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How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger!
We have here a continuation of the same subject as the former. The Prophet mourns over the desolated circumstances of Jerusalem, and complains of those afflictions to God.
How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger! The Lord hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob, and hath not pitied: he hath thrown down in his wrath the strong holds of the daughter of Judah; he hath brought them down to the ground: he hath polluted the kingdom and the princes thereof. He hath cut off in his fierce anger all the horn of Israel: he hath drawn back his right hand from before the enemy, and he burned against Jacob like a flaming fire, which devoureth round about. He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire. The Lord was as an enemy: he hath swallowed up Israel, he hath swallowed up all her palaces: he hath destroyed his strong holds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation. And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the LORD hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest. The Lord hath cast off his altar, he hath abhorred his sanctuary, he hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; they have made a noise in the house of the LORD, as in the day of a solemn feast. The LORD hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath stretched out a line, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together. Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the LORD. The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, and keep silence: they have cast up dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth: the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground. Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mothers' bosom.
We shall not fully enter into the spirit of this solemn scripture nor discover the chief bent of the man of God's lamentations, unless we take with us, all along what it was that so deeply afflicted his mind, and gave the finishing stroke to his sorrow, namely, that it was the Lord's doing. Painful as it was in itself to be brought under the humblings of a proud foe; yet, the aggravated circumstances in it were, that the Lord's hand directed the whole. And when the Lord smites, and for sin also, doubly and tenfold distressing is that misery. Reader! make application of this to the sorrows of Jesus, when receiving at the Lord's hand double for the sins of his beloved Jerusalem, for whom he became surety. The sword of justice that awoke and smote the man that was God's fellow, awoke and smote him at Jehovah's command: yea, it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and to put him to grief. Zechariah 13:7 ; Isaiah 53:4-23.53.6 .
What thing shall I take to witness for thee? what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee? Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment. All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth? All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee: they hiss and gnash the teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up: certainly this is the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen it. The LORD hath done that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old: he hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: and he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee, he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries. Their heart cried unto the Lord, O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest; let not the apple of thine eye cease. Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street. Behold, O LORD, and consider to whom thou hast done this. Shall the women eat their fruit, and children of a span long? shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord? The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword; thou hast slain them in the day of thine anger; thou hast killed, and not pitied. Thou hast called as in a solemn day my terrors round about, so that in the day of the LORD'S anger none escaped nor remained: those that I have swaddled and brought up hath mine enemy consumed.
There is somewhat very blessed in this address of the Prophet to the Lord, in the close of the Chapter. Pouring out the heart before the Lord, and spreading all our sorrows at the mercy-seat; these are among the sure tokens of grace. It is a certain sign that our afflictions are sanctified, when these effects follow. When our exercises lead our hearts to God, and not lead them from God. When Jesus is still loved as Jesus, and his grace and righteousness still sought after, and still above all things valued. Neither doth the soul's humble submission to the Lord's will under sorrowful exercises, become unsuitable or unbecoming, to be accompanied with earnest prayers to be delivered from them. Jesus himself is here our great example: who, when he came purposely to do away sin by suffering, yet in His agonies desired the cup might pass from him, Matthew 26:39 . But while by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving we make our requests known unto God; the work of grace will always induce not only a composed resignation, but more than this, even a perfect approbation, that all is right, though the cup of sorrow be not taken away. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right
READER! it will be our wisdom from the perusal of the lamentations of the mournful Prophet, to gather consolation to our exercises, and. the exercises of Zion in all ages: and study to learn those sweet and gracious lessons the Holy Ghost intended, from such a record in his sacred scripture.
We see then in this part of the history of the Church, to what a state of sorrow God's people may be brought, when their sins and backslidings testify against them. And will not God in every age, chasten the same in his people? Will he overlook sin in them, more than in the world? Nay, will He not chastise them much more, in proportion as sin in them is more offensive in the divine eye, than in
others? Sin indeed, as sin, is the same thing in all. But, nevertheless, it is worse in God's children than in the ungodly; just as a weed in a garden, though the same as in the hedge or field, is yet more offensive, and more proper to be rooted out. Let us learn therefore from hence, how sure sin, in all its various forms, must induce the divine displeasure, and bring on the chastisement of God.
In the next place, let us under all our exercises of affliction trace our sorrows to the source, and when we find the Achan in the camp, bring all with deep contrition before the Lord: and say in the Lord's own words, take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, so will we render the calves of our lips!
And above all, Reader! see to it, that in all our sorrow for sin, and desires after pardon from the guilt of it, the whole is done with an eye to Christ. It is He which hath borne our sins and carried our sorrows; and it is wholly in respect to him and his finished salvation, that God pardons the sin and accepts the sinner. Even the corrections of the Lord are not for the satisfaction of God's justice, for that justice hath been fully satisfied by the blood of the cross; and the chastisement of our peace was upon him, by whose stripes we are healed. But all corrections for sin become the testimony of God's holiness; and are in the charter of grace so set forth, and not by way of expiation. Therefore with an eye to Jesus, and the everlasting efficacy of his sin-cleansing blood, let our sorrow for sin, and repentance towards God be always accompanied: And oh! how sweet and precious the thought, that the same merit is in the blood of the Lamb as ever, though new contracted defilement be in his people, from day to day. Precious Jesus! thou hast made my peace by the blood of thy cross.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Lamentations 2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany