should go into bondage to an oppressor's will. Better be dumb than be forced to please an enemy with forced song. What cruelty to make a people sigh, and then require them to sing! Shall men be carried away from home and all that is dear to them, and yet chant merrily for the pleasure of their unfeeling captors? This is studied torture, the iron enters into the soul. It is indeed "woe to the conquered" when they are forced to sing to increase the triumph of their conquerors. Cruelty herein reached a refinement seldom thought of. We do not wonder that the captives sat them down to weep when thus insulted. "And they that wasted us required of us mirth." The captives must not only sing but smile, and add merriment to their music. Blind Samson in former days must be brought forth to make sport for Philistines, and now the Babylonians prove themselves to be loaves of the same leaven. Plundered, wounded, lettered, carried into captivity and poverty, yet must the people laugh as if it were all a play, and they must sport as if they felt no sorrow. This was wormwood and gall to the true lovers of God and his chosen land. "Saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion." Nothing would serve their turn but a holy hymn, and a tune sacred to the worship of Jehovah. Nothing will content the Babylonian mockers but one of Israel's Psalms when in her happiest days she sang unto the Lord whose mercy endureth for ever: this would make rare fun for their persecutors, who would deride their worship and ridicule their faith in Jehovah. In this demand there was an insult to their God, as well as a mockery of themselves, and this made it the more intensely cruel. Nothing could have been more malicious, nothing more productive of grief. These wanton persecutors had followed the captives into their retirement, and had remarked upon their sorrowful appearance, and "there" and then they bade the mourners make mirth for them. Could they not let the sufferers alone? Were the exiles to have no rest? The daughter of Babylon seemed determined to fill up her cup of iniquity, by torturing the Lord's people. Those who had been the most active agents of Israel's undoing must needs follow up their ferocities by mockeries. "The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." Worse than the Egyptians, they asked not labour which their victims could have rendered, but they demanded mirth which they could not give, and holy songs which they dared not profane to such a purpose.

Psalm 137:4

continued...

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

PSALM 137

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

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

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

Psalm 137:1 Additional Commentaries
Context
By the Rivers of Babylon
1By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion. 2Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps.…
Cross References
Nehemiah 1:4
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

Ezekiel 1:1
In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

Ezekiel 1:3
the word of the LORD came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the LORD was on him.
Treasury of Scripture

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yes, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

A.M. cir.

the rivers

Genesis 2:10-14 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from there …

Ezra 8:21,31 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might …

Ezekiel 1:1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in …

there sat

Nehemiah 1:3,4 And they said to me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there …

Nehemiah 2:3 And said to the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not …

Job 2:12,13 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they …

Jeremiah 13:17,18 But if you will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places …

Jeremiah 15:17 I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone …

Lamentations 2:10 The elders of the daughter of Zion sit on the ground, and keep silence: …

Ezekiel 3:15 Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelled by …

we wept

Psalm 42:4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had …

Psalm 102:9-14 For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping…

Isaiah 66:10 Rejoice you with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you that love …

Jeremiah 51:50,51 You that have escaped the sword, go away, stand not still: remember …

Lamentations 1:16 For these things I weep; my eye, my eye runs down with water, because …

Lamentations 2:11,18 My eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured …

Lamentations 3:48,51 My eye runs down with rivers of water for the destruction of the …

Daniel 9:3 And I set my face to the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, …

Daniel 10:2,3 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks…

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 to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy …

Jump to Previous
Babylon Memory Remembered Rivers Sat Seated Sit Waters Weeping Wept Zion
Jump to Next
Babylon Memory Remembered Rivers Sat Seated Sit Waters Weeping Wept Zion
Links
Psalm 137:1 NIV
Psalm 137:1 NLT
Psalm 137:1 ESV
Psalm 137:1 NASB
Psalm 137:1 KJV

Psalm 137:1 Bible Apps
Psalm 137:1 Bible Suite
Psalm 137:1 Biblia Paralela
Psalm 137:1 Chinese Bible
Psalm 137:1 French Bible
Psalm 137:1 German Bible

Alphabetical: and Babylon By down of remembered rivers sat the There we wept when Zion

OT Poetry: Psalm 137:1 By the rivers of Babylon there we (Psalm Ps Psa.) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools

Bible Hub
Psalm 136:26
Top of Page
Top of Page