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Lamentations Chapter 1
Introduction to Lamentations Chapter 1.
Chapter 1 complains of the miseries of the city of Jerusalem, and the nation of the Jews; first by the Prophet Jeremiah, then by the Jewish people; and ends with a prayer of the people.
The prophet condemns the condition of the city, now uninhabited which had been full of people, which had ruled over others. Now it was in a very sad condition, and it was forsaken and badly used by her and her friends. These ‘friends’ now turned to be her enemies (Lam.1:1-2), and resulted in the state of the entire nation; being carried captive for their sins among the Heathens; having no rest, being overtaken by their persecutors (Lam.1:3); but what afflicted her most of all was the state of Zion. Her ways of mourning; her solemn feasts had been neglected; her gates deserted; her priests sighing, her virgins afflicted; her adversaries prosperous; her beauty gone; her Sabbaths mocked; her nakedness seen. All her pleasant things in the Sanctuary were seized by the enemy; and all this was because of her many transgressions, grievous sins of great pollution and vileness, which are confessed (Lam.1:4-11). Then the people themselves, or maybe the prophet representing them, lament their case, and call upon others to sympathize with them (Lam.1:12); seeing the sad desolation made by the Hand of the Almighty LORD upon them for their iniquities (Lam.1:13-15); because of which great sorrow is expressed; and their case is represented as all the more distressing, because they had no comforter (Lam.1:16-17). Then follows a prayer to the LORD God, in which His righteousness in doing so, or suffering from all this is acknowledged, and mercy is pleaded for themselves, and judgments on their enemies (Lam.1:18-22).
The first dirge. This Chapter, like Chapters two through four, is arranged as an alphabetic puzzling way. Each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet, one verse for each of the existing twenty-two letters.
Lam. 1:1 How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! KJV)
How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! . . . these are the words of Jeremiah; and began with the word how, not asking the reasons of this distress and ruin; but amazed and dazed at it; and pitying the sad case of the city of Jerusalem, which a short time ago had been very populated; besides those that came from other parts to see it, or trade there: and especially when the king of Babylon had invaded the land, which drove massive numbers to Jerusalem for safety; and which was the case afterwards when besieged by the Romans, and very possibly it was heavily populated when destroyed by the Chaldeans, who all perished through famine, pestilence and the sword; or were carried captive; or made their escape; so that the city, as was foretold it would, came to be without any inhabitants; and therefore is represented as sitting, which is the position of mourners; and as solitary or alone, like a menstruous woman in her separation, to which it is compared (Lam.1:17), or as a leper removed from the society of men, or as a woman deprived of her husband and children; as follows.
How is she become as a widow! . . . her king, that was her head and husband, being taken from her, and carried captive; and God, who was the Husband also of the Jewish people, having departed from them, and so left them in a state of being a widow.
She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! . . . she had ruled over many nations, having subdued them, and to whom they paid tribute, as the Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, and Edomites, in the times of David and Solomon; but since forced to pay tribute herself, first to Pharaohnecho, king of Egypt; then to the king of Babylon in the times of Jehoiakim; and last of all in the times of Zedekiah.
*****How or Alas! An exclamation of pain and grief; a wailing cry like the howl of a jackal or a wolf.
"How" used by Three Prophets:
(1). Moses, because of the heavy burden placed on him . . . having to bear the complaints of so many people. Deut. 1:12 How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? (KJV)
(2). Isaiah because of the wickedness and depravity of Judah and Jerusalem. Isa. 1:21 How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. (KJV)
(3). Jeremiah because of the total desolation and destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. Lam. 1:1 How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! KJV)
(A). How doth the city . . . the poem of Lam.1 is divided into two main parts: Lam. 1:1-11 describe the misery which had befallen the Jews (Lam. 1:12-22) show Jerusalem lamenting over her sufferings.
(B). Sit, in Lam. 1:1-2, Lam. 1:1-2 How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!
