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Saturday, May 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Lamentations 2

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-9

LAMENTATIONS - CHAPTER 2

GOD’S ANGER AGAINST HIS REBELLIOUS PEOPLE

The deep sorrow manifested in this second lamentation is rooted in the recognition that the wrath by which Jerusalem and the temple have been overthrown was the very wrath of Jehovah. Israel’s age-long Defender has delivered her over to the righteous judgment which she has long deserved!

Ignoring the moral and spiritual obligations of her covenant relationship with Jehovah, Israel presumed that this position of high privilege was hers, irrevocably; though she rejected the lordship of her covenant-Lover - refusing His counsel and despising His reproof! (Proverbs 1:24-32). Thus, she has been delivered up to taste the bitter fruit of her own rebellion!

Since she has perverted His ordinances - despising and heaping shame on His "memorial name", which He had chosen to place in Jerusalem -the Lord has stretched out His hand, in judgment, on the covenant-nation, just as He had previously stretched it out against their enemies.

Vs. 1-9: THE MANIFESTATION OF DIVINE HOSTILITY

1. God’s anger against Jerusalem is likened unto a covering cloud, (comp. Ezekiel 30:18; Ezekiel 32:7-8); in the day when it was poured out, neither her splendid temple (Isaiah 64:11), nor the ark of the covenant (1 Chronicles 28:2; Psalms 99:5; Psalms 132:7), could afford any protection; from a position of high and heavenly privilege, she was cast down to the earth in crushing humiliation, (vs. 1; comp. Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-16; Hebrews 10:26-31).

2. Without pity (vs. 17; 3:34), the judgment of Jehovah has consumed both the open villages and fortified cities of Judah (comp. vs. 5; Psalms 21:9; Jeremiah 13:12-14) - profaning both the king and kingdom that have refused to cooperate with His holy purpose concerning them, (vs. 2; comp. Psalms 89:39-40; Isaiah 43:28).

a. The people whom the Lord called to be a ".kingdom of priests", and a "holy nation" (Exodus 19:5-6), have profaned themselves by gross wickedness and idolatry.

b. So, Jehovah had canceled their privileged status, withdrawn from them the relationship of covenant-fellowship with Himself (because they have broken His covenant), and reduced them to a position BENEATH that of the nations they had so desperately endeavored to imitate!

c. And, In the New Testament, a woe is pronounced upon Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum - where the mighty works of Jesus, so abundantly manifesting His messianic authority, did not lead to repentance and faith! (Matthew 11:20-24).

3. In the fierceness of His anger, the Lord has cut off the horn (power, strength, or authority) of Israel, (Deuteronomy 33:17; Psalms 75:10; Jeremiah 48:25; Zechariah 1:18-21); withdrawing His outstretched hand Of judgment from Israel’s enemies (Psalms 74:11), He has now stretched it out over the chosen nation (Isaiah 5:25) in such a way as to consume them by the fire of His indignation, (vs. 3; Isaiah 42:25; Jeremiah 21:14; Th1:7-10).

4. In an anthropomorphic figure, Jeremiah likens God to a human enemy of the people who have long antagonized Him by their persistent idolatry, (vs. 4); in His anger He has so swallowed up the nation that mourning and moaning are multiplied in Judah, (vs. 5).

5. The Lord’s rejection of - the chosen people is most emphatically and impressively set forth in verses 6-9.

a. His destruction of the temple, causing feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten, rejection of king and priest, casting off of His altar and repudiation of His holy place - all dramatically demonstrate that outward rituals cannot avert divine judgment upon a presumptuous and ungrateful people who stubbornly reject the covenant-love of Jehovah and refuse the obligations of high privilege!

b. Verse 7 describes the horrifying pillaging of Jerusalem and the temple complex, as the shouts of the enemy are heard within her walls.

c. By metonomy, the "wall" stands for the whole of Zion (Jerusalem); as a builder carefully "measures" for the quality construction of an edifice, so, the Lord is very PRECISE in assuring its TOTAL DEMOLITION! (comp. Matthew 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 19:44; Luke 21:6); the entire passage is one that assumes the ultimate triumph of divine righteousness, (Isaiah 42:24; comp. Romans 3:25).

d. There remains for Judah NOT THE SLIGHTEST SYMBOL OF SECURITY, (vs. 9; comp. Jeremiah 49:31; Psalms 147:13); her priests being led captive into the nations, there is no instruction in the law of her God (comp. Ezekiel 7:26); nor do her prophets receive any visions from the Lord.

e. Isn’t it strange that the word of the Lord is most highly valued when it is NOT AVAILABLE? (comp. 1Sa ­28:6; 2 Chronicles 15:1-3; Micah 3:5-7; Amos 8:11).

Verses 10-13

Vs. 10-13: FAMINE, AND ITS CONSEQUENT SUFFERINGS

1. The "elders", who held positions of great influence and responsibility in the land, are left without any civil duties because of the utter desolation of the land, (vs. 10).

a. Thus, they sit upon the ground in grief-stricken impotence, and dumb with grief, (comp. Job 2:13; Isaiah 3:26; Ezekiel 3:15; Ezekiel 27:30; Amos 8:3).

b. The placing of dust upon one’s head was a sign of mourning, (Joshua 7:6; Job 2:12; Ezekiel 27:30).

c. The clothing of one’s self in sackcloth (which was usually made of black goat hair) signified mourning for the dead (Genesis 37:24), penitence for sin (1 Kings 21:27-29), or the lamentation of some great calamity, (Ezra 4:1; Job 16:15; Jeremiah 6:26).

d. In affliction and grief, her virgins hang their heads to the ground, (Lamentations 1:4).

