Lamentations 1

Lamentations 1

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How Lonely Sits the City

  How lonely sits the city
    that was full of people!
  How like a widow has she become,
    she who was great among the nations!
  She who was a princess among the provinces
    has become a slave.
  She weeps bitterly in the night,
    with tears on her cheeks;
  among all her lovers
    she has none to comfort her;
  all her friends have dealt treacherously with her;
    they have become her enemies.
  Judah has gone into exile because of affliction
    and hard servitude;
  she dwells now among the nations,
    but finds no resting place;
  her pursuers have all overtaken her
    in the midst of her distress.
  The roads to Zion mourn,
    for none come to the festival;
  all her gates are desolate;
    her priests groan;
  her virgins have been afflicted,
    and she herself suffers bitterly.
  Her foes have become the head;
    her enemies prosper,
  because the LORD has afflicted her
    for the multitude of her transgressions;
  her children have gone away,
    captives before the foe.
  From the daughter of Zion
    all her majesty has departed.
  Her princes have become like deer
    that find no pasture;
  they fled without strength
    before the pursuer.
  Jerusalem remembers
    in the days of her affliction and wandering
  all the precious things
    that were hers from days of old.
  When her people fell into the hand of the foe,
    and there was none to help her,
  her foes gloated over her;
    they mocked at her downfall.
  Jerusalem sinned grievously;
    therefore she became filthy;
  all who honored her despise her,
    for they have seen her nakedness;
  she herself groans
    and turns her face away.
  Her uncleanness was in her skirts;
    she took no thought of her future;
  therefore her fall is terrible;
    she has no comforter.
  “O LORD, behold my affliction,
    for the enemy has triumphed!”
  The enemy has stretched out his hands
    over all her precious things;
  for she has seen the nations
    enter her sanctuary,
  those whom you forbade
    to enter your congregation.
  All her people groan
    as they search for bread;
  they trade their treasures for food
    to revive their strength.
  “Look, O LORD, and see,
    for I am despised.”
  “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
    Look and see
  if there is any sorrow like my sorrow,
    which was brought upon me,
  which the LORD inflicted
    on the day of his fierce anger.
  “From on high he sent fire;
    into my bones he made it descend;
  he spread a net for my feet;
    he turned me back;
  he has left me stunned,
    faint all the day long.
  “My transgressions were bound into a yoke;
    by his hand they were fastened together;
  they were set upon my neck;
    he caused my strength to fail;
  the Lord gave me into the hands
    of those whom I cannot withstand.
  “The Lord rejected
    all my mighty men in my midst;
  he summoned an assembly against me
    to crush my young men;
  the Lord has trodden as in a winepress
    the virgin daughter of Judah.
  “For these things I weep;
    my eyes flow with tears;
  for a comforter is far from me,
    one to revive my spirit;
  my children are desolate,
    for the enemy has prevailed.”
  Zion stretches out her hands,
    but there is none to comfort her;
  the LORD has commanded against Jacob
    that his neighbors should be his foes;
  Jerusalem has become
    a filthy thing among them.
  “The LORD is in the right,
    for I have rebelled against his word;
  but hear, all you peoples,
    and see my suffering;
  my young women and my young men
    have gone into captivity.
  “I called to my lovers,
    but they deceived me;
  my priests and elders
    perished in the city,
  while they sought food
    to revive their strength.
  “Look, O LORD, for I am in distress;
    my stomach churns;
  my heart is wrung within me,
    because I have been very rebellious.
  In the street the sword bereaves;
    in the house it is like death.
  “They heard my groaning,
    yet there is no one to comfort me.
  All my enemies have heard of my trouble;
    they are glad that you have done it.
  You have brought the day you announced;
    now let them be as I am.
  “Let all their evildoing come before you,
    and deal with them
  as you have dealt with me
    because of all my transgressions;
  for my groans are many,
    and my heart is faint.”

(ESV)


Lamentations 1 Commentary

by Hank Workman

He’s known as the weeping prophet.

For 40 years Jeremiah served God faithfully with little to no success.  By the world’s standards, he was a failure.  He was poor and went under dire consequences for the message God had him deliver to Judah.  Thrown into prison, into a cistern, he was taken to Egypt against his will.  His friends and family rejected him.  He was instructed he could not marry.  He lived a lonely life.  On top of this kings and false prophets came out against him swinging again and again.

It is no wonder he’s known as the weeping prophet.  From his own eyes, nothing of his message had changed the ways of man.  That said, he never swayed from his calling.  A calling that came while in the womb.  A calling he had no choice in the matter over.  Through tears, hardship, and disappointment he continued to do exactly what God asked of him.