2 She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. (KJV) . . . We have a picture like the image appearing on the well-known medal to Titus, struck to celebrate his triumph over Jerusalem in A.D. 70. A woman sits weeping beneath a palm tree, and below it is the legend, Judea capta. She is become as a widow (Lam.1:2). A grief-stricken woman sitting in misery and poverty represented the common fate of countless widows in ancient times, and this was a fitting portrayal of the humiliation of the Chosen People.
(C). Solitary, alone, Jerusalem, that was full of people, now all people gone.
Thirty two Laments for Jerusalem
1. The city that was once full of people sits solitary (Lam. 1:1).
2. She has become a widow.
3. She used to be great among the nations.
4. She used to be a princess among the provinces.
5. She has now become a tributary.
6. She weeps far into the night (Lam. 1:2).
7. Her tears are on her cheeks.
8. There are no lovers to comfort her.
9. She has no friends, all were deceitful and dishonest with her.
10. They have become her enemies.
11. She has gone into captivity (Lam. 1:3).
12. She is greatly afflicted.
13. She has been in slavery to others.
14. She dwells among the heathen.
15. She has no rest in her captivity.
16. She has many persecutors.
17. Her solemn feasts are forsaken (Lam. 1:4).
18. Her gates are desolate.
19. Her priests sigh.
20. Her virgins are afflicted.
21. She sits in bitterness.
22. Her adversaries rule (Lam. 1:5).
23. Her enemies prosper.
24. She is afflicted by God.
25. Her children are taken into captivity.
26. Her once beauty has now departed (Lam. 1:6).
27. Her princes are like harts (deer) without pasture.
28. Their strength has gone and they cannot escape the hunter.
29. Sadly she remembers pleasant things while in her miseries (Lam. 1:7).
30. She remembered her fall into the hands of the enemy.
31. She had no one to help her.
32. The enemies saw her and mocked her Sabbaths.
Lam. 1:2 She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. (KJV)
She weepeth sore in the night . . . among all her lovers, her allies, her friends, instead of helping her, have helped her enemies. Several who wanted her friendship when she was prosperous in the time of David and Solomon, are now among her enemies. A night of affliction with her, which occasioned this sore weeping. Some think that it was in the night that the Temple was burned.
And her tears are on her cheeks . . . always there, always flowing, never entirely dried up; which show how great her grief was, and that her weeping was without a break; for tears do not lie long, but are soon dried up, or wiped off.
Among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her . . . as the Assyrians were before (Eze.23:5), and then later the Egyptians were her allies and confederates, in whom she trusted; but these gave her no assistance; nor did they give her any relief in her distress; not so much as one word of comfort spoken to her. Ps. 27:10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. (KJV) Only God can be trusted completely!
All her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies . . . those who pretended great friendship to her, and were in strict alliance with her, acted unfaithfully and withdrew from her, leaving her all alone to the common enemy; and not only that, but behaved towards her in a hostile manner. Some think
the lovers to be the idols she loved to follow, who now could be of absolutely no use to her by way of comfort.
Lam. 1:3 Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits. (KJV)
Judah is gone into captivity . . . not only Jerusalem, the capital of Judea was destroyed, but the whole country was ravaged, and the inhabitants of it carried captive into Babylon.
Because of affliction, and because of great servitude . . . because of their sins in oppressing and afflicting their poor brethren, and retaining them in a state of bondage after their seven years' servitude, opposing to the law of God; for which they were threatened with captivity. Jer. 34:17 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ye have not hearkened unto me, in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, and every man to his neighbour: behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the LORD, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine; and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. (KJV) The house of Judah went into captivity, because they afflicted the fatherless and the widows; and because of the slavery which they caused their brethren the children of Israel to serve, who were sold unto them; and they did not proclaim liberty to their servants and maidens, who were of the seed of Israel. Some understand this of the Jews who, to escape the affliction and servitude of the Chaldeans, went into a kind of voluntary captivity, fleeing to the countries of Moab, Ammon and Edom, during the siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans (Jer.40:11).
