Lamentations 1-5

Thursday Evening Bible Study

July 7, 2005


The book of Lamentations is thought to have been written by the prophet Jeremiah after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC.

The title of the book, “Lamentations”, comes from a Greek word that means to “cry out”.

The book is made up of five poems, each chapter is a complete poem.

The first four poems (chapters 1-4) are written as “acrostics”. In chapters 1,2,4, each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet (that’s why there’s 22 verses, there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet). In chapter three, the verses are in groups of three, each three verses begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet (3x22=66 verses). Chapters 1-4 are also written in what’s called a “limping meter”, which is a cadence used in funeral dirges – pretty sad stuff.

The Jews read the book publicly on the ninth day of the month of Ab (about mid-July), in commemoration of the destructions of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (by the Babylonians) and in A.D. 70 (by the Romans).

Lamentations 1 (NKJV) – The First Lamentation

:1-11 Jerusalem is Barren

:1 How lonely sits the city That was full of people! How like a widow is she, Who was great among the nations! The princess among the provinces Has become a slave!

widow – one of the most hopeless, powerless, and defenseless people in ancient societies.

:2 She weeps bitterly in the night, Her tears are on her cheeks; Among all her lovers She has none to comfort her. All her friends have dealt treacherously with her; They have become her enemies.

lovers – the nations (like Egypt) that Jerusalem and Judah reached out to for help.

:3 Judah has gone into captivity, Under affliction and hard servitude; She dwells among the nations, She finds no rest; All her persecutors overtake her in dire straits.

:4 The roads to Zion mourn Because no one comes to the set feasts. All her gates are desolate; Her priests sigh, Her virgins are afflicted, And she is in bitterness.

:5 Her adversaries have become the master, Her enemies prosper; For the LORD has afflicted her Because of the multitude of her transgressions. Her children have gone into captivity before the enemy.

:6 And from the daughter of Zion All her splendor has departed. Her princes have become like deer That find no pasture, That flee without strength Before the pursuer.

princes – perhaps referring to the sons of Zedekiah.

:7 In the days of her affliction and roaming, Jerusalem remembers all her pleasant things That she had in the days of old. When her people fell into the hand of the enemy, With no one to help her, The adversaries saw her And mocked at her downfall.

:8 Jerusalem has sinned gravely, Therefore she has become vile. All who honored her despise her Because they have seen her nakedness; Yes, she sighs and turns away.

The reason for the downfall of Jerusalem was its sin.

Sometimes people will blame God for the trouble they’re in. Jeremiah knew that the trouble they were in was a result of their own sin.

:9 Her uncleanness is in her skirts; She did not consider her destiny; Therefore her collapse was awesome; She had no comforter. "O LORD, behold my affliction, For the enemy is exalted!"

:10 The adversary has spread his hand Over all her pleasant things; For she has seen the nations enter her sanctuary, Those whom You commanded Not to enter Your assembly.

Only Jews were allowed to enter into the Temple courts. Yet part of the judgment was to have the pagans defile the Temple.

:11 All her people sigh, They seek bread; They have given their valuables for food to restore life. "See, O LORD, and consider, For I am scorned."

During the siege, people would sell everything for a piece of food.

At this point, the perspective of the lament switches to the first person, as if Jerusalem itself is crying out.

:12-22 Jerusalem’s Anguish

Summarize vs. 12-22:  Jeremiah describes the anguish that the city is going through, hoping that the people would pay attention to what has happened and learn from their lessons.  Focus on vs. 18 …

:12 "Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see If there is any sorrow like my sorrow, Which has been brought on me, Which the LORD has inflicted In the day of His fierce anger.

Jerusalem cries out for people to pay attention to what has happened to it. Learn from Jerusalem’s lessons.

:13 "From above He has sent fire into my bones, And it overpowered them; He has spread a net for my feet And turned me back; He has made me desolate And faint all the day.

:14 "The yoke of my transgressions was bound; They were woven together by His hands, And thrust upon my neck. He made my strength fail; The Lord delivered me into the hands of those whom I am not able to withstand.

:15 "The Lord has trampled underfoot all my mighty men in my midst; He has called an assembly against me To crush my young men; The Lord trampled as in a winepress The virgin daughter of Judah.

:16 "For these things I weep; My eye, my eye overflows with water; Because the comforter, who should restore my life, Is far from me. My children are desolate Because the enemy prevailed."

