Book of Lamentations

From Journey the Word

The Book of Lamentations was a book by Jeremiah that outlined his time of lament. This was probably around 586-585 BC. There is a series of five laments to express his intense sorrow and emotional pain over the destruction of Jerusalem. Each lament, except for the third one, appears to have 22 verses. The third one had 66 verses. Each lament correspond to the chapter, so five chapters in the book, each chapter its own lament. His deep anguish and sorrow sometimes kept him from being courageous enough to reveal the prophecies that God directed him, to which God gave him confidence to do. Jeremiah was somewhat cowardly; therefore, God had to instill confidence so that His Purposes would be fulfilled. Jeremiah deeply cared for the nation and it grieved him about the destruction and their stubbornness.

The first lament was about the desolation and devastation of Jerusalem, to which he gives a description of the destroyed city as well as the cause of it, and he detailed the agony of the people. It grieved him more that people persecuted him for things that he said. No one cared about God’s Will or plans, they cared about their own things. Jerusalem was such a busy city, and now it’s empty. Anguish came from the cries of the people, and their grief was made worse by the mockery of its neighbor nations. The sins of the people weighed them down, because it was disobedience to God, and they deserved punishment.

The second lament then begins, which Jeremiah writes on the sufferings that were sent by God, for God was angry. God had great anger against them, and their glory was turned to darkness. They expected God to be the defender, but they instead have to see Him as the attacker. But, the people didn’t know that God’s purposes were of justice and dignity, not uncontrollably or wildly wrathful. He knew what He was doing, and it was a just punishment for their disobedience. Their deliberate disobedience came with a price tag, and they had to pay the price if they refused to repent. God gave them many chances as we see detailed in Isaiah and Jeremiah’s books, therefore, since God satisfied His amount of chances He’d given them, it was time to begin the destruction. The city has fallen and people see how the false prophets misled them. The one true prophet who’d be hearing from God is persecuted and despised, because he’s speaking truth – but all they wanted is candy to their ears. They wanted to know that their sinful ways were okay, and they could continue in idolatry. The writer gives the image of a destroyed Jerusalem, and begins to talk about God’s afflicted people.

The third lament begins now, and Jeremiah talks about God’s afflicted people and the hope for them. Jeremiah describes the situation of God’s people, and how they’re suffering. He feels like a starving man getting ready to die, as if he already dwells in the world of the dead. He describes himself like a man who’s chained and locked inside a stone prison with no way out. Jeremiah describes God as a wild animal that prepares to tear His prey into pieces, or like a hunter who’d shot His prey with an arrow. However, even though the punishments came, Jeremiah still trusts in Him, and knows that God’s steadfast love never changes. He knows that God disciplines and trains people, and those that are patient enjoy His salvation. Even through the lament and depression, Jeremiah finds hope. The people of God are then assured that He doesn’t reject them forever and that God doesn’t take pleasure in punishment, but that they need to examine themselves and repent. In the fourth lament, he talks about Zion’s past, present, and future – as he contrasts the past and present and describes the cause of the devastation. Edom had to be punished and Judah had to be restored. So, a prayer for restoration is needed.

Jeremiah concludes his laments with a prayer for restoration, as we see in chapter five. In the fifth lament, he prays for the need for mercy, the confession of sin, and for restoration. He pleaded to God for mercy, as the people were in shame. Death has hurt their families, invaders have taken over the land, and people have to live and work like slaves in their own country. Conditions are surely terrible, and so much sin is occurring. In a final plea, the people cry to Him; that He wouldn’t reject them, but bring them back to Himself. They want restoration and happiness – for God is eternal and unchangeable, they are His People, and so surely, He wouldn’t want to forget them.