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Lamentations Chapter 3
Introduction to Lamentations 3
This chapter is a complaint and lamentation like Chapter 2, and on the same subject, but here, Jeremiah mixes his own afflictions and distresses with the public calamities; or he may be representing the church in her complaints; and some have thought him to be a type of Christ throughout the whole Chapter; to whom different things may be applied. It is certainly written in a different form from the other Chapters, in another way; and though it is an alphabetical manner as the rest, yet here, the difference is that three verses together begin with the same letter; so that the alphabet is gone through three times in it. First we see a complaint of the afflictions of the prophet, and of the people, expressed by a rod, by darkness, by wormwood and gall, and many other things; and especially by the LORD'S appearing against them as an enemy, in a most severe and terrible way; shutting out their prayer; being as a bear and lion to them; and giving them up to the cruelty and scorn of their enemies (Lam.3:1); then follows some comfort taken by them, from the mercy, faithfulness and goodness of God; from the help of patience in bearing afflictions; and from the end of God in laying them upon men; and from the wisdom of God, by which all things are ordered (Lam.3:22); so, instead of complaining, it would be better to examine their ways, and repent, and of prayer (Lam.3:39); and a particular prayer is directed to, in which confession of sin is made, and their miseries condemned, by reason of the hiding of God's Face, and the insults of their enemies (Lam.3:42); and then the prophet expresses his sympathy with his people under affliction, and declares what he himself met with from his enemies (Lam.3:48); and relates how he called upon the LORD, and He heard and delivered him (Lam.3:55); and ends with a request that he would judge his cause, and avenge him on enemies (Lam.3:59).
Each one of the chapters in the Book of Lamentations forms an acrostic (a poem, word puzzle, or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words). There are twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and each of the twenty-two verses in each chapter begins with the succeeding letter. But in this Chapter there are sixty-six verses, which means that there are three verses that begin with each letter of the alphabet, so 66 verses.
Lam. 3:1 I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. (KJV)
I am the man that hath seen affliction . . . Jeremiah had much experience of affliction, especially since he had been a prophet; being reproached and sadly treated by his own people, and suffering with them in their calamities; especially since his affliction was greater than the other prophets, who had prophesied of the destruction of the city and Temple, but did not see it; whereas Jeremiah lived to see it. He was certainly not the only man that endured affliction, but was remarkable in his afflictions; he had a large share of them, and was in this a type of Christ, Who was a Man of sorrows (Isa.53:3), and well acquainted with grief.
By the rod of his wrath . . . by the rod of the wrath of God. God's chastisements of His own people are in love, although thought at times by them to be in wrath and hot displeasure; as the prophet imagined, but it was not so. Some regard may be had to the instrument of Jerusalem's destruction, the king of Babylon, called the rod of the LORD'S anger (Isa.10:5); all this was true of Christ, as the surety of His people, and as sustaining their persons, and standing in their room.
Lam. 3:2 He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. (KJV)
He hath led me, and brought me into darkness . . . darkness often means distress, calamity and affliction of one kind or another . . . thus the Jews were brought into the darkness of captivity; Jeremiah to the darkness of a dungeon, to which there may be a reference; and Christ his antitype was under the hidings of God's Face; and at the same time there was darkness all around the prophet, and all over the land; and all this is credited to God; for it was by His appointment, and by His direction and permission.
But not into light . . . prosperity and joy; for the affliction still continued; even though God does in His due time, always brings His people to the light of comfort, and His gracious Presence, as He did both the LORD Jesus and Jeremiah. Ps. 7:11 Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. (KJV)
Lam. 3:3 Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day. (KJV)
Surely against me is he turned . . . as an enemy, who used to be a friend; He has so altered and changed the course of His wisdom, as if His favor and affections were entirely removed; He has planted His weapons against me, and made me the bullseye of His arrows.
He turneth his hand against me all the day . . . to hit with one blow after another, continually, without ceasing; so too the hand of justice was turned upon Christ, as the Surety of His people, and He was smitten and stricken of God (Isa.53:4); while the hand of grace and mercy was turned upon them. Zec. 13:7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. (KJV)
Lam. 3:4 My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. (KJV)
My flesh and my skin hath he made old . . . His flesh with blows, and His skin with beating, Christ’s flesh was so emaciated, and his skin so withered and wrinkled, that He looked like an old man; as was our LORD, when He was little more than thirty years old, but because of His sorrows and troubles, He looked like one about fifty.
He hath broken my bones . . . meaning His strength was greatly weakened, which lay in His Bones; and He could not help Himself, any more than a man whose bones are broken; and was in as much pain and distress as if this had been the case.
Lam 3:5 He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail. (KJV)
He hath builded against me . . . as when forts were raised by the Chaldeans against the city of Jerusalem, in which the prophet was.
