Type and press Enter.

New here? See how to Get Started

The Purpose of Lent is to Experience Christ

We really do not comprehend

just how serious sin is.

One of the purposes of Lent is to help us see how our idolatry

grieves a holy God,

so that we might truly repent,

remove the false lover and experience His filling.

This week, as a preface to the second part of Isaiah,

we are going to look at just how severely God judged His people

for idolatry, sending them to be captives in Babylon for 70 years.

Jerusalem was destroyed, their babies dashed upon the rocks, and they

were taken captive by the cruel and hedonistic Babylonians.

Psalm 137 is a lament, a song of their pain, and also an imprecatory psalm,

so a most interesting psalm to ponder.

I do not know the artist who captured Psalm 137 below,

but I want you to see and hear the pain of our departed brothers and sisters

through the talent of Jason Silver,

who used this piece of art and put the lament of Psalm 137 to music.



1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?

Monday: Psalm 137 – Part I.

The pain God’s people express in Psalm 137 increases with every strophe. Let’s examine this psalm, including its shocking ending. As a background to their pain, we know that 200 years after Isaiah prophesied Judah’s captivity, Judah was taken captive. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem for over a year, killing many people and destroying the Jewish temple, taking captive many thousands of Jews, and leaving Jerusalem in ruins. Both Scripture and history records that part of the Babylonian atrocities involved dashing their little ones into pieces upon the rocks. Can man be so terrible? Yes. The same thing was done to babies in the Jewish death camps.  You cannot help but see Satan behind these atrocities. Yet God allowed it, yea, with Judah, “ordained it.” How are we to get our heads around this? We’ll look at that later, but let us first see the suffering of God’s people due to the judgment of God, and how they responded.

2. Read Psalm 137 in its entirety. You will be shocked, but read it all and then describe some of the pain God’s people were feeling.

To set up the beginning of this psalm, this is a scene from 12 Years As A Slave. In this movie you see the tormentors singing taunting songs to them, and you also see the slaves themselves singing gospel songs to sustain themselves. History shows that the slaves were often forced to dance and sing on slave ships, or to sing their songs of God as a form of mockery. Watch this clip to get a sense of the pain:


3. Read Psalm 137:1-3 and describe the scene and what their tormentors asked them to do. Does the above clip give you any empathy into their emotions?

4. How do you glimpse their resolve to resist in verse 2?

5. What question do they ask in verse 4? Why is what they are being asked to do feel impossible to them?


Tuesday: Psalm 137 – Part II.

6. The judgment of God that they are experiencing is doing a work in their hearts. How do you see this in verses 5-6?

7. Paul tells us we reap what we sow. While the judgment for our sin fell upon Christ, we will bear the fruit of sin in this life. What are some ways that your idols have put you in chains, have hurt your relationships, and have stolen your joy?

8. Looking again at Psalm 137:5-6, remember that God’s people had made idols their highest joy. So now, explain this resolve to “set Jerusalem above my highest joy!” How could you apply this?


Jerusalem Destroyed, Judah taken Captive

9. In Psalm 137:7, what are God’s people remembering?

10. In Psalm 137:8-9, what do they ask God to do?

Wednesday: Pondering and Application! Part I.

Psalm 137 is shocking, but there is much we can learn from this psalm. Remember, it is the Word of God, and it is also interesting that God answered these prayers, for the Babylonians were judged severely, and what they had done to God’s people was done to them. It is also helpful to know that Babylon in Scripture represents Satan’s evil world system, beginning with the tower of Babel in Genesis. God used Babylon to discipline God’s people but then promised to “punish the king of Babylon and his nation” (Jeremiah 25:12) “for all the wrong they have done in Zion” (Jeremiah 51:24). Isaiah 14 says the same. Ultimately, all evil will be judged, as symbolized by Babylon’s demise in Revelation 18:21: “The great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.” But indeed, how are we to apply these imprecatory psalms? You will find opinions vary, but I’d like to ponder these comments from theologians I respect, articulate what they said, and then come up with your own thoughts. I’ll warn you, they have quite different ways of looking at them, but they will stretch you and cause you to seek God. My notes are in red.

C. S. Lewis applies the imprecatory or “cursing” psalms to praying against our own evil sin and also Satan. “From this point of view I can use even the horrible passage in psalm 137 about dashing the Babylonian babies against the rocks. I know things in the inner world which are like babies; the infantile beginnings of small indulgences, small resentments which one day may become dipsomania (uncontrollable craving for alcohol) or settled hatred but which woo and wheedle us with special pleadings, so helpless that in resisting them we feel we are being cruel to animals.” (p. 36 of Reflections on the Psalms) Whether this is what the psalm teaches us to do or not, I do not know. But I do know that the principle of praying against our sins when they are small (the little foxes that spoil the vineyards) is wise.

11. What do you think of Lewis’ application? Is this helpful to you in praying against the siren call of your idol? If so, do it!

Derek Kidner tells us to do 3 things with an imprecatory psalm:

First, distill the essence of it, as God Himself did with Jeremiah and Job. (Indeed, God tells us to be honest with Him, to lament, so we need so see the pain.)