She dwelleth among the Heathen; the uncircumcised and the unclean . . . and was deprived of both her civil and religious liberties; having no chance of worshipping God, and enjoying Him, as before; which must have been a very uncomfortable life, especially to those who were truly gracious.
She findeth no rest . . . because of the hard service to which they subjected her;
she found no rest, being carried from place to place; nor any civil rest, being kept in hard bondage; nor spiritual rest, being deprived of the worship and ordinances of God; and being conscious of her sins, which had brought all this misery on her.
All her persecutors overtook her between the straits . . . having hunted her as men hunt wild beasts, and get them into some strait and difficult place, and then seize them.
Lam. 1:4 The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness. (KJV)
The ways of Zion do mourn . . . being unoccupied (Jud.5:6), or unfrequented: this is said by an affected figure; as ways (roads) may be said to rejoice, or look pleasant and cheerful, when there are many passengers in them, and they may be said to mourn, or to look dull and depressed, when no person is seen in them; therefore Jerusalem and the Temple being destroyed, the ways which led from the one to the other, and in which used to be seen great numbers going up to the worship of God, which was pleasant to behold (Ps.42:4), now no one was walking in them, and they were all overgrown with grass; and those roads which led from the several parts of the land to Jerusalem, where the ten tribes went up to worship three times in the year, and used to travel in companies, which made it pleasant and comfortable, and pleasing to look at, now none was to be seen upon them; which was a matter of grief to those that wished well to Zion; as it is to all truly righteous persons to observe that the ways and worship of God when they are not used.
Because none come to the solemn feasts . . . some understand this of the Temple itself; expressed by the word here used; and so called, because all Israel was convened here. Others interpret it of the feasts, the three solemn feasts of the Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, at which all the males in Israel were to appear; but now, the Temple and city being in ruins, none came to them, which was very distressing.
All her gates are desolate . . . the gates of the Temple; none passing through them into it to worship God, pray to Him, honor and praise Him, or offer sacrifice. It could also mean the gates of the city, none going to and fro in them; nor the elders sitting there in council, as in courts of judicature, to try causes, and do justice and judgment.
Her priests sigh . . . the Temple burned; altars destroyed, no sacrifices brought to be offered; and so no employment for them and therefore no bread. They were utterly deprived of their livelihood, and had good reason to sigh.
Her virgins are afflicted . . . are sorrowful, are in grief and mourning, which used to be lively and full of joy, and to play with timbrels at their festivals. The Targum paraphrases it, the virgins mourn because they cease to go out on the fifteenth of Ab, and on the Day of Atonement, which was the tenth of Tisri, to dance in the dances.
And she is in bitterness . . . meaning Zion; or the congregation of Israel in bitterness of spirit, in great affliction and distress (see verse 20).
Lam. 1:5 Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy. (KJV)
Her adversaries are the chief . . . or are the head, as was threatened. Deut. 28:44 He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail. (KJV) . . . now fulfilled; the Chaldeans having gotten dominion over the Jews, and forced them to be subject to them.
Her enemies prosper . . . in wealth and riches, in grandeur and glory; live in ease and serenity, enjoying all outward contentment and happiness; while Zion was in distress; which was an aggravation; yet this was righteous judgment because of their sins.
For the LORD hath afflicted her . . . the LORD is always righteous in all His ways. The Chaldeans were justinstruments used by the LORD, the evil that came upon them was from Almighty God, according to His will and righteous determination, as appears by what follows.
For the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy . . . the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea were carried captive by the enemy, and driven before them as a flock of sheep, and that was because of the sins of the nation; and these were not a few, but were very numerous, as Mordecai and Ezekiel, and others, who were carried captive young with Jeconiah, as well as many now. BEWARE, people of the USA!
Lam. 1:6 And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed: her princes are become like harts that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the pursuer. (KJV)
And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed . . . the kingdom removed; the priesthood ceased; the Temple, their beautiful House, burned; the palaces of their king and nobles demolished; and everything in church and state that was glorious were now no more.
Her princes are become like harts that find no pasture; that are heartless and without courage, fearful and timid, as deer are, especially when destitute of food. The Targum is, her princes run about for food, as harts run about in the wilderness, and find no place fit for pasture.
And they are gone without strength before the pursuer . . . having no spirit nor courage to oppose the enemy, nor strength to run from him, they fell into his hands, and so were carried captive (Jer.52:8). Pursuer means the full pursuit of the enemy, and the complete victory obtained by him.
Lam. 1:7 Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and none did help her: the adversaries saw her, and did mock at her sabbaths. (KJV)
Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her miseries . . . the inhabitants of Jerusalem, now that they are in affliction and misery, have time to remember their former mercies, and with how many desirable things God had once blessed them. She compares her former state before she fell into the enemies' hands, with her present state now she is in their power. It is a great affliction to them to hear her enemies mock her Sabbaths, which while they enjoyed they also sadly abused.
All her pleasant things that she had in the days of old . . . her civil and religious liberties; the Word, worship and ordinances of God; the Temple, altars and courts of the LORD; the ark of the testimony, the symbol of the divine Presence; and the revelation of the will of God by the prophets; their peace, prosperity, and enjoyment of all good things . . . all these many things they remembered in sorrow.
When her people fell into the hand of the enemy . . . the Chaldeans, into the hand of wicked King Nebuchadnezzar, and he sorely oppressed them.
And none did help her . . . not the Egyptians, nor her allies and confederates, in whom she trusted.
Her adversaries saw her, and did mock at her sabbaths . . . as the Heathens used to do; calling the Jews Sabbatarians, by way of scorn; representing them as an idle lazy people, who observed a seventh day merely out of laziness. They mocked them for keeping the Sabbath in vain. The enemies saw her when she went into captivity; and they mocked the good things which stopped out of the midst of her.
Lam. 1:8 Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward. (KJV)
Jerusalem hath grievously sinned . . . has sinned a great sin, the sin of idolatry, according to some; or of covenant breaking, as others; although no specific sin is stated, there were many grievous or serious sins; since she was guilty of a mass of them, as in verse 5.
Therefore she is removed . . . out of her own land, and carried captive into another: she being like as a leper removed from the society of men.
All that honoured her despise her . . . they that flattered her for her friendship and alliance in the time of her prosperity, as the Egyptians, now neglected her, and treated her with the utmost contempt.
Because they have seen her nakedness . . . being stripped of all good things she enjoyed before, both her weakness and her wickedness were exposed to public view. The reference is to modest women, when taken captive, whose nakedness is uncovered by the brutish and inhuman soldiers.
Yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward . . . being covered with shame, because of the sad way they treated her, as modest women will, being so used.
Lam. 1:9 Her filthiness is in her skirts; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: she had no comforter. O LORD, behold my affliction: for the enemy hath magnified himself. (KJV)
Her filthiness is in her skirts . . . the Targum, is the filthiness of the blood of her separation is in her skirts; she is not cleansed from it, nor does she repent of her sins.
She remembereth not her last end . . . she never considered in the time of her prosperity just what her sins would bring to her, even though she was warned by the prophet, and was told what things would come to at last, yet she did not take it to heart; nor did she lay it up in her mind, or reflect upon it; but went on in her sinful courses.
Therefore she came down wonderfully . . . from a very exalted estate to a very low one; from the height of honor and prosperity to the depth of distress and misery; to the astonishment and wonder of all about her, that such a flourishing city and kingdom could be brought to ruin all at once, in such a strange a way. Dan. 8:24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. (KJV)
She had no comforter . . . none to help her against her enemies (verse 7), nor to prevent her ruin; none to pity her, none to have compassion on her, and speak a comfortable word to her now she that she needed it.
O LORD, behold my affliction . . . not only with His eye of omniscience (all knowing), which He did, and of which she had no doubt; but with an eye of pity and compassion. So Zion is at once and suddenly introduced, breaking out in this pathetic way, being in great affliction and distress, having no one else to apply to; with the enemy bearing down hard upon her, and behaving in a very brazen and bold manner, transgressing all bounds of humanity and decency; and therefore hoped the LORD would have compassion on her, even though she had willingly sinned against Him.