And compassed me with gall and travail . . . the same with gall and wormwood (verse 19). The sense is, he was surrounded with sorrow, affliction and misery, which were as disagreeable as gall; or like poison that drank up his spirits, and made him weary of his life. So too, our LORD was beyond sorrowful, even unto death; encompassed with sorrows. Mat. 26:38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. (KJV)
Lam. 3:6 He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old. (KJV)
He hath set me in dark places . . . in the dark dungeon where the prophet was put; or the captivity in which the Jews were, and which was like the dark grave or state of the dead; and so they are said to be in their graves (Eze.37:12). Christ was literally laid in the dark grave (Lk.24:53).
As they that be dead of old . . . that have been long dead, and are forgotten, as if they had never been (Ps.88:5); or, as the dead of the world, who are spiritually dead. . . . . . . http://hisservants.org/death_then_what_1.1.htm
Lam. 3:7 He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy. (KJV)
He hath hedged me about, that I cannot go out . . . when in the dungeon, or during the siege of Jerusalem; although the phrase may only mean in general the greatness of his troubles, with which he was encompassed, and how complicated they were; like a wall around a city, which could not be gotten over easily.
He hath made my chain heavy . . . Jeremiah’s affliction seemed unbearable. This is a symbol taken from offenders that have heavy chains put on their legs, that they may not make their escape out of prison.
Lam. 3:8 Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. (KJV)
Also when I cry and shout . . . cry, because of the distress of the enemy within; shout for help from others; as persons in a prison do, to make them hear and pity them: so the prophet in his affliction cried aloud to God; was fervent, earnest, and persistent in prayer; and yet seemed not to be heard.
He shutteth out my prayer . . . shut the door, as the door is sometimes shut on beggars, that their cry may not be heard. The phrase seemingly disregards the prayer of the prophet, or of the people; and the LORD shutting his ears against it, as was the Messiah's case. Ps. 22:2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. (KJV)
Lam. 3:9 He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked. (KJV)
He hath enclosed my ways with hewn stone . . . not with a hedge of thorns, or mud walls, but with a fence of stones; and these not rough, and laid loosely together, but hewn and put in order, and well cemented. This may refer to the case of the prophet in prison, and in the dungeon, and in Jerusalem, when besieged; or in general his afflictive state, from where he had no prospect of being delivered; or the state of the Jews in captivity, from which there was no likelihood of a release.
He hath made my paths crooked . . . or perverted my ways so that I could not find my way out, and when I tried it; I got into a way which led me wrong. Everything was against me, and all my actions were confused, and my plans defeated. Not one step I took did any good.
Lam. 3:10 He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. (KJV)
He was unto me as a bear lying in wait . . . for its prey, which seizes on it quickly and tears it in pieces; such were the Chaldeans to the Jews by God’s permission.
And as a lion in secret places . . . lurking there, in order to take every opportunity and advantage, and fall upon any creature that comes that way. The same thing is meant here as before. Amos 5:19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. (KJV)
Lam. 3:11 He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. (KJV)
He hath turned aside my ways . . . caused me to depart or go back from the way I was in, and so fall into the hand of the enemy that lay in wait. Hos. 2:6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. (KJV)
And pulled me in pieces . . . as any creature that falls into the hands of a bear or lion. Some say it indicates breaking off of branches of trees, and throwing them in the way to hinder passengers from travelling.
He hath made me desolate . . . or brought me into ruin and destruction, as the Jews were in Babylon.
Lam. 3:12 He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. (KJV)
He hath bent his bow . . . his bow is put for all the weapons of war; the Chaldeans were archers, and shot their arrows into the city:
And set me as a mark for the arrow . . . as a target to shoot at; indicating that God dealt with him, or His people as enemies, the object of His wrath and indignation; and if He directed His arrow against them, it would hit them; there was no escaping His vengeance (Job 7:20).
Lam. 3:13 He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins. (KJV)
He hath caused the arrows of his quiver . . . the judgments of God are often indicated by this symbol, even His four sore ones: sword, famine, pestilence and noisome beast (Deu.32:23), these say the prophet, He caused,
To enter into my reins . . . meaning into the midst of his land and people, or into the city of Jerusalem; or these affected his mind and heart as if many arrows had stuck in him, the poison of which drank up his spirits (Job 6:4).
Lam. 3:14 I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day. (KJV)
I was a derision to all my people . . . so Jeremiah was scorned by the Jews, and especially to his townsmen, the men of Anathoth (Jer.20:7). But if he represents the body of the people, others must be intended; for they could not be a derision to themselves. All the people around them, the Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites, laughed at their destruction; although some interpret it of the wicked among the Jews, to whom the godly were a mockery.
And their song all the day . . . beating on their tabrets, and striking their harps, for joy. This signifies not vocal, but instrumental music; of such usage of the Messiah.