Secondly, to receive the impact of it. The raw wound, thrust before us, forbids us to give smooth answers to the fact of cruelty. To cut this witness out of the Old Testament would be to impair its value as revelation, both of what is in man and what the cross was required for our salvation.

Thirdly, our response is to recognize that our calling is to pray down reconciliation, not judgment. (p. 461 of Psalms 73-150)

12. What do you think of Kidner’s application? (Comment on any ot the points.) Whether or not you agree with the third, we do know Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. How might you pray for your “enemies?”


Thursday: Pondering and Application! Part II.

Miroslav Volf, a Croatian who teaches at Harvard, has been quoted by Tim Keller, and has been very helpful to me in understanding the lack of empathy in our protected western world for what one feels when experiencing atrocities against you and your loved ones. He says the Western World is uncomfortable with judgment, but his world is uncomfortable with a lack of judgment. There are those who say it is wrong to pray for God to be violent to our enemies. Here is quote from Miroslav Volf:

My Thesis that the practice of nonviolence requires a belief in divine vengeance will be unpopular with many Christians, especially theologians in the West. To the person inclined to dismiss it, I suggest imagining that you are delivering a lecture in a war zone … Among your listeners are people whose cities and villages have been first plundered, then burned and leveled to the ground, whose daughters and sisters have been raped, whose fathers and brothers have had their throats slit. The topic of the lecture: a Christian attitude toward violence. …it takes the quiet of a suburban home for the birth of the thesis that human nonviolence corresponds to God’s refusal to judge. In a scorched land, soaked in the blood of the innocent, it will invariably die.

I am not sure if Volf is saying we should take vengeance, but I think, rather, that we can ask God to do so. Certainly Volf is trying to build empathy for the red-hot prayer of Psalm 137:8-9.

13. What comments do you have on Miroslav Volf’s thoughts? How do you feel about praying that God will take vengeance on evil?

There have been times in my life when I have prayed that God would either change the heart of someone who is bringing evil to those I love, or to “take them out.” That doesn’t necessarily mean death, but that He will remove him and keep him from inflicting so much harm. I don’t think this prayer is incompatible with asking God to help us forgive. It seems that what has usually happened, is that God has removed them from our lives or our community. When counseling women in prison, we often pray that God will give them the strength to not go back to abusive families, but to make the family of God their family. And I know that women in prison pray that God will deal with their abusers and to remove them from their children. And we have seen Him do it! We have also seen Him change hearts.

Friday: The Judgment of God in Isaiah

We are going to look at this more next week with the help of Albert Motyer, but I was sobered to hear Greg Scharf (head preaching professor at Trinity Seminary) say that every judgment in the Scriptures is a foreshadowing of a much more terrible judgment: The Final Judgment. And surely we see this in Isaiah, as the prophet moves from the mountain peak of the current time to the final judgment of God — sometimes back and forth so quickly that your head is swirling, and sometimes it seems the two judgments are pictured as one. That makes some sense when we see that Babylon is representative of evil, of Satan who will day be cast into the pit of hell forever and ever.

14. Consider Isaiah 13 which is “The oracle concerning Babylon.” Isaiah prophesies Babylon’s coming judgement, but at the same time describes “the day of Yaweh,” or that terrible final judgment. Read Isaiah 13:1-16 and find a prophesy that:

A. Seems to fit just Babylon

B. Seems to fit just the Final Judgment

C. Seems to fit both

15. How has this study caused you to reflect on the holiness of God and your own sin?


16. What is your take-a-way and why?

















Leave a Comment

Comment * If this is your first time here, please comment then fill out your name and email as stated at the bottom. Dee will approve you within 24 hours.


  1. 15.  Reflection on God’s holiness and my sin. I think of this every time I read of judgement. I know that I deserve judgement. And while I know the blood of Jesus saves me for eternity, I am not convinced that God’s children will escape experiencing a lot of the judgement here on earth any more that Jeremiah or Ezekiel did in their day. My eternal salvation is different than how I arrive at that state.

  2. 13. What comments do you have on Miroslav Volf’s thoughts? How do you feel about praying that God will take vengeance on evil?


    I guess he is saying it’s easier to trust that God will judge when living in suburban America, and harder when horrible atrocities are committed within your sphere. I can understand that. However I don’t tend to dwell on the idea of judgment at all. If I think “I wish he would stop,” I don’t move to the next phase is punishment for not stopping; I don’t know why? I just can’t/don’t think that way. Maybe it’s because I know what I wish for won’t ever happen anyway so why bother with all that extra energy? For example, we are still involved in a situation where we have been mistreated by our daughter and her boyfriend. Although I want them to stop, I haven’t thought of them being judged by myself or God. I have prayed for them to stop. I have asked God to soften their hearts. I have asked Him to change them and make them see our side. I haven’t asked for them for them to be harmed.

    14. Read Isaiah 13:1-16 and find a prophesy that:

    A. Seems to fit just Babylon 

    “They come from a distant land, from the end of the heavens, the Lord and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.”

    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭13:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬


    B. Seems to fit just the Final Judgment

    “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.”

    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭13:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬


    C. Seems to fit both 

    “Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come!”

