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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Lamentations 3

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole BibleCommentary Critical




Jeremiah proposes his own experience under afflictions, as an example as to how the Jews should behave under theirs, so as to have hope of a restoration; hence the change from singular to plural (Lamentations 3:22; Lamentations 3:40-47). The stanzas consist of three lines, each of which begins with the same Hebrew letter.


Verse 1

1-3. seen affliction—his own in the dungeon of Malchiah ( :-); that of his countrymen also in the siege. Both were types of that of Christ.

Verse 2

2. darkness—calamity.


Verse 3

3. turneth . . . hand—to inflict again and again new strokes. "His hand," which once used to protect me. "Turned . . . turneth" implies repeated inflictions.


Verse 4

4-6. ( :-).

Verse 5

5. builded—mounds, as against a besieged city, so as to allow none to escape (so Lamentations 3:7; Lamentations 3:9).

Verse 6

6. set me—HENDERSON refers this to the custom of placing the dead in a sitting posture.

dark places—sepulchers. As those "dead long since"; so Jeremiah and his people are consigned to oblivion (Psalms 88:5; Psalms 88:6; Psalms 143:3; Ezekiel 37:13).


Verse 7

7-9. hedged— (Job 3:23; Hosea 2:6).

chain—literally, "chain of brass."

Verse 8

8. shutteth out—image from a door shutting out any entrance ( :-). So the antitype. Christ ( :-).

Verse 9

9. hewn stone—which coheres so closely as not to admit of being broken through.

paths crooked—thwarted our plans and efforts so that none went right.


Verse 10

10-13. (Job 10:16; Hosea 13:7; Hosea 13:8).

Verse 11

11. turned aside—made me wander out of the right way, so as to become a prey to wild beasts.

pulled in pieces— ( :-), as a "bear" or a "lion" ( :-).

Verse 12

12. ( :-).


Verse 13

13-15. arrows—literally, "sons" of His quiver (compare :-).

Verse 14

14. ( :-).

their song— ( :-). Jeremiah herein was a type of Messiah. "All my people" (John 1:11).

Verse 15

15. wormwood— ( :-). There it is regarded as food, namely, the leaves: here as drink, namely, the juice.


Verse 16

16-18. gravel—referring to the grit that often mixes with bread baked in ashes, as is the custom of baking in the East ( :-). We fare as hardly as those who eat such bread. The same allusion is in "Covered me with ashes," namely, as bread.

Verse 17

17. Not only present, but all hope of future prosperity is removed; so much so, that I am as one who never was prosperous ("I forgat prosperity").

Verse 18

18. from the Lord—that is, my hope derived from Him (Psalms 31:22).


Verse 19

19-21. This gives the reason why he gave way to the temptation to despair. The Margin, "Remember" does not suit the sense so well.

wormwood . . . gall— (Jeremiah 9:15).

Verse 20

20. As often as my soul calls them to remembrance, it is humbled or bowed down in me.

Verse 21

21. This—namely, what follows; the view of the divine character (Lamentations 3:22; Lamentations 3:23). CALVIN makes "this" refer to Jeremiah's infirmity. His very weakness (Lamentations 3:19; Lamentations 3:20) gives him hope of God interposing His strength for him (compare Psalms 25:11; Psalms 25:17; Psalms 42:5; Psalms 42:8; 2 Corinthians 12:9; 2 Corinthians 12:10).


Verse 22

22-24. ( :-).

Verse 23

23. ( :-).

Verse 24

24. (Numbers 18:20; Psalms 16:5; Psalms 73:26; Psalms 119:57; Jeremiah 10:16). To have God for our portion is the one only foundation of hope.


Verse 25

25-27. The repetition of "good" at the beginning of each of the three verses heightens the effect.

wait— ( :-).

Verse 26

26. quietly wait—literally, "be in silence." Compare Lamentations 3:28; Psalms 39:2; Psalms 39:9, that is, to be patiently quiet under afflictions, resting in the will of God (Psalms 37:7). So Aaron (Leviticus 10:2; Leviticus 10:3); and Job (Job 40:4; Job 40:5).