For the enemy hath magnified himself . . . behaved arrogantly both against God and His people; ascribing great things to himself; magnifying his own power and wisdom.
Lam. 1:10 The adversary hath spread out his hand upon all her pleasant things: for she hath seen that the heathen entered into her sanctuary, whom thou didst command that they should not enter into thy congregation. (KJV)
The enemy hath spread out his hands on all her pleasant things . . . meaning not the wealth and riches, the goods and substance, or the rich furniture in their own houses; but the precious things in the House of God, the ark, the table, the altar, the priests garments, and vessels of the sanctuary, and the gifts of the Temple, and everything valuable in it; these the enemy stretched out his hands and seized, and claimed them as his own; took them as a booty, prey and plunder.
For she hath seen that the Heathen entered into her sanctuary . . . not into the land of Israel only, the Holy Land; but into the Temple, the Sanctuary of the LORD; but called hers, because it was built for her use, that the congregation of Israel might worship the LORD in it; into this with her own eyes, though forced to it, and sore against her will, and to her great grief and trouble, she saw the Chaldeans enter, and ravage and spoil it all.
Whom thou didst command that they should not enter into thy congregation . . . some interpret it of the Moabites and Ammonites again.
Lam. 1:11 All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul: see, O LORD, and consider; for I am become vile. (KJV)
All her people sigh . . . not only her priests (verse 4), but all the common people, because of their affliction, particularly for lack of bread.
They seek bread . . . to eat, inquire where it is to be had, but in vain.
They have given their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul . . . to cause the soul to return . . . and would give anything for food; parting with their rich clothes, jewels and precious stones; with whatever they had that was valuable, that they might have meat to keep from dying; to refresh and recruit their spirits spent with hunger.
See, O Lord, and consider; for I am become vile . . . mean, base, and contemptible, in the eyes of men, through poverty and lack of food; through affliction, and distress; and therefore longing that the LORD would consider her case, and look with pity and compassion on her.
Lam 1:12 Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger. (KJV)
Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? . . . all the strangers and travelers that pass by, see her distress, but it does not concern them, it does not affect them. They see her, but have no pity.
Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me . . . it is natural for everyone to think their own affliction is the greatest, and that no one has the time of grief and sorrow as they have; even though there is no affliction that befalls us that is common unto men (1 Cor.10:3); and when it is compared with others, it will possibly be lighter than theirs.
Wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me, in the day of his fierce anger . . . showing that her affliction was not a common one; for it was not only from the hand of man, but from the Hand of God; and not in the ordinary way of His wisdom; but was the effect of His righteous wrath and fury, in all the fierceness of it.
Lam 1:13 From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them: he hath spread a net for my feet, he hath turned me back: he hath made me desolate and faint all the day. (KJV)
From above hath he sent fire into my bones . . . by fire he means a judgment as consuming and as afflictive as fire in the bones, which had consumed the strength of the Jews. God alone rules over the fire; directs it and disposes of it, according to His sovereign will and pleasure, to the destruction of the strength of the Jewish nation.
And it prevails against them . . . a supernatural heat, which prevails against them, so that they are burnt like a hearth (Ps. 102:3), pained, wasted and dried away.
He hath spread a net for my feet . . . He hath spread a net for my feet; meaning God had brought them to a condition where they were trapped, and could not get out. The reference is to the taking of birds and wild beasts in nets; if God had not spread a net for the Jews, the Chaldeans could never have taken them (Eze.12:13). He hath turned me back . . . her feet being taken in the net, she could not go forward, but was forced to turn back, or continue into the net, not being able to remove her feet. The Targum is, he hath caused me to turn the back to mine enemies.
He hath made me desolate and faint all the day . . . the cities being without residents; the land uncultivated; the state in a sick and suffering condition; and which continued so to the end of the seventy years' captivity.
