The imprecation of Psalm 137, “blessed ( אשרי ) are the revengers and the killers of infants” (vv.
8-9) does not seem to be in comformity with the broader messages of the Psalter, “Blessed ( (אשרי
are those who delight in YHWH’s law (Ps 1:1-2) and who dwell in your house and ever praise
you (Ps 84:5)” and of the Old Testament, “Do not take revenge (Lv 19:18) and love your
neighbors and foreigners (Dt 10:19).” In order to solve this unfitting nature of the imprecation in
the Old Testament, this research utilises canonical-exegetical-theological-literary method. This
thesis undertakes literary-historical study and structural analysis of the Psalm in order to
draw out key theological themes and lays the foundation for the canonical reading of the
Psalm. It also attempts to read Psalm 137 in the five books of the Psalter in order to see how the
whole Psalter speaks of the imprecation of Psalm 137.
Imprecatory words of the psalmist can be justified by other psalms in the Psalter because
the the Psalter speaks of the restoration of the exiled people of Judah by means of the
judgment on Babylon. Lastly, this thesis reads Psalm 137 in the canonical context of the rest of
the Old Testament passages that show intertextual connections with the psalms in terms of
‘imprecation’ theme and its related themes (judgment, restoration, etc.) (Dt 32, 2 Ki 8, Is 13, Jr
51, Hs 13, Nah 3).
Canonical reading of the Psalm shows that God has dealt with His people based on the
covenant made with Israel at Sinai. The future fate of Israel totally depended on how Israel
would respond to the Sinai covenant. While there are messages for Israel, there are also
messages for Israel’s enemies, especially Babylon. It is emphasized that God would certainly
destroy Babylon in order to restore Judah. Any curse that involved the infants being dashed
against rock would not have something Israel was unfamiliar with, because this curse was
the consequence of God’s judgment in the context of war.