Verse 27

27. yoke—of the Lord's disciplinary teaching (Psalms 90:12; Psalms 119:71). CALVIN interprets it, The Lord's doctrine (Matthew 11:29; Matthew 11:30), which is to be received in a docile spirit. The earlier the better; for the old are full of prejudices (Proverbs 8:17; Ecclesiastes 12:1). Jeremiah himself received the yoke, both of doctrine and chastisement in his youth (Jeremiah 1:6; Jeremiah 1:7).


Verse 28

28-30. The fruit of true docility and patience. He does not fight against the yoke (Jeremiah 31:18; Acts 9:5), but accommodates himself to it.

alone—The heathen applauded magnanimity, but they looked to display and the praise of men. The child of God, in the absence of any witness, "alone," silently submits to the will of God.

borne it upon him—that is, because he is used to bearing it on him. Rather, "because He (the Lord, Lamentations 3:26) hath laid it on him" [VATABLUS].

Verse 29

29. ( :-). The mouth in the dust is the attitude of suppliant and humble submission to God's dealings as righteous and loving in design (compare Ezra 9:6; 1 Corinthians 14:25).

if so be there may be hope—This does not express doubt as to whether GOD be willing to receive the penitent, but the penitent's doubt as to himself; he whispers to himself this consolation, "Perhaps there may be hope for me."

Verse 30

30. Messiah, the Antitype, fulfilled this; His practice agreeing with His precept (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 5:39). Many take patiently afflictions from God, but when man wrongs them, they take it impatiently. The godly bear resignedly the latter, like the former, as sent by God (Psalms 17:13).


Verse 31

31-33. True repentance is never without hope (Psalms 94:14).

Verse 32

32. The punishments of the godly are but for a time.

Verse 33

33. He does not afflict any willingly (literally, "from His heart," that is, as if He had any pleasure in it, :-), much less the godly ( :-).


Verse 34

34-36. This triplet has an infinitive in the beginning of each verse, the governing finite verb being in the end of Lamentations 3:36, "the Lord approveth not," which is to be repeated in each verse. Jeremiah here anticipates and answers the objections which the Jews might start, that it was by His connivance they were "crushed under the feet" of those who "turned aside the right of a man." God approves (literally, "seeth," Lamentations 3:36- :; so "behold," "look on," that is, look on with approval) not of such unrighteous acts; and so the Jews may look for deliverance and the punishment of their foes.

Verse 35

35. before . . . face of . . . most High—Any "turning aside" of justice in court is done before the face of God, who is present, and "regardeth," though unseen (Ecclesiastes 5:8).

Verse 36

36. subvert—to wrong.


Verse 37

37-39. Who is it that can (as God, Psalms 33:9) effect by a word anything, without the will of God?

Verse 38

38. evil . . . goodCalamity and prosperity alike proceed from God (Job 2:10; Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6).

Verse 39

39. living—and so having a time yet given him by God for repentance. If sin were punished as it deserves, life itself would be forfeited by the sinner. "Complaining" (murmuring) ill becomes him who enjoys such a favor as life (Proverbs 19:3).

for the punishment of his sins—Instead of blaming God for his sufferings, he ought to recognize in them God's righteousness and the just rewards of his own sin.


Verse 40

40-42. us—Jeremiah and his fellow countrymen in their calamity.

search—as opposed to the torpor wherewith men rest only on their outward sufferings, without attending to the cause of them (Psalms 139:23; Psalms 139:24).

Verse 41

41. heart with . . . hands—the antidote to hypocrisy (Psalms 86:4; 1 Timothy 2:8).

Verse 42

42. not pardoned—The Babylonian captivity had not yet ended.


Verse 43

43-45. covered—namely, thyself (so Lamentations 3:44), so as not to see and pity our calamities, for even the most cruel in seeing a sad spectacle are moved to pity. Compare as to God "hiding His face," Psalms 10:11; Psalms 22:25.