2. In verses 11-12 Jeremiah pictures the deep emotional exhaustion of both himself and Jerusalem: failing eyes (Lamentations 1:16; Lamentations 3:48-51; Jeremiah 9:1), troubled hearts (Lamentations 1:20; Jeremiah 4:19), and the "liver" (viewed as the seat of emotions) poured out upon the ground (comp. Job 16:13); they cannot escape the horrors of destruction so permanently fixed upon the vision of memory!

a. They have seen young children and sucklings faint, for very hunger, in the open places of the city, (vs. 19; comp. Jeremiah 44:7).

b. They cannot forget the pleadings of those little ones for "bread and wine" - the most staple articles of food, (Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:17).

c. And they can still hear their pain-racked groans when, faint with starvation, they collapse, like wounded men - their lives ebbing away in the bosom of their helpless and grief-stricken mothers! (Lamentations 4:4).

d. What a stark contrast to the blessings promised when the nation is ultimately restored! (Zechariah 8:5).

3. Though mourners are sometimes consoled by the realization that they do not grieve alone, the prophet searches in vain for some word that will soothe the gaping wound of the daughter of Zion; her only hope for comfort is in the God whom she has so grievously offended by her willful wickedness, (vs. 13; comp. Psalms 42).

a. The tragic thing about the calamity that befalls those who rebel against the Most High is that the CONSEQUENCES OF SIN often fall upon the Innocent as well as the guilty -Jesus Christ being the supreme illustration of this principle, (1 Peter 2:22).

b. The corporate nature of the covenant made on Mt Sinai carried with it a corporate responsibility; the callous indifference of Judean parents to the claims of Jehovah upon their lives, and those of their children; and the selling of their children in spiritual bondage to Baal, made the righteous judgment of God upon the whole A MORAL NECESSITY! (Exodus 20:4-5).

c. And parents still have a tremendous responsibility for the physical, moral and spiritual well-being of their children, (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20; 1 Timothy 5:4).

Verses 14-17

Vs. 14-17: PROPHETS: TRUE AND FALSE

1. Jeremiah had pleaded with Judah to reject the lying prophets who catered to their sinful ways and encouraged them in that which -turning them aside from the obligations of their covenant-relationship with Jehovah - could only lead to the out-pouring of His wrath upon their sins, (vs. 14; Jeremiah 14:14-16; Jeremiah 23:25-32; Jeremiah 29:8-9).

a. The prophet OUGHT to so expose the iniquities of a self­ deceived people as to turn them from their wickedness! (Isaiah 58:1; Micah 3:8; Ezekiel 23:36-42).

b. This could have led to national health, (Isaiah 58:6-9).

2. There was a time when the "City of David" (Jerusalem, "the city of the great king’, Psalms 48:2; Matthew 5:35) was viewed as "the perfection of- beauty" and "the joy of the whole earth", (Psalms 50:2; Psalms 48:2); now that she lies prostrate in the dust, the long-smoldering resentment of her enemies finds expression in malicious and humiliating taunts of mockery and ridicule (vs. 15-16; Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 18:16; Lamentations 3:46).

3. The purpose of Jehovah upon a persistently rebellious nation has now been fulfilled; His threatened judgment upon unrepented iniquity has fallen upon the sinners of Zion! (vs. 17; Leviticus 26:1-45).

a. The significant role of HUMAN CHOICE (freely expressed) in the out-working of God’s purpose, for weal or woe, is clearly revealed in the CONDITIONAL NATURE of many Old Testament prophecies.

b. Divine judgment upon Judah was long suspended - while the Lord waited for her to repent and return to the fold; thus, averting the threatened calamity, (Ezekiel 33:10-16, etc.).

c. Because Judah has IGNORED the threats of divine judgment, and the pleadings for her to turn from her wickedness - to resume a walk in covenant fellowship with her Maker, the Lord has been UNSPARRING in His visitation of fiery indignation upon her wantonness, (Deuteronomy 28:15; Jeremiah 4:28; Jeremiah 18:11).

d. And, exalting the horn of her adversaries, He has caused them to rejoice over her humiliation, (Lamentations 1:5; comp. Psalms 89:41-46; Psalms 35:24 -­26).

Verses 18-22

Vs. 18-22: A CALL TO BROKEN-HEARTED SUPPLICATION

1. Here is an appeal for the daughter of Zion to turn her sorrow into a prayer - for "godly sorrow" always produces such "repentance" as leads to salvation, (vs. 18-19; comp. 2 Corinthians 7:10).

a. Her very desperation; her helplessness to provide food for her offspring who perish with hunger, ought to drive her to humble supplication before the faithful, true and living God!

b. Will she, in her wretchedness, recognize and honestly acknowledge that it has been HER OWN SIN that has erected a wall between her and Jehovah - so that He will not hear her prayer? (Isaiah 6).

c. If, in honest admission and whole-hearted repudiation of her guilt, she will cast herself on the mercy of Jehovah, then THERE IS STILL HOPE for her ultimate well-being!

2. In this direct appeal to the Lord (vs. 20-22) there is no word of reproach or recrimination against Him; it is a recognition that such a calamity was possible only because of their extended violation of the covenant relationship and neglect of their covenant-responsibilities.

a. Jerusalem is here personified as a woman whose very existence has been made possible through divine mercy, (Exodus 32:11; Deuteronomy 9:26; Isaiah 63:16-19; Jeremiah 12:7-13).

b. But, to withhold judgment, even from those who are dear to the His heart, would be inconsistent with His righteousness!

c. Thus, her little ones, her priests and prophets, her virgins and young men lie slain in her streets - utterly consumed by the righteous wrath of Jehovah!

d. The discipline of sorrow, when faced with humility and a glad yielding to the divine sovereignty, finds its fruition in a fuller knowledge, and the experience of a more intimate fellowship with God.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Lamentations 2". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/lamentations-2.html. 1985.
 
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