Lectionary Reflection for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

Psalms for All Seasons

This excerpt comes from Psalms for All Seasons, commenting on Psalm 137:

Psalm 137 ruminates on the despair of captivity. It remembers how the songs of the people were silenced, while the taunting requests of the captors to sing the songs of God (v. 3) and the taunting calls of captors to destroy Jerusalem (v. 7) continue to echo in memory.

The psalm’s rumination culminates with one of the most biting curses of the Psalter. The curse intensifies a theme present in the Psalter since Ps. 1, suggesting the the blessed are not only those who avoid the scorners but also those who take vengeance against them.

This psalm helps modern readers enter into the unspeakable despair of the people of Israel, a correction to overly sentimental readings of the OT narrative. Many commentators pause in contemplative silence as they reflect on other contemporary appropriations of this psalm.


Prayer for reflection:

God of justice, we pray for all refugees and wanderers,
the abused and the tortured, the exiles of every land and people.
When loss and grief rob us of song,
may we entrust our hurts and hatreds to you,
the true and final judge of all. Amen.


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