:17 Zion spreads out her hands, But no one comforts her; The LORD has commanded concerning Jacob That those around him become his adversaries; Jerusalem has become an unclean thing among them.

:18 "The LORD is righteous, For I rebelled against His commandment. Hear now, all peoples, And behold my sorrow; My virgins and my young men Have gone into captivity.

God is righteous. He knows how to judge correctly.

(Rev 16:5-7 NKJV) And I heard the angel of the waters saying: "You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things. {6} For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due." {7} And I heard another from the altar saying, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments."

:19 "I called for my lovers, But they deceived me; My priests and my elders Breathed their last in the city, While they sought food To restore their life.

:20 "See, O LORD, that I am in distress; My soul is troubled; My heart is overturned within me, For I have been very rebellious. Outside the sword bereaves, At home it is like death.

:21 "They have heard that I sigh, But no one comforts me. All my enemies have heard of my trouble; They are glad that You have done it. Bring on the day You have announced, That they may become like me.

the day – Even though Babylon was the world reigning country basher, it too would face a day of judgment just like Jerusalem. Jeremiah spoke of this in Jeremiah 50-51.

:22 "Let all their wickedness come before You, And do to them as You have done to me For all my transgressions; For my sighs are many, And my heart is faint."

Lamentations 2 – The Destruction of Jerusalem

:1-10 God’s Anger with Jerusalem

:1 How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion With a cloud in His anger! He cast down from heaven to the earth The beauty of Israel, And did not remember His footstool In the day of His anger.

footstool – The ark of the covenant in the Temple (1 Chron. 28:2; Ps. 99:5).

:2 The Lord has swallowed up and has not pitied All the dwelling places of Jacob. He has thrown down in His wrath The strongholds of the daughter of Judah; He has brought them down to the ground; He has profaned the kingdom and its princes.

:3 He has cut off in fierce anger Every horn of Israel; He has drawn back His right hand From before the enemy. He has blazed against Jacob like a flaming fire Devouring all around.

horn – a symbol of strength

:4 Standing like an enemy, He has bent His bow; With His right hand, like an adversary, He has slain all who were pleasing to His eye; On the tent of the daughter of Zion, He has poured out His fury like fire.

:5 The Lord was like an enemy. He has swallowed up Israel, He has swallowed up all her palaces; He has destroyed her strongholds, And has increased mourning and lamentation In the daughter of Judah.

:6 He has done violence to His tabernacle, As if it were a garden; He has destroyed His place of assembly; The LORD has caused The appointed feasts and Sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion. In His burning indignation He has spurned the king and the priest.

:7 The Lord has spurned His altar, He has abandoned His sanctuary; He has given up the walls of her palaces Into the hand of the enemy. They have made a noise in the house of the LORD As on the day of a set feast.

:8 The LORD has purposed to destroy The wall of the daughter of Zion. He has stretched out a line; He has not withdrawn His hand from destroying; Therefore He has caused the rampart and wall to lament; They languished together.

:9 Her gates have sunk into the ground; He has destroyed and broken her bars. Her king and her princes are among the nations; The Law is no more, And her prophets find no vision from the LORD.

:10 The elders of the daughter of Zion Sit on the ground and keep silence; They throw dust on their heads And gird themselves with sackcloth. The virgins of Jerusalem Bow their heads to the ground.

Though it was the Babylonians that conquered Jerusalem, ultimately it was God behind the downfall of the city.

:11-22 Jeremiah’s Anguish

:11 My eyes fail with tears, My heart is troubled; My bile is poured on the ground Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, Because the children and the infants Faint in the streets of the city.

Sometimes we can get the idea that Jeremiah is just an “angry” prophet. But he’s known historically as the “weeping” prophet (also in 1:16).

He had compassion on the people he was ministering to.

:12 They say to their mothers, "Where is grain and wine?" As they swoon like the wounded In the streets of the city, As their life is poured out In their mothers' bosom.

:13 How shall I console you? To what shall I liken you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What shall I compare with you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For your ruin is spread wide as the sea; Who can heal you?

:14 Your prophets have seen for you False and deceptive visions; They have not uncovered your iniquity, To bring back your captives, But have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions.

They weren’t dealing with their sin.

The prophets didn’t expose the people’s sins.

