Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Lamentations 3

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-18

Lam 3:1-18

Lamentation over grievous sufferings on

the part of the surviving people of Judah

(Lamentations 3:1-18)

I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.He hath led me and caused me to walk in darkness, and not in light. Surely against me he turneth his hand again and again all the day. My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail. He hath made me to dwell in dark places, as those that have been long dead. He hath walled me about, that I cannot go forth; he hath made my chain heavy. Yea, when I cry, and call for help, he shutteth out my prayer (Lamentations 3:1-8).

Let us first examine the “I” that suffered so much at the hand of Jehovah God. Apparently, the I equates to the we and us of Lamentations 3:40-47. The identity of the author of this third poem is clearly the godly who had remained alive and witnessed all the gruesome wrath of Jehovah

Judah had suffered the “rod of his wrath.” The Lord is depicted as using’ His divine rod of correction in other parts of scripture as well as here. Job spoke of God’s rod of anger as did Isaiah (Job 21:9; Isaiah 10:5). The Babylonians were used as God s rod of chastisement against His people for their wickedness (Jeremiah 25:8-9; Jeremiah 51:20).

Judah walked in the darkness of gloom; there was no good news to give them cheer. They were besieged, starving, diseased, and dying by the sword. Jehovah smote them with His hand continuously (again and again). Such punishment gave way to ruin of the fleshly bodies of many.uponHis people.

The city of Jerusalem was besieged and there was no escape. Many had died and could not return to the land of the living. Judah was confined in the siege and could only await her destruction. Such a state of being was compared to having a heavy chain to bear about. To make matters all the worse, those who prayed to Jehovah for relief knew that He had shut His "ear to them and would not hear" (cf. Jeremiah 7:16).

He hath walled up my ways with hewn stone; he hath made my paths crooked. He is unto me as a bear lying in wait, as a lion in secret places. He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces; he hath made me desolate. He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. He hath caused the shafts of his quiver to enter into my reins. I am become a derision to all my people, and their song all the day. He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath sated me with wormwood. He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones; he hath covered me with ashes. And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace; I forgat prosperity. And I said, My strength is perished, and mine” expectation from Jehovah. Remember mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall (Lamentations 3:9-18).

The mind of Judah saw her circumstances as an imposable situation to escape or be delivered from. Each route of escape they took, a bear or lion awaited to shred them to pieces. Desolation, sorrow, and death had overcome Judah. The arrows of sorrow and despair had pierced Judah through. So wounded were they that they that others mocked them for their great distress.

Jehovah had given them stones to eat in the place of bread, and they had ground their teeth down yet received no sustenance. So long had Judah been in a state of mashing by the hand of God that they knew not what prosperity was like. Judah was so wearied by the mashing of God that they were without strength and without hope of being saved from their punishment.

Verses 19-39

Lam 3:19-39

Through deep despair there was a ray of hope

(Lamentations 3:19-39)

My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind; therefore have I hope. [It is of] Jehovah’s loving kindnesses that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. Jehovah is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. Jehovah is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him (Lamentations 3:19-25).

After the description of the state of mind Judah was in (i.e., deep sorrow, pain, and bitterness), the surviving people proclaimed that there was hope in Jehovah God because He was the God of lovingkindness (cf. Jeremiah 9:23). God is a God of love and compassion (cf. Psalms 89:2; Psalms 107:43; Isaiah 63:7). It is this primary thought that gave Judah a ray of hope, otherwise all“ would be consumed. ”Due to Israel having hope, the author proclaimed, great is thy faithfulness (cf. Psalms 36:6). The idea of waiting on Jehovah is firmly established in Isaiah as a primary theme of the book (cf. Isaiah 40:31). Those who seek out the Lord will not be disappointed in His promises!

It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait for the salvation of Jehovah. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone and keep silence, because he hath laid it upon him. Let him put his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope. Let him give his cheek to him that smiteth him; let him be filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast off for ever. For though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses(Lamentations 3:26-32).

These verses deal with how man handles himself during God s chastening. Let man bear the yoke of suffering patiently and silently (that is, without complaining and murmering against God).

Secondly, the sufferer is to put his mouth in the dust.” This indicates the frame of mind of the one suffering. The mouth in the dust cannot speak against his ill fortune. He is, therefore, commanded to bear his burden with dignity recognizing that Jehovah is molding his mental frame.

Thirdly, the sufferer is to endure the abuse of men due to his suffering. God will not allow the suffering to continue without end. Jehovah is not a God that gains pleasure in chastising His beloved children but One who sees the necessity thereof (cf. Jeremiah 32:41). Interestingly, the apostle Paul and” Barnabas taught that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God while in Galatia (Acts 14:22). Paul’s attitude toward said afflictions was that no matter how difficult, they cannot be compared to the glories of heaven that exist for those who wait upon the Lord with patience (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. To crush under foot all the prisoners of the earth, To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the Most High, To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not. Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not? Out of the mouth of the Most High cometh there not evil and good? Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? (Lamentations 3:33-39).

Jehovah God in His sovereignty,’ omniscience, and omnipresence knows all things and without Him nothing occurs. Man s sufferings thereby emanate from the Lord as is indicated in Job 1-2. This being the case, no man has the right of complaint’ when undergoing suffering for the sins he has committed. Herein is the reason for Judah s intense suffering... it was for their sin!

Verses 40-66

Lam 3:40-66

Judah recognized her sins

and in great sorrow wept

(Lamentations 3:40-66)

Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to Jehovah. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. We have transgressed and have rebelled; thou hast not pardoned. Thou hast covered with anger and pursued us; thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, so that no prayer can pass through. Thou hast made us an off-scouring and refuse in the midst of the peoples. All our enemies have opened their mouth wide against us. Fear and the pit are come upon us, devastation and destruction (Lamentations 3:40-47).

After searching and trying their conduct of days past, they were moved to lift up their hands towards the heavens and pray with a heart of humility for help from Jehovah God. Lamentations 3:42 begins the earnest prayer with confession of their sins and acknowledgement of the reason behind their affliction.

Jehovah had pursued the people of Judah and had killed them with the sword, pestilence, and famine (cf. Jeremiah 29:18). A time of zero hope of help from Jehovah God was proved by the Lord having a barrier around Him as a cloud to block out all prayers of His people (cf. Jeremiah 7:16; Jeremiah 11:14; Jeremiah 14:11-12).

Mine eye runneth down with streams of water, for the destruction of the daughter of my people. Mine eye poureth down, and ceaseth not, without any intermission, Till Jehovah look down, and behold from heaven. Mine eye affecteth my soul, because of all the daughters of my city. They have chased me sore like a bird, they that are mine enemies without cause. They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and have cast a stone upon me. Waters flowed over my head; I said, I am cut off. I called upon thy name, O Jehovah, out of the lowest dungeon. Thou heardest my voice; hide not thine ear at mybreathing, at my cry. Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee; thou saidst, Fear not (Lamentations 3:48-57).

Apparently the author of the book’ of Lamentation, i.e., Jeremiah, now addressed his own emotional state. First, Jeremiah’s pain was over the wicked state of the women in Judah. The virgin daughters were afflicted (Lamentations 1:4) and gone into captivity (Lamentations 1:18), mothers had eaten their children in intense hunger (Lamentations 2:20), and both mother and virgin daughter lay dead in the streets having been killed by sword (Lamentations 2:21). Such sights and knowledge caused Jeremiah to be emotionally spent with deep sorrow.

The more we consider the prayer mentioned above wherein Jehovah heard, the more we must conclude that those praying were the afflicted of Jehovah God even though He said He “would” not hear (cf. Lamentations 3:44)’. Apparently, this prayer pointed to the future for those who patiently wait upon Jehovah s promise and deliverance. This interpretation fits best into the context of the remaining portion of this chapter.

O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life. O Jehovah, thou hast seen my wrong; judge thou my cause. Thou hast seen all their vengeance and all their devices against me. Thou hast heard their reproach, O Jehovah, and all their devices against me, The lips of those that rose up against me, and their device against me all the day. Behold thou their sitting down, and their rising up; I am their song. Thou wilt render unto them a recompense, O Jehovah, according to the work of their hands. Thou wilt give them hardness of heart, thy curse unto them. Thou wilt pursue them in anger, and destroy them from under the heavens of Jehovah (Lamentations 3:58-66).

Again the prophet spoke for the people in this prayer, and the thoughts of Lamentations 1:22 come to light. The enemies of Jehovah had committed gross sin and therefore the prayer was that they, too, be punished.

The more Jehovah would punish them the harder their hearts would ’come to be (as with Pharaoh of Egypt). What would and should be a blessing to God s enemies (i.e., His chastening hand) becomes to them a curse because rather than being moved to repentance and acknowledgement of Jehovah God as the one true God they are hardened all the more.

Hope in the Midst of Affliction

Questions on Lamentations 3:1-66

Open It

1. If you were to portray pain and suffering through poetry, music, or painting, which one medium would you choose? Why?

2. What gives you hope when you are troubled?

Explore It

3. How did the writer identify with the sufferings of the people of Judah? (Lamentations 3:1-18)

4. To whom were the sufferings of the people directly attributed? (Lamentations 3:1-18)

5. What did the poet recall? (Lamentations 3:19-21)

6. In the middle of lamenting the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, what profound assurance did the writer express? (Lamentations 3:22-24)

7. What virtues were affirmed by the author? (Lamentations 3:25-27)

8. How was God’s mercy revealed in suffering? (Lamentations 3:28-33)

9. What was intolerable to the Lord? (Lamentations 3:34-36)

10. How did the writer describe the nature of God’s knowledge? (Lamentations 3:37-38)

11. What did the writer say about sin and suffering? (Lamentations 3:39)

12. In identifying with God’s people, what did the poet urge them to do? (Lamentations 3:40-42)

13. How did the writer describe the sorrows of sin? (Lamentations 3:43-54)

14. What was the prayer of the penitent sinner? (Lamentations 3:55-66)

15. How did the prayer include both comfort and cursing? (Lamentations 3:55-66)

Get It

16. What valuable lessons have you learned through personal suffering?

17. How have you been affected by God’s hand of discipline?

18. What do you know about the mercies of God in the middle of difficulty?

19. Why does relying on God give you hope?

20. What message of hope can we offer to people who are in despair?

21. If the author of Lamentations wrote a letter to your congregation, what specific call to repentance would be given?

Apply It

22. To whom could you write a supportive letter (or make a phone call) to provide a word of encouragement and hope?

23. When can you spend some time in prayer to thank the Lord for His faithfulness and acts of mercy in your life?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Lamentations 3". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/lamentations-3.html.
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