|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.
Verse 3. - For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; literally, words of song. The oppressors break into the retired gathering of their captives, and "require of them a song" - demand roughly and rudely to be entertained with the foreign music, which is perhaps sweeter than their own, or at any rate more of a novelty. And they that wasted us required us mirth. Not only was "a song" wanted but a joyous song - one that would wake feelings of mirth and gladness in those who heard it. Saying, sing us one of the songs of Zion; literally, sing us frown a song of Zion. The captives had, no doubt, spoken of the joyous strains which they had been wont to pour forth in their own city upon festive occasions. Their conquerors demand a specimen, but are repulsed with the words of the next verse.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song,.... Or, "words of a song" (z). To repeat the words of one of the songs of Zion, as it is afterwards expressed: this the Babylonians did, as the Targum; who were they that carried the Jews into captivity; and this is given as a reason why they hung their harps on willows, and were so sorrowful, because such a request as this was made;
and they that wasted us required of us mirth: the Chaldeans, who plundered them of their substance, and reduced their city and temple to heaps of rubbish, as the word (a) used signifies; or who heaped reproaches upon them, as Jarchi: these insisted not only on having the words of a song repeated to them, but that they should be set to some tune and sung in a manner expressing mirth, or would provoke unto it: or "our lamentations", according to Kimchi; that is, the authors of them (b), so barbarous were they;
saying, sing us one of the songs of Zion; which used to be sung in Zion in the temple, called the songs of the temple, Amos 8:3; this demand they made either out of curiosity, that they might know something of the temple songs and music they had heard of; or rather as jeering at and insulting the poor Jews in their miserable and melancholy circumstances; as if they had said, now sing your songs if you can: or in order to make themselves sport and diversion with them, as the Philistines with Samson. The spiritual songs of Zion are the songs of electing, redeeming, calling, pardoning, and justifying grace; which natural men neither understand, nor can learn, but scoff at and despise.
(z) "verba cantici", Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Piscator, Gejerus, Michaelis; "verba earminis", Cocceius. (a) "qui veluti in acervos nos redegerunt", Tigurine version, Grotius. (b) Vid. Stockium, p. 447.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3, 4. Whether the request was in curiosity or derision, the answer intimates that a compliance was incongruous with their mournful feelings (Pr 25:20).
Psalm 137:3 Parallel Commentaries
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