:15 All who pass by clap their hands at you; They hiss and shake their heads At the daughter of Jerusalem: "Is this the city that is called 'The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth'?"

:16 All your enemies have opened their mouth against you; They hiss and gnash their teeth. They say, "We have swallowed her up! Surely this is the day we have waited for; We have found it, we have seen it!"

:17 The LORD has done what He purposed; He has fulfilled His word Which He commanded in days of old. He has thrown down and has not pitied, And He has caused an enemy to rejoice over you; He has exalted the horn of your adversaries.

:18 Their heart cried out to the Lord, "O wall of the daughter of Zion, Let tears run down like a river day and night; Give yourself no relief; Give your eyes no rest.

:19 "Arise, cry out in the night, At the beginning of the watches; Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him For the life of your young children, Who faint from hunger at the head of every street."

:18-19 …watches – the night was divided up into four hour stretches of time called “watches”. The idea was to wake up every four hours and cry out to the Lord.



Could the judgment have been avoided through prayer?
(James 5:16-18 NKJV) Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. {17} Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. {18} And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
Perhaps we ought to be praying for our nation?

:20 "See, O LORD, and consider! To whom have You done this? Should the women eat their offspring, The children they have cuddled? Should the priest and prophet be slain In the sanctuary of the Lord?

Sometimes during a long siege of a city, as the food is getting more and more scarce, people would resort to killing and eating their own children.

During one siege on the city of Samaria, the king of Israel encountered a problem:

(2 Ki 6:26-29 NLT) One day as the king of Israel was walking along the wall of the city, a woman called to him, "Please help me, my lord the king!" {27} "If the LORD doesn't help you, what can I do?" he retorted. "I have neither food nor wine to give you." {28} But then the king asked, "What is the matter?" She replied, "This woman proposed that we eat my son one day and her son the next. {29} So we cooked my son and ate him. Then the next day I said, 'Kill your son so we can eat him,' but she had hidden him."

:21 "Young and old lie On the ground in the streets; My virgins and my young men Have fallen by the sword; You have slain them in the day of Your anger, You have slaughtered and not pitied.

:22 "You have invited as to a feast day The terrors that surround me. In the day of the Lord's anger There was no refugee or survivor. Those whom I have borne and brought up My enemies have destroyed."

Lamentations 3

:1-18 Jeremiah’s Lament

Summary:  vs. 1-18, Jeremiah talks about how miserable life has become.

:1 I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.

:2 He has led me and made me walk In darkness and not in light.

:3 Surely He has turned His hand against me Time and time again throughout the day.

:4 He has aged my flesh and my skin, And broken my bones.

:5 He has besieged me And surrounded me with bitterness and woe.

:6 He has set me in dark places Like the dead of long ago.

:7 He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out; He has made my chain heavy.

He has hedged me in – Better, “walled me in”. The Assyrians popularized the practice of walling up prisoners so that they would die more quickly. Jeremiah feels like he’s experiencing this same kind of torture.

:8 Even when I cry and shout, He shuts out my prayer.

:9 He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked.

:10 He has been to me a bear lying in wait, Like a lion in ambush.

:11 He has turned aside my ways and torn me in pieces; He has made me desolate.

:12 He has bent His bow And set me up as a target for the arrow.

:13 He has caused the arrows of His quiver To pierce my loins.

loinskilyah – kidneys. Thought to be the center of the emotions. We might say, “to pierce my heart”

:14 I have become the ridicule of all my people; Their taunting song all the day.

Jeremiah didn’t have a “fun” life. He had a hard life.

:15 He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drink wormwood.

:16 He has also broken my teeth with gravel, And covered me with ashes.

:17 You have moved my soul far from peace; I have forgotten prosperity.

:18 And I said, "My strength and my hope Have perished from the LORD."

:19-41 Jeremiah’s Hope

:19 Remember my affliction and roaming, The wormwood and the gall.

We all will experience depression:


Fits of depression come over most of us. Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy. There may be here and there men of iron, but surely the rust frets even these.

-- C. H. Spurgeon

:20 My soul still remembers And sinks within me.

All the judgment and destruction that Jeremiah has seen has just been too much.

It’s a little like what we went through as a nation on September 11, 2001 when the planes crashed into the buildings in New York and Washington.

It’s probably a little like what the people of England are going through today after the bombings in London.