Verse 44

44. ( :-). The "cloud" is our sins, and God's wrath because of them (Isaiah 44:22; Isaiah 59:2).

Verse 45

45. So the apostles were treated; but, instead of murmuring, they rejoiced at it ( :-).


Verse 46

46-48. Pe is put before Ain (Lamentations 3:43; Lamentations 3:46), as in Lamentations 2:16; Lamentations 2:17; Lamentations 4:16; Lamentations 4:17. (Lamentations 2:16.)

Verse 47

47. Like animals fleeing in fear, we fall into the snare laid for us.

Verse 48

48. ( :-).


Verse 49

49-51. without . . . intermission—or else, "because there is no intermission" [PISCATOR], namely, of my miseries.

Verse 50

50. Till—His prayer is not without hope, wherein it differs from the blind grief of unbelievers.

look down, &c.— (Isaiah 63:15).

Verse 51

51. eye affecteth mine heart—that is, causeth me grief with continual tears; or, "affecteth my life" (literally, "soul," Margin), that is, my health [GROTIUS].

daughters of . . . city—the towns around, dependencies of Jerusalem, taken by the foe.


Verse 52

52-54. a bird—which is destitute of counsel and strength. The allusion seems to be to :- [CALVIN].

without cause— (Psalms 69:4; Psalms 109:3; Psalms 109:4). Type of Messiah (John 15:25).

Verse 53

53. in . . . dungeon— ( :-).

stone—usually put at the mouth of a dungeon to secure the prisoners (Joshua 10:18; Daniel 6:17; Matthew 27:60).

Verse 54

54. Waters—not literally, for there was "no water" ( :-) in the place of Jeremiah's confinement, but emblematical of overwhelming calamities (Psalms 69:2; Psalms 124:4; Psalms 124:5).

cut off— (Isaiah 38:10; Isaiah 38:11). I am abandoned by God. He speaks according to carnal sense.


Verse 55

55-57. I called out of dungeon—Thus the spirit resists the flesh, and faith spurns the temptation [CALVIN], (Psalms 130:1; Jonah 2:2).

Verse 56

56. Thou hast heard—namely formerly (so in Lamentations 3:57; Lamentations 3:58).

breathing . . . cry—two kinds of prayer; the sigh of a prayer silently breathed forth, and the loud, earnest cry (compare "prayer," "secret speech," Isaiah 26:16, Margin; with "cry aloud," Isaiah 26:16- :).

Verse 57

57. Thou drewest near—with Thy help (James 4:8).


Verse 58

58-60. Jeremiah cites God's gracious answers to his prayers as an encouragement to his fellow countrymen, to trust in Him.

pleaded— (Psalms 35:1; Micah 7:9).

Verse 59

59. God's past deliverances and His knowledge of Judah's wrongs are made the grounds of prayer for relief.

Verse 60

60. imaginations—devices ( :-).

Their vengeance—means their malice. Jeremiah gives his conduct, when plotted against by his foes, as an example how the Jews should bring their wrongs at the hands of the Chaldeans before God.


Verse 61

61-63. their reproach—their reproachful language against me.

Verse 62

62. lips—speeches.

Verse 63

63. sitting down . . . rising up—whether they sit or rise, that is, whether they be actively engaged or sedentary, and at rest "all the day" ( :-), I am the subject of their derisive songs ( :-).


Verse 64

64-66. (Jeremiah 11:20; 2 Timothy 4:14).

Verse 65

65. sorrow—rather, blindness or hardness; literally, "a veil" covering their heart, so that they may rush on to their own ruin (Isaiah 6:10; 2 Corinthians 3:14; 2 Corinthians 3:15).

Verse 66

66. from under . . . heavens of . . . Lorddestroy them so that it may be seen everywhere under heaven that thou sittest above as Judge of the world.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Lamentations 3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfb/lamentations-3.html. 1871-8.
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