|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
137:5-9 What we love, we love to think of. Those that rejoice in God, for his sake make Jerusalem their joy. They stedfastly resolved to keep up this affection. When suffering, we should recollect with godly sorrow our forfeited mercies, and our sins by which we lost them. If temporal advantages ever render a profession, the worst calamity has befallen him. Far be it from us to avenge ourselves; we will leave it to Him who has said, Vengeance is mine. Those that are glad at calamities, especially at the calamities of Jerusalem, shall not go unpunished. We cannot pray for promised success to the church of God without looking to, though we do not utter a prayer for, the ruin of her enemies. But let us call to mind to whose grace and finished salvation alone it is, that we have any hopes of being brought home to the heavenly Jerusalem.
Verse 5. - If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning; literally, let my right hand forget; but the words supplied in the Authorized Version are necessary to bring out the sense, which is, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, so far as to desecrate thy sacred songs by making them an entertainment for the heathen, may I never have power to strike a note again!"
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,.... This was said by one or everyone of the Levites; or singers, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi; or by the congregation of Israel, as Jarchi; by one of them, in the name of the rest; or by the composer of the psalm. The Targum is,
"the voice of the Spirit of God answered and said, "if I forget", &c.''
that is, to weep over the calamities of Jerusalem; which might be thought, if the songs of Zion were sung; or to pray for the restoration of her prosperity and peace; as the church of Christ may be said to be forgotten, when men forget to mourn over its breaches, and show no concern for the reparation of them; or at the death of principal persons, which they lay not to heart; or at the great decay of religion in those that survive; or at the sins of professors, and their disregard to the word and ordinances: also when they forget to pray for her happiness in general; for the good of her members in particular; and especially for her ministers, that they may have assistance and success; and for a blessing on the word and ordinances, and for the conversion of sinners; and when they forget the worship of the Lord in it, and forsake the assembling of themselves together;
let my right hand forget her cunning; her skill in music, particularly in playing on the harp; see 1 Samuel 16:16; the harp was held in the left hand, and struck with the right; and that more softly or hardly, as the note required, in which was the skill or cunning of using it. Or let this befall me, should I so far forget Jerusalem as to strike the harp to one of the songs of Zion in a strange land: or let it forget any of its works; let it be disabled from working at all; let it be dry and withered, which, Aben Ezra says, is the sense of the word according to some; and Schultens (d), from the use of it in Arabic, renders it, let it be "disjointed", or the nerve loosened; see Job 31:22. Or the sense is, let everything that is as dear as my right hand he taken from me: or, as it may be rendered, "my right hand is forgotten" (e); that is, should I forget Jerusalem, it would; for that is as my right hand; so Arama. Some choose to translate the words thus, "may thou (O God) forget my right hand" (f); that is, to be at my right hand; to be a present help to me in time of need; to hold me by it, and to be the shade of it.
(d) Animadv. Philol. p. 181. (e) "oblita est nostra dextra", Castalio. (f) "Oblivisceris (O Domine) dexterae meae", Gejerus; so some in Michaelis.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5, 6. For joyful songs would imply forgetfulness of their desolated homes and fallen Church. The solemn imprecations on the hand and tongue, if thus forgetful, relate to the cunning or skill in playing, and the power of singing.
Psalm 137:5 Parallel Commentaries
Psalm 137:5 NIV
Psalm 137:5 NLT
Psalm 137:5 ESV
Psalm 137:5 NASB
Psalm 137:5 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible