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Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

Whenever I debate someone about Bible literal-ism they usually mention Psalm 137:9 KJV. Based on the Protestant doctrine, how can I handle this?

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Here's some Protestant doctrine –  Peter Turner Jan 10 '12 at 18:43
    
How and why are you debating Bible literalism that this question even comes up? –  Flimzy Jan 11 '12 at 7:33
    
@Flimzy, if in a discussion about bible literalism, this passage comes up. Personally I am not a hard lined literal bible reader, but this one one where I cannot explain it away. For instance, "did Jesus literally walk on water?" I may or may not believe this, but I can say, "it doesn't matter as you get the same meaning from the story - that with God all things are possible and w/o God you will have 'troubled waters'" –  user1054 Jan 11 '12 at 17:42
    
So I guess your comment about Bible literalism doesn't really relate to the question, it's just an aside, eh? –  Flimzy Jan 11 '12 at 18:01
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2 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The meaning is pretty obvious in context.

Ps 137 is a lament for Jerusalem after the Babylonians have invaded and destroyed it. Verses 7-9 make it explicit:

7 Remember, LORD, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. “Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!” 8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us. 9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

This is sheer gloating on the part of the psalmist. Whoever overthrows Babylon is someone the author wants to buy a beer! (Put another way, that person is someone really popular with the author.) Whoever wrote this really hated the Babylonians, and would love to kill their children.

Is this "right?" Remember, this is a psalm - an ancient song of the Hebrews. I suspect many a future scholar will puzzle over, say, the misogynistic lyrics of Eminem or many like-minded rappers. Psalms express the feelings of the writer, NOT THEOLOGICAL RULES FOR YOUR BEHAVIOR. (Although, it is often argued that the feelings reflected in the Psalms should be that of a mature Christian.)

Note also, there is nothing that says "You should bash a baby against a rock." Doesn't fit with the text or the nature of God. It would be a misreading of the text, which actually proves the point there are "rules" for reading the text.

So, why is it in Scripture?

Who knows. 'Could be that God desired to illustrate that the Exiles had learned their lesson about spurning God's good gifts in Jerusalem, could just be that people agreed with the sentiment.

For a person who doesn't believe the Bible is a "real" book, this verse is actually a pretty good arguement. If the Bible were merely the work of "men with an agenda," there doesn't seem to be a good reason to let such a genuine feeling in here.

The Bible can be literal but still express itself in the language of feeling.

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Very well said. –  Narnian Jan 10 '12 at 20:38
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"misogynistic lyrics of Eminem or many like-minded rappers" - but, these people are not our religious leaders nor are they saying that it is God's will. –  user1054 Jan 11 '12 at 3:21
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Nor is there any indication that the psalmist is one of the religious readers, nor is this psalm suggesting that the death of the Babylonian babies is God's will. Note, this is clearly a prayer to God, not a word from him. –  Affable Geek Jan 11 '12 at 3:34
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7 Remember, LORD, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. “Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!” 8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us. 9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

In the entire psalm, the author writes about a captivity. The physical captivity was in Babylon during Jeremiah. But reported spiritually, the captivity is of a sin. The physical act was done when Babylon was conquered, but this is not the message sent by God.

In Revelations we meet the Babylon a few times. Every time it is referred as the city of sin and it symbolises the world ruled by Satan. In our perspective this means that the author rejoices every time anyone repays the evil the people in the world do to us. You could make a parallel with Revelations 18 where it speaks about the fall of Babylon and it's destruction. (Rev 18:6 is similar to Ps 137:8)

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protected by Community Jun 4 '13 at 17:31

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