Over a year ago when I was to be elder at Sunday worship service, including giving the call to worship I considered using Psalm 137 as a call to worship. There had been depressing news regarding Covid-19 and I felt down, and my sense was that many in the church might be feeling the same way. Psalm 137 is a psalm of lament, the main one I know. And verses 2 & 3 resonate with me – Sing us a song of Zion. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?
I felt obligated in my own mind to use the entire psalm. It is only 9 verses. But verse 9 was a problem – A blessing on the one who seizes your children and smashes them against the rock. So I used a different call to worship.
Shortly afterwards I read Reading While Black by Esau McCaulley. There is a chapter about Psalm 137. He explained how the black church sees the Bible as a dialogue between God and the people seeking to know God. And how a people who have been forcefully removed from their homeland could feel like the martyrs in Revelation 6 who cry out, “How long before you require justice for our blood?” and envision that justice being something like heads being smashed against the rock.