Lam 1:14 The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand: they are wreathed, and come up upon my neck: he hath made my strength to fall, the Lord hath delivered me into their hands, from whom I am not able to rise up. (KJV)
The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand . . . meaning the punishment of her sins was laid upon her by the LORD Himself; His Hand was in it; it came from Him; the Chaldeans were only instruments; and a heavy yoke this was. The Targum is, the yoke of my rebellions is made heavy by His Hand.
They are wreathed, and come upon my neck . . . or twisted together as lines to make a cord; or as several cords to make a rope; or as branches of trees or vines are entwined. The Targum is, they are twisted together as the branches of a vine.
It means the complication of judgments upon the Jewish nation for their sins, with which they were held as with cords; and which were like ropes about their necks, very heavy and distressing to them, and from which they could not deliver themselves.
He hath made my strength to fall . . . by the weight of punishment laid upon her, which she could not stand up under, but sunk and fell: this may be understood of her strong and mighty men; her men of valor and courage, who stumbled and fell.
The LORD hath delivered me into their hands, from whom I am not able to rise up . . . meaning the Chaldeans. The Jews went into the hands of those from whom, they were not able to stand. At last delivered from them, not by their own strength, but by the means of Cyrus the Persian conquering Babylon.
Lam. 1:15 The LORD hath trodden under foot all my mighty men in the midst of me: he hath called an assembly against me to crush my young men: the Lord hath trodden the virgin, the daughter of Judah, as in a winepress. (KJV)
The LORD hath trodden under foot all my mighty men in the midst of me . . . just as a road is trodden down; or as mire is trodden under foot in the streets; so were the mighty and valiant men, the soldiers and men of war, trodden under foot and destroyed by the Chaldeans in the streets of Jerusalem, and in the midst of Judea; because the LORD permitted it.
He hath called an assembly against me to crush my young men . . . the army of the Chaldeans, which were brought against Jerusalem by God’s command; against whom the choicest and stoutest of their young men, could not stand; but were crushed and broken to pieces by them. The word for assembly sometimes means an appointed time; a time fixed for solemn festivals, and for calling the people to them.
The LORD hath trodden the virgin, the daughter of Judah, as in a winepress . . . in the winepress of His wrath. This is compared to a winepress, into which the Jews fall, like grapes cast into a winepress, and there trodden by men, in order to squeeze and get out the juice to make wine . . ., in like fashion was their blood squeezed out of them and shed.
Lam 1:16 For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed. (KJV)
For these things I weep . . . the congregation of Judah, the godly among them, mainly Jeremiah, who represented them, wept for the sins the people had been guilty of, and for the punishment inflicted on them, the sore calamities that were brought upon them. The Targum goes into details, and paraphrases it so, for the little ones that are dashed in pieces, and for the women big with child, whose bellies are ripped up, the congregation of Israel saith, I weep.
Mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water . . . the doubling of the words seems to express the vehemence of her passion; the greatness of the grief she was overcome with. The Targum is, my both eyes flow with tears as a fountain of water.
Because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me . . . meaning God Himself, Who is the main Comforter of His people.
My children are desolate . . . those that should help and relieve her, and be a comfort to her, were destitute themselves: and were not able; which was the cause of her disconsolate state, as was Rachel's (Jer.31:15).
Because the enemy prevailed . . . over them and over her children; either putting them to death or carried them captive. Jerusalem is the speaker in this verse, weeping because she is far from God. Judah's weeping expresses Jeremiah's crying over his people.
Jer. 9:1 Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! (KJV)
Jer. 13:17 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD'S flock is carried away captive. (KJV)
Jer. 14:17 Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them; Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow. (KJV)
Lam. 1:17 Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her: the LORD hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries should be round about him: Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among them. (KJV)
Zion spreadeth forth her hands . . . either as submitting to the conqueror, and pleading for mercy or calling to her friends to help her. Jer. 4:31 For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth herself, that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers. (KJV)
And there is none to comfort her . . . to speak a word of comfort to her, or to help her in her trouble; her children are gone into captivity; her friends and lovers at a distance; and God Himself departed from her. (Verse 16).