Ps. 69:12 They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards. (KJV)
Lam. 3:15 He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. (KJV)
He hath filled me with bitterness . . . the reference is to the bitter herbs eaten at the Passover, and signify bitter afflictions, sore calamities, of which the prophet and his people had their fill (Job 29:14).
He hath made me drunken with wormwood . . . wormwood drink; but wormwood is a wholesome one, although bitter, some think that henbane, or wolfsbane, is meant, which is of a poisonous and intoxicating nature; it is no unusual thing for persons to be represented as drunk with affliction.
Lam. 3:16 He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. (KJV)
He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones . . . gritty bread, bread that has little stones mixed with it, by eating it the teeth are broken or referring to the grit that often mixes with bread baked in ashes, as is the custom of baking in the East.
This means afflictions and troubles, which are very grievous and disagreeable, like gravel in the mouth, as sin in its effects often proves (Pro.20:17).
He hath covered me with ashes . . . as mourners would do; some render it, he hath defiled me or he hath humbled me. Another is he hath fed me with ashes; which best agrees with the preceding clause. Ps. 102:9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping, (KJV)
Lam. 3:17 And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. (KJV)
And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace . . . from the time the city was besieged by the Chaldeans, and now the people were carried captive; who could have no true peace, being in a foreign land, an enemy's country, and out of their own, and far from the place of worship of the LORD. The prophet had no peace, in the consideration of these things, the city, Temple and nation, being desolate, even though he himself was not in captivity.
I forgat prosperity . . . he had been so long from any enjoyment, that he had forgotten what it was like, and it seemed he would never have joy again.
Lam. 3:18 And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: (KJV)
And I said, my strength and my hope are perished from the LORD . . . strength means my standing, my subsistence, my continuance in being, or my perpetuity; according to another, my abiding. It is rendered blood in: Isa. 63:3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. (KJV) . . . For blood is the support of life; and which when gone, or ceases to circulate, a man ceases to be. It seems that the prophet, or those he represents, looked upon themselves as dead men, or at least of a short continuance; their natural strength being drained, and they must quickly die, and had no hope of living, or of enjoying the divine favor, or good things, at the Hand of God. Some understand it of spiritual strength to do good, and of hope of having good things, or deliverance from the Hand of God, which they were despairing of; for the words are the language of despondency, and betray great, weakness and infirmity; for in the LORD is everlasting strength, and He is the hope of His people, and the Saviour of them in time of trouble (Isa.26:4).
Lam. 3:19 Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. (KJV)
Remembering mine affliction and my misery . . . the miserable affliction of Jeremiah and his people. Some think that the words may be considered as a request to God, and so they could be; because the prophet, and the people he represents, were not so far gone into despair, as to cast off all prayer before God; but once more looked up to Him, begging that He would, in his great mercy and pity, remember them in their distressed condition, and deliver them out of it; for no one could do it by himself.
The wormwood and the gall . . . symbolic expressions of bitter and grievous afflictions (verse 5).
Lam. 3:20 My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. (KJV)
My soul hath them still in remembrance . . . affliction and misery, compared to wormwood and gall. The words, my soul, are gotten from the next clause, where they should be, and this, some say, is to be rendered, in remembering thou wilt or, thou wilt surely remember, and expresses the confidence of the prophet, and his firm belief, his faith and hope increasing in prayer, that God would in much mercy remember His people, and their afflictions, and save them out of them.
And is humbled in me . . . and my soul is humbled in me . . . under the afflicting Hand of God, and in view and hope of His mercy.
Lam. 3:21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. (KJV)
This I recall to my mind . . . not affliction and misery, but the gracious LORD'S remembrance of His people; what He used to do, and would do again; and above all, the abundant mercy of God, and His great faithfulness; these things the prophet brought back to his mind; and revolved them in his heart;
And therefore have I hope . . . his hope is now revived, which he was ready to say was perished from the LORD. It had seemed there was no grounds for it; but now he saw there was, and took heart, encouraging himself in the grace and mercy of God.
Lam. 3:22 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. (KJV)
It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed . . . being thus humbled, and seeing himself and his sinfulness in a proper point of view, the prophet finds that God, instead of dealing with him in judgment, has dealt with him in mercy; and that although the affliction was excessive, yet it was less than his iniquity deserved.
Because his compassions fail not . . . or His tender mercies, of which He is full, and which are bestowed in a free and sovereign way, and are the spring of all good things, and never fail, this is another reason why the LORD'S people are not consumed, and never shall be, because of the mercies of the LORD. Ps. 103:17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; (KJV) . . . If any sinner be kept out of Hell, it is because God's compassions faileth not.
Lam. 3:23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (KJV)
They are new every morning . . . the tender mercies or compassions of God are always fresh and vigorous, continuous and everlasting; just as the love, grace and mercy of God are, and though of old, yet they are daily renewed in their displays, and which give morning a spiