The Meaning of Psalms 137:1 Explained

Psalms 137:1

KJV: By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

YLT: By rivers of Babylon -- There we did sit, Yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.

Darby: By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.

ASV: By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept, When we remembered Zion.

What does Psalms 137:1 Mean?

Verse Meaning

The writer related that he and his fellow exiles mourned over Zion"s destruction as they thought about it in distant Babylon. The rivers of Babylon were the Euphrates and its canals. Even though their situation was pleasant, the exiles wept as they longingly remembered Zion.

Context Summary

Psalm 137:1-9 - Loyalty In Adversity
It seems as if the exiles had withdrawn from the city, with its distractions, to some natural retreat beside the Euphrates. They had brought their harps with them, but had not the heart to touch their chords. Songs were choked by sobs. Suddenly a band of insolent revelers broke in on the scene, demanding one of those Temple songs for which Hebrew minstrelsy was famed.
But the Lord's song was possible only in the Lord's house. To be separated from the Temple seemed to the Jews like separation from God. When we have been led captive by our sins and have lost the sense of God's presence, we, too, lose the spring of holy joy. Let us make not Jerusalem, but the glory and interests of Christ's kingdom, our chief joy. The closing imprecation on Edom reminds one of Jeremiah 49:7-22; Lamentations 4:2; Lamentations 4:22; Ezekiel 25:12-14. We can understand it, but we must remember that we belong to another covenant. See Luke 9:54, r.v., margin; Romans 12:20. [source]

Chapter Summary: Psalm 137

1  The constancy of the Jews in captivity
7  The prophet curses Edom and Babel

What do the individual words in Psalms 137:1 mean?

By the rivers of Babylon there we sat down yea we wept when we remembered - Zion
עַ֥ל נַהֲר֨וֹת ׀ בָּבֶ֗ל שָׁ֣ם יָ֭שַׁבְנוּ גַּם־ בָּכִ֑ינוּ בְּ֝זָכְרֵ֗נוּ אֶת־ צִיּֽוֹן

נַהֲר֨וֹת ׀  the  rivers 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural construct
Root: נָהָר  
Sense: stream, river.
בָּבֶ֗ל  of  Babylon 
Parse: Proper Noun, feminine singular
Root: בָּבֶל  
Sense: Babel or Babylon, the ancient site and/or capital of Babylonia (modern Hillah) situated on the Euphrates.
יָ֭שַׁבְנוּ  we  sat  down 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, first person common plural
Root: יָשַׁב 
Sense: to dwell, remain, sit, abide.
גַּם־  yea 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: גַּם  
Sense: also, even, indeed, moreover, yea.
בָּכִ֑ינוּ  we  wept 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, first person common plural
Root: בָּכָה  
Sense: to weep, bewail, cry, shed tears.
בְּ֝זָכְרֵ֗נוּ  when  we  remembered 
Parse: Preposition-b, Verb, Qal, Infinitive construct, first person common plural
Root: זָכַר 
Sense: to remember, recall, call to mind.
אֶת־  - 
Parse: Direct object marker
Root: אֹות 
Sense: sign of the definite direct object, not translated in English but generally preceding and indicating the accusative.
צִיּֽוֹן  Zion 
Parse: Proper Noun, feminine singular
Root: צִיּׄון  
Sense: another name for Jerusalem especially in the prophetic books.