    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭13:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬



    15. How has this study caused you to reflect on the holiness of God and your own sin?


    I don’t tend to reflect at all on my sin 😔. I have always tried to not sin, however I just can’t seem to help myself; I’m human. Sometimes I sin and don’t even realize it until later!


    I used to think some sins were worse than others (murder, theft vs lying, gluttony). Then, since being here and immersing myself in podcasts, sermons, etc., I have been changed to believe that sin is sin regardless of the type. Now, this week, I have read that sin is distinguished in my reading the book The Holiness of God by RC Sproul. I don’t know what to think now! I can see both, and maybe RC was saying that God will be the judge according to what sin you have committed, however we, as people should treat sin as sin? We do need to put people in jail for horrible crimes because they could harm again.  I think we should talk about this more, Dee.  I will try to find the passages in the book to post here later today. If anyone can check back, please do.

    1. Here are two links to the pages in RC Sproul’s book on the Holiness of God that talk about variations of sin:





  3. 14. Consider Isaiah 13 which is “The oracle concerning Babylon.” Isaiah prophesies Babylon’s coming judgement, but at the same time describes “the day of Yaweh,” or that terrible final judgment. Read Isaiah 13:1-16 and find a prophesy that:
    A. Seems to fit just Babylon
    v.1-22  Their infants will be dashed to pieces…
    B. Seems to fit just the Final Judgment
    C. Seems to fit both
    15. How has this study caused you to reflect on the holiness of God and your own sin?
    There is no small or big sin. Everything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and usurps His rightful place in our hearts is an affront to His holiness.
    The 2 questions that Dee asked of us to answer is a really practical guide to owning up to our idols (sin). What Susan also said about anything that steals our joy is an idol in our lives.
    For me lately: approval (from my director and from the body of Christ in our church)
    I have been speaking the Word to my soul when my idols are screaming
    Psalm 16 You are my portion and my cup
    I have a delightful inheritance
    In your right hands are pleasures forever more
    16. What is your take-a-way and why?
    I tend to categorize sin as little or big. But I feel like I am beginning to be more discerning of sin the one that Song of Songs consider “the little foxes that ruin the vineyard” or the “infantile beginnings of small indulgences” according to Lewis.

    My flesh is so weak and the enemy so subtle and persistent and knowing of my Achilles heel. Memorizing the Word  particularly His promises and also passages like the imprecatory psalms balances His love for me and the reality of His holiness and justice.

    This study also brings to the forefront the need for earnest prayer for those who do not know Jesus from our own Jerusalem, our nearby Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. So much to be and do but we have the Holy Spirit as promised to give us the power. (Acts 1:8)

  4. 16.  Take-away (Is it okay to post on this when not posting on earlier questions?? 😉   )

    1) Psalm 137 is a difficult Psalm — I’ve been thinking about it most of the week, partly because Lewis’ statement didn’t make sense to me.  I couldn’t see how the Babylonians’ babies was related to my own sin.

    2) My first take-away was about making Jerusalem my highest joy.  One distractor for me is the news app on my cell phone.  I will explore how to get rid of it or at least make it less obvious.

    3)Re:  Lewis’ comment:  I think that his application re: the babies and praying against our own sin is stretching the interpretation of the these verses too far — and it continued to bug me wondering how he came to that conclusion.   But I did think that praying against my own sin is a good idea.  The problem is that sometimes when my sins are in their infancy, I am oblivious (e.g., the news app has been on my phone since I first got it; I don’t think I noticed the impact it was having on me until the problem had grown.  I even made it a point to look at different perspectives — while that may have caused me to be more objective, it also made me more frustrated, as well as wasted more time).

    4)  Imprecatory psalm thing that I just noticed today:  Not only did the psalmist pray for bad stuff to happen to the Babylonians, he prayed against himself if he forgot God (that his right hand wouldn’t be able to play the harp and that his tongue would stick to the roof of his mouth — he wouldn’t be able to sing).   This seems kinda scary to me because I can be forgetful.  But it also is sobering and makes me see His holiness and want to worship Him even more.  Seeing the Lord as my highest joy permeated my thoughts all week.

    One sort of fleeting question I had:  Could Jerusalem be interpreted as The Church or even heaven?   I also was challenged to honor the Church, the body of Christ more.  But I don’t know if that’s stretching the Psalm too much.  (Then again, Lewis stretched it so maybe I can, too, as long as the application is consistent with other parts of Scripture!)

  5. This psalm has been hard to ponder. The questions also have been hard.

    It was hard to look at the sin, of myself and others. So I ended up not completing the questions. Thanks to you who have done such a good job of pondering.

    I am so touched by little Philip and his aversion to the suffering of the cross of Christ.


  6. Thanks for sharing my song! <3 God bless you all.


  7. Wow, you are? Thank you so much! I was surprised to see that 5% of my YouTube traffic in the last 28 days came from a site called deebrestin.com, and so that brought me here. Thanks for sending visitors my way. 🙂


    It’s nice to meet a sister in Christ, working to serve God as you do. I pray God continues to bless your ministry! I pray that your book will be a huge success!

    Thanks again!