But you don’t have to sink in despair. There is a way out.

:21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.

These are the things (vs. 21-42) that will give us hope. These are the things to meditate on when you are down.


You have a choice

Sometimes we get to thinking that depression is something that we have no control over, almost like we become a helpless victim beat up by some monster that’s greater than us.
Yet Jeremiah knew that he had some choices.
He had a choice over what he was going to think about.
The Optimist
There is a story of identical twins. One was a hope-filled optimist. “Everything is coming up roses!” he would say. The other twin was a sad and hopeless pessimist. He thought that Murphy, as in Murphy’s Law, was an optimist. The worried parents of the boys brought them to the local psychologist. He suggested to the parents a plan to balance the twins’ personalities. “On their next birthday, put them in separate rooms to open their gifts. Give the pessimist the best toys you can afford, and give the optimist a box of manure.” The parents followed these instructions and carefully observed the results. When they peeked in on the pessimist, they heard him audibly complaining, “I don’t like the color of this computer . . I’ll bet this calculator will break . . . I don’t like the game . . . I know someone who’s got a bigger toy car than this . . .” Tiptoeing across the corridor, the parents peeked in and saw their little optimist gleefully throwing the manure up in the air. He was giggling. “You can’t fool me! Where there’s this much manure, there’s gotta be a pony!”
You have a choice in the morning on how you are going to face the day.  Are you going to focus on the problems or on the God who loves you?

:22 Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.

We could have been totally wiped out. The fact that we got up in the morning shows us that God is compassionate and merciful.


Out West, a cowboy was driving down a dirt road, his dog riding in back of the pickup truck, his faithful horse in the trailer behind. He failed to negotiate a curve and had a terrible accident.

Sometime later, a highway patrol officer came on the scene. An animal lover, he saw the horse first. Realizing the serious nature of its injuries, he drew his service revolver and put the animal out of its misery. He walked around the accident and found the dog, also hurt critically. He couldn’t bear to hear it whine in pain, so he ended the dog’s suffering as well.

Finally he located the cowboy—who suffered multiple fractures—off in the weeds. “Hey, are you okay?” the cop asked. The cowboy took one look at the smoking revolver in the trooper’s hand and quickly replied, “Never felt better!”

In other words, life could even be worse than it is

We have not yet been consumed.

merciescheced – goodness, kindness, faithfulness; God’s “loyal love”.

compassionsracham – womb; compassion

God cares so much about us.

He has demonstrated His love for us in a way that we should never ever doubt.

(Rom 5:8 NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(1 John 3:16 NKJV) By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.


Timothy Bedugher & Alvin Reid write (Evangelism for a Changing World, (Shaw, 1995), pp. IX.),

It was during that period of my life that I went to a chapel service one day at the seminary. I wasn't expecting much. A graduate student was to preach, and I had never heard of him. His name was Roy Fish. I entered that chapel discouraged, tired, and exhausted. Roy Fish preached that morning and challenged us to be about the business of winning people to Jesus Christ. He concluded with an illustration I have never forgotten. He told about the illness of their infant son and his brush with death. He described how he felt as his son lay near death in the hospital. He described how he began to ask in his heart, "What would I regret most if my son died?" As he pondered this question, the answer came clear. I would regret that he died never knowing how much I loved him.
With this illustration, Roy Fish revealed an insight into the character of God, whose great heart grieves over every lost soul. "Surely", Roy said, "God grieves because the lost who die without Christ never know how much he loves them."

If He loves us that much, we ought to be careful about assuming that the difficult things in life are because He hates us. He doesn’t hate us.


A farmer printed on his weather vane the words “God is love.” Someone asked him if he meant to imply that the love of God was as fickle as the wind. The farmer answered: “No, I mean that whichever way the wind blows, God is love. If it blows cold from the North, or biting from the East, God is still love just as much as when the warm South or gentle West winds refresh our fields and flocks. God is always love.”

:23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

every morning – every morning you wake up, you have a fresh batch of God’s faithfulness waiting for you.


Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
In her book, Celebrate Joy!, Velma Seawell Daniels gives a striking new meaning to this familiar phrase. She tells of interviewing a man who had made a trip to Alaska to visit people who live above the Arctic Circle.
“Never ask an Eskimo how old he is,” the man said. “If you do, he will say, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” And he doesn’t. One of them told me that, and I pressed him a bit further. When I asked him the second time, he said, “Almost—that’s all.” That still wasn’t good enough for me, so I asked him “Almost what?” and he said, “Almost one day.”
Mrs. Daniels asked him if he could figure out what the Eskimo meant. He answered that he did but only after talking to another man who had lived in the Arctic Circle for about twenty years. “He was a newspaperman who had written a book about the Eskimos and their customs and beliefs. He said the Eskimos believe that when they go to sleep at night they die—that they are dead to the world. Then, when they wake up in the morning, they have been resurrected and are living a new life. Therefore, no Eskimo is more than one day old. So, that is what the Eskimo meant when he said he was ‘almost’ a day old. The day wasn’t over yet.”
“Life above the Arctic Circle is harsh and cruel, and mere survival becomes a major accomplishment,” he explained. “But, you never see an Eskimo who seems worried or anxious. They have learned to face one day at a time.”

And every morning you get up, you have an entire day of God’s faithfulness ahead of you.


Don’t you kind of hate it when you’re watching a TV show and you are wondering how they’re going to wrap it all up in the last three minutes, only to face the words “To Be Continued…”?
But for us, God’s “faithfulness” has those three words written all over it – “To Be Continued …”
Every morning.

What’s new?

Faithfulness‘emuwnah – firmness, fidelity, steadfastness, steadiness. You can count on God to come through.


In a recent interview with Today’s Christian Woman, author Gwen Shamblin told this story:
The girls at the horse barn next door are sweet, but they kept wanting our collies, Chaucer and Virginia, to come over. I told them, “I don’t know about letting them come across the fence ‘cause they might get confused. But as long as you don’t feed them, it’s fine.”
Soon I had no dogs. They were over at the barn every day, living the high life. I’d call them home, but they wouldn’t come. ... Eventually I realized the problem was that our dogs no longer knew who their master was. So a silent war was declared that day. I had to lift Chaucer and carry him home from the barn. We put our dogs on leashes. Then I fussed at Chaucer and Virginia when they were over there, and loved them when they were at home. Then we’d unleash them, test them, find them back over at the barn, and have to repeat the process. But finally we got their hearts back home. ...
Did I want those dogs because of their work? No! They bark at the wrong people. They bark at cars leaving, not coming. They slobber all over me and my company. They’re completely in the way. They steal the cat food. They’re trouble, but they’re still precious to me, and I adore them.
And that’s how God feels about us. We’re precious in his sight, and he pursues us. He’s faithful even when we’re not.
-- Leadership, Vol. 19, no. 3.

Why every morning?


One of Rabbi Ben Jochai’s scholars once asked him, “Why did not the Lord furnish enough manna to Israel for a year all at one time?” The teacher said, “I will answer you with a parable. Once there was a king who had a son to whom he gave a yearly allowance, paying him the entire sum on the fixed date. It soon happened that the day on which the allowance was due was the only day of the year when the father ever saw his son. So the king changed his plan and gave his son day by day that which was sufficient for the day; and then the son visited his father every morning. How he needed his father’s unbroken love, companionship, wisdom and giving! Thus God dealt with Israel and deals with us.”

:24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!"

He is all we need.

:25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him.

He is good – so wait on Him, seek Him

:26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the LORD.

:27 It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth.

(La 3:27 The Message) It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.

(La 3:27 NLT) 27 And it is good for the young to submit to the yoke of his discipline.

Sometimes when we’re young we don’t see the value of sticking it out in difficult times.

When you get older you realize that if you don’t learn the lesson the first time, you’ll have to learn it eventually. It’s better to learn things as they go instead of continually putting them off by running away from your problems.

James says it’s not bad when we encounter difficult times:

(James 1:2-4 NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, {3} knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. {4} But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Getting through tough times builds strong spiritual muscles. You’re going to need strong spiritual muscles sooner or later. It’s better to get them sooner.

:28 Let him sit alone and keep silent, Because God has laid it on him;

:29 Let him put his mouth in the dust; There may yet be hope.

mouth in the dust – an eastern way of showing complete submission.

:30 Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him, And be full of reproach.

give his cheek – a sign of total surrender

This is a picture of Jesus.

(Isa 50:6 KJV) I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

(Mat 26:67 KJV) Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,

:31 For the Lord will not cast off forever.

God had not completely abandoned the Jews.

:32 Though He causes grief, Yet He will show compassion According to the multitude of His mercies.

:33 For He does not afflict willingly, Nor grieve the children of men.

God doesn’t enjoy causing us pain. But sometimes He has to allow pain into our lives to their correct us or to grow us.

(Heb 12:5-11 NKJV) And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

God chastens us because we are His children. He chastens us because He loves us.

:34 To crush under one's feet All the prisoners of the earth,

:35 To turn aside the justice due a man Before the face of the Most High,

:36 Or subvert a man in his cause; The Lord does not approve.

God does not like it when people are unjust to one another.

:37 Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, When the Lord has not commanded it?

Nothing happens without God’s permission.

:38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That woe and well-being proceed?

:39 Why should a living man complain, A man for the punishment of his sins?

:40 Let us search out and examine our ways, And turn back to the LORD;

:41 Let us lift our hearts and hands To God in heaven.

Turn back to God.

:42-54 Jeremiah’s suffering

:42 We have transgressed and rebelled; You have not pardoned.

:43 You have covered Yourself with anger And pursued us; You have slain and not pitied.

:44 You have covered Yourself with a cloud, That prayer should not pass through.

It seems as if prayers don’t make it through to God.

:45 You have made us an offscouring and refuse In the midst of the peoples.

offscouring – from the word for “scrape”; Something rejected and unfit for use

:46 All our enemies Have opened their mouths against us.

:47 Fear and a snare have come upon us, Desolation and destruction.

:48 My eyes overflow with rivers of water For the destruction of the daughter of my people.

:49 My eyes flow and do not cease, Without interruption,

The Weeping Prophet.

:50 Till the LORD from heaven Looks down and sees.

:51 My eyes bring suffering to my soul Because of all the daughters of my city.

:52 My enemies without cause Hunted me down like a bird.

:53 They silenced my life in the pit And threw stones at me.

Several times Jeremiah was thrown into a pit or a “dungeon”.

:54 The waters flowed over my head; I said, "I am cut off!"

:55-66 Jeremiah’s Prayer

Summary:  Jeremiah prays for God’s help.  He prays for vengeance on his enemies.

:55 I called on Your name, O LORD, From the lowest pit.

:56 You have heard my voice: "Do not hide Your ear From my sighing, from my cry for help."

:57 You drew near on the day I called on You, And said, "Do not fear!"

:58 O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul; You have redeemed my life.

:59 O LORD, You have seen how I am wronged; Judge my case.

:60 You have seen all their vengeance, All their schemes against me.

:61 You have heard their reproach, O LORD, All their schemes against me,

:62 The lips of my enemies And their whispering against me all the day.

:63 Look at their sitting down and their rising up; I am their taunting song.

:64 Repay them, O LORD, According to the work of their hands.

:65 Give them a veiled heart; Your curse be upon them!

:66 In Your anger, Pursue and destroy them From under the heavens of the LORD.

Lamentations 4 – The Defeated People of Jerusalem

:1-12 The Siege of the City Described

:1 How the gold has become dim! How changed the fine gold! The stones of the sanctuary are scattered At the head of every street.

:2 The precious sons of Zion, Valuable as fine gold, How they are regarded as clay pots, The work of the hands of the potter!

:3 Even the jackals present their breasts To nurse their young; But the daughter of my people is cruel, Like ostriches in the wilderness.

ostriches will abandon their eggs in the sand.

:4 The tongue of the infant clings To the roof of its mouth for thirst; The young children ask for bread, But no one breaks it for them.

:5 Those who ate delicacies Are desolate in the streets; Those who were brought up in scarlet Embrace ash heaps.

brought up in scarlet – the very wealthy

:6 The punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people Is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, Which was overthrown in a moment, With no hand to help her!

:7 Her Nazirites were brighter than snow And whiter than milk; They were more ruddy in body than rubies, Like sapphire in their appearance.

Nazirites – those “separated”, set apart for God’s use (Num. 6). Some translate this as “nobles” or “princes”.

:8 Now their appearance is blacker than soot; They go unrecognized in the streets; Their skin clings to their bones, It has become as dry as wood.

:9 Those slain by the sword are better off Than those who die of hunger; For these pine away, Stricken for lack of the fruits of the field.