The LORD hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries should be round about him . . . that he would be surrounded by enemies, and carried captive and would be in the midst of them in captivity. This was the decree and determination of Almighty God; and agreeably to it, he ordered it in His wisdom that the Chaldeans would come against him, encompass him and overcome him; and that because he had slighted and broken the commandments of the LORD; and so was justly dealt with, as is acknowledged in verse 18.
Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among them . . . considered filthy and unclean and abominable; but shunned, despised and hated. Just as the Jews separated from the Gentiles, and would not speak with them; so now, neither would the Chaldeans with the Jews; but treat them as the off casts of all things.
Prayer of the People to the LORD (Lam.1:18-22)
Lam. 1:18 The LORD is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandment: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow: my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity. (KJV)
The Lord is righteous . . . righteous is the LORD; in all these dispensations of His wisdom, no matter how afflictive and severe they may seem to be. The enemies of the church and people of God might transgress His bounds, and act the cruel and unrighteous; but good men will always know that God is always righteous in all His ways, and that there is absolutely NO unrighteousness in Him; even though they may not know how to reconcile His wisdom to His Promises, and especially to His declared love and affection to them; the reason, clearing God of all injustice, follows. Jer. 12:1 Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously? (KJV)
For I have rebelled against his commandment . . . or the Word of His Mouth, which He delivered by word of mouth at Mount Sinai, and by His prophets ever since; and so was righteously dealt with, and fairly chastised.
Hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow . . . directing herself to all compassionate persons, to hearken and attend to her mournful complaint, and to consider her sorrow, the nature and cause of it, and look on her with an eye of pity in her sorrowful conditions.
My virgins and my young men are gone into captivity . . . in Babylon; being taken and carried there by the Chaldeans. If it was not only her ancient men and women, persons worn out with age, that could have been of little use, the affliction would not have been so great; but it was her virgins and young men, the flower of the nation, by whom it might have been supported and increased; for these to be carried away into a strange land was indeed a matter of grief and sorrow.
*****I have rebelled . . . The sure sign of repentance is when a person acknowledges that he is wrong and God is right. Neh. 9:33 Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly: (KJV) Ps. 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. (KJV) Also see Daniel 9:7-14.
The fact that she is calling on other people to examine her plight shows that an excuse was being given. In other words, Judah is saying, "I was wrong, but look what has happened," as if the punishment did not fit the crime. People then and now, rarely consider the end result of their disobedience to the LORD.
Lam. 1:19 I called for my lovers, but they deceived me: my priests and mine elders gave up the ghost in the city, while they sought their meat to relieve their souls. (KJV)
I called for my lovers, but they deceived me . . . meaning either her idols, with whom she had committed spiritual adultery . . . for these could not answer her hopes and help her: nor could the Egyptians, that courted her friendship, and with whom she was in alliance and in whom she trusted. These, in the times of her distress, she called upon to help her, but they disappointed her, and did not stand up to their covenant and promises, but left her to stand and fall by herself.
My priests and mine elders gave up the ghost in the city . . . died in the city of Jerusalem; not by the sword of the enemy, but by famine . . . and if this was the case of their priests that presided in holy things, and of their elders or civil magistrates, the case of the common people was much worse.
While they sought their meat to relieve their souls . . . they were fainting and dying from hunger; dying while they were begged for bread, or asking in one place after another where they could get any for money, willing to part with their riches for bread. Judah was completely helpless; neither allies from abroad nor leaders from within the nation were able to deliver her.
Lam. 1:20 Behold, O LORD; for I am in distress: my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me; for I have grievously rebelled: abroad the sword bereaveth, at home there is as death. (KJV)
Behold, O Lord, for I am in distress . . . she turns from one to another; sometimes she addresses strangers, people that pass by; sometimes she calls to her lovers; and at other times to God, which is best of all, to have pity and compassion on her in her distress; and from whom it may be most expected, for He is a God of grace and mercy.