But these tears, although at times were for himself – usually were for the audience who rejected the voice of God.  God loved these people and they firmly set their faces against Him.  He had the Father heart of God and was moved by a fraction of the feelings God Himself felt.

What are the things that cause you to cry?  Where does your spirit mourn?  What are the aspects that bring about streams of tears?  Do you weep at times for yourself and things not going well or something that has afflicted your pride or do you cry for those who continue to reject the truth that sets people free?  Are your tears based on things you’ve lost or is it the reality that those who set themselves up against God will suffer consequences?

The book of Lamentations is short with simply 5 chapters that focus on one event:  the destruction of Jerusalem.  The book of Jeremiah predicted the things to come and Lamentations is almost like ‘the rest of the story’ as he looks back at all that happened.  Remarkably, had the people listened to Jeremiah it would have been different.  But in their stubbornness of pride and self-assurance, they bulldozed right on with their wants and now were in exile. This book is a dirge, a funeral song as Jerusalem lay in ruins.

It is said the book of Lamentations was read yearly as the people now found themselves in captivity, reminding them of destruction of their homeland due to their sinfulness.

The reality is our sin has consequences.  Always has.  Sure there are times in this lifetime sinfulness’ ramifications may not be seen – but eternity holds a different story.  But the draw of sin for each of us comes with chains.  Chains that take away our freedom and ruin lives.

“The yoke of my transgressions is bound;
By His hand they are knit together.
They have come upon my neck;
He has made my strength fail.
The Lord has given me into the hands
Of those against whom I am not able to stand.”

Lamentations 1:14

So often sinfulness seems to give this illusion of freedom.  We do what we want.  Pursue what we desire.  Unfortunately, this mirage breaks down something very significant.  It affects our minds and hearts with the concept we can do as we please and our desire grows to a no holds barred mentality.  What is not seen is the yoke of slavery becomes firmly placed upon our necks.  What we don’t feel are the chains of sin linking one after another as we become tethered to the lifestyle and hedonistic thought pattern.

Oh, we may seek freedom in various forms and various ways.  If found, many times though it is short-lived.  For true freedom comes from God only.  Yes, God gives us choices. Choices of freedom I suppose that can bring liberty.  But often as our hearts are so deceitful we often talk ourselves out of what is best.  But it is His freedom that sets us free indeed.  It is the renouncing of ourselves and following Him.  As odd as it may sound, God’s freedom comes from obedience.  Obedience to the right things, the right ways, the right living.


Lamentations 1 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

The mere existence of the book of Lamentations shows us that God takes seriously our need as humans to process and grieve. “In this world, you will have trouble… ” Jesus promised. Trouble comes in many various forms and often at inconvenient times.

In this book, we are reminded by Jeremiah that God can handle our strongest emotions. In fact, we could argue that in our “fix-it” modern-day culture, we rarely take time to mourn and grieve but instead rush directly into prayers that demand what needs to be done. As we look at the sweep of Scripture we see that God does not want us to tolerate or hide pain, but to face it. In order to face it, we must bring it before Him with authenticity. Easier said than done.

Providing hope amongst suffering is not easy or natural. Often our cliche phrases fall short of what is required to truly bring hope. The authenticity of Lamentations is where it really shines. It addresses pain to the fullest while also planting seeds of hope in order to move forward. This would be the case with the context as well since Jeremiah is writing on behalf of his people who have been taken into captivity. They needed to fully process their grief and their loss, but they also needed hope.

Here in Lamentations 1, there is significant grief over the spiritual loss that Judah has suffered. Like a woman stripped naked in public, Judah had been humiliated. The cost was brutal and the burden was heavy.  In a sense, a part of Judah had died. The complexity of her situation was that God had not only allowed for this, but He was also the only One to turn to for comfort. If we put this into practical terms we know that there is always a balance between shame and repentance. Just like Adam and Eve, they wanted to hide from God but they also knew He was the only one who could change their current situation.

This is how God uses suffering to draw us near. We question and wrestle, but we also come to realize that if God is in control, He is our only hope. Many Christians have found that their greatest struggle has brought the most significant spiritual growth.

The reality for us today is that no matter what we face, God has allowed it. Whether it’s a situation out of our control that seems completely unfair or a situation that was brought on by our choices, He is over everything. His desire is for us to face it in Him and through Him. There is no other way. That means repentance and restoration run down the same street. We can trust that in Him, all our needs will be met, even in our most severe hardships.

Come to Him in your mess believing that His presence is exactly what you need.

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