:10 The hands of the compassionate women Have cooked their own children; They became food for them In the destruction of the daughter of my people.

:11 The LORD has fulfilled His fury, He has poured out His fierce anger. He kindled a fire in Zion, And it has devoured its foundations.

:12 The kings of the earth, And all inhabitants of the world, Would not have believed That the adversary and the enemy Could enter the gates of Jerusalem;

:13-22 Reasons for the Siege

:13 Because of the sins of her prophets And the iniquities of her priests, Who shed in her midst The blood of the just.

Your sins will find you out.

:14 They wandered blind in the streets; They have defiled themselves with blood, So that no one would touch their garments.

:15 They cried out to them, "Go away, unclean! Go away, go away, Do not touch us!" When they fled and wandered, Those among the nations said, "They shall no longer dwell here."

vs. 13-15 – when the true nature of the false prophets were found out, they were treated like lepers, called “unclean” and shunned.

:16 The face of the LORD scattered them; He no longer regards them. The people do not respect the priests Nor show favor to the elders.

:17 Still our eyes failed us, Watching vainly for our help; In our watching we watched For a nation that could not save us.

a nation – they were hoping for Egypt to save them, but Egypt didn’t come through.

:18 They tracked our steps So that we could not walk in our streets. Our end was near; Our days were over, For our end had come.

:19 Our pursuers were swifter Than the eagles of the heavens. They pursued us on the mountains And lay in wait for us in the wilderness.

:20 The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, Was caught in their pits, Of whom we said, "Under his shadow We shall live among the nations."

the “anointed” – speaking about the king of Judah. Yet Zedekiah was caught by the Babylonians.

:21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, You who dwell in the land of Uz! The cup shall also pass over to you And you shall become drunk and make yourself naked.

Edom was initially allowed to take over parts of Judah after the Babylonians conquered it, but they would eventually be conquered by Babylon as well.

:22 The punishment of your iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; He will no longer send you into captivity. He will punish your iniquity, O daughter of Edom; He will uncover your sins!

Lamentations 5 – Jeremiah’s Prayer

:1-18 Confession

Summary:  vs. 1-18 Jeremiah confesses that the nation is in this situation because of sin.

:1 Remember, O LORD, what has come upon us; Look, and behold our reproach!

:2 Our inheritance has been turned over to aliens, And our houses to foreigners.

aliens – don’t think “War of the Worlds”. Think “foreigners”.

:3 We have become orphans and waifs, Our mothers are like widows.

:4 We pay for the water we drink, And our wood comes at a price.

The captives had to pay for things normally considered free. Who would ever imagine having to pay for water? J

:5 They pursue at our heels; We labor and have no rest.

:6 We have given our hand to the Egyptians And the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.

They reached out to these nations for help and offered to pay them to help.

:7 Our fathers sinned and are no more, But we bear their iniquities.

:8 Servants rule over us; There is none to deliver us from their hand.

:9 We get our bread at the risk of our lives, Because of the sword in the wilderness.

Perhaps people would sneak out of the city to get food?

:10 Our skin is hot as an oven, Because of the fever of famine.

:11 They ravished the women in Zion, The maidens in the cities of Judah.

:12 Princes were hung up by their hands, And elders were not respected.

Hanging a body up after execution was a huge humiliation.

:13 Young men ground at the millstones; Boys staggered under loads of wood.

:14 The elders have ceased gathering at the gate, And the young men from their music.

:15 The joy of our heart has ceased; Our dance has turned into mourning.

:16 The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned!

:17 Because of this our heart is faint; Because of these things our eyes grow dim;

:18 Because of Mount Zion which is desolate, With foxes walking about on it.

:19-22 Petition

:19 You, O LORD, remain forever; Your throne from generation to generation.

:20 Why do You forget us forever, And forsake us for so long a time?

:21 Turn us back to You, O LORD, and we will be restored; Renew our days as of old,

:22 Unless You have utterly rejected us, And are very angry with us!

Heavy stuff. What a depressing way to end the book.

When we read through the Psalms, we find that David often wrote songs when he was depressed. Many times David will turn his eyes upward and find hope before the song is over, but not all the time.

Life is often just like this. Sometimes a day ends and you still don’t see how it will all be fixed.

Because this book ends on a negative note, when it was publicly read, verse 21 was customarily repeated after the reading of verse 22.