My bowels are troubled . . . as the sea, agitated by winds, which casts up mire and dirt; or as any waters, moved by anything, become thick and muddy; this expresses great disturbance, confusion, and uneasiness.
Mine heart is turned within me . . . has no rest nor peace.
For I have grievously rebelled . . . rebelled against the LORD God and His Word. Her sins were indeed serious, and these lay heavy on her mind and conscience, and greatly distressing her. BEWARE dear one, do not rebel against the LORD! You will regret it!
Abroad the sword bereaveth . . . this, and what follows in the next clause, describe the state and condition of the Jews, while the city was besieged; outside the city, the sword of the Chaldeans bereaved mothers of their children, and children of their parents, and left them desolate.
At home there is as death . . . there is little advantage to either of the alternatives.
Deut. 32:25 The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs. (KJV)
Eze. 7:15 The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him. (KJV) . . . although death by the sword was usually quicker than death by starvation. 2 Ki. 25:3 And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land. (KJV) Jer. 14:18 If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not. (KJV)
Jer. 52:6 And in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land. (KJV)
Within the city, the famine raged, which was as death, and worse than instant death. It was a lingering one and it was certain death.
Lam 1:21 They have heard that I sigh: there is none to comfort me: all mine enemies have heard of my trouble; they are glad that thou hast done it: thou wilt bring the day that thou hast called, and they shall be like unto me. (KJV)
They have heard that I sigh: there is none to comfort me . . . meaning the neighboring nations, those that were her confederates and allies; her lovers, these being near her, knew her sorrow and distress, for they were within hearing distance of her sighs and groans; yet none offered to help her, nor so much as to speak a kind or comfortable word to her.
All mine enemies have heard of my trouble . . . not only her friends, but her enemies; meaning the Tyrians, Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites, and as the following description of them shows; for it must mean others than the Chaldeans, that were the immediate cause of it.
They are glad that thou hast done it . . . brought all this ruin and destruction on Jerusalem, which could never have been done, if the LORD had not permitted it; and at this the above mentioned nations rejoiced (Eze.25:3).
Thou wilt bring the day that thou hast called . . . the time of the destruction, the Chaldeans, who had the main hand in the ruin of the Jewish nation, and of those that rejoiced at it; which time was fixed by the LORD, and proclaimed and published by His prophets, and would certainly and exactly come, just as it was pointed out, and when.
And they shall be like unto me . . . in the same distressed, desolate and sorrowful condition, being brought to ruin and destruction; which afterwards was the case of the Chaldeans and all the other nations.
Lam. 1:22 Let all their wickedness come before thee; and do unto them, as thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions: for my sighs are many, and my heart is faint. (KJV)
Let all their wickedness come before thee . . . this seems to refer to present time, at least to the time fixed by the LORD for their ruin; and which the church curses, not from a spirit of revenge, but from a holy zeal for the glory of God; desiring that the wickedness of her enemies might be remembered by the LORD, so as to punish them in righteous judgment.
And do unto them as thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions . . . she owns that what was done to her was for her sins, and therefore could not charge God with injustice; only she desires the same might be done to her enemies, who were equally guilty.
For my sighs are many, and my heart is faint . . . her sighs were many because of her afflictions, and her heart faint because of her sighing.
*****This verse is another prophetical curse, several of which we meet with in the Holy Word (Ps.109:6-9; 137:8; Jer.11:20: 18:23), and in many other texts; which would make us to think that our Saviour's teaching, to pray for those that persecute us, backed by His own example (Lk.23:34), and Stephen's (Ac.7:60), is either to be interpreted of praying for the forgiveness of their sins, for we should not want the eternal condemnation of no one.
Do unto them, as thou hast done unto me . . . to demand God's wrath on one's enemies is the expected human response. But our LORD taught that His followers should love their enemies and pray for their persecutors. May we all be wise.
Mat. 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (KJV)
Book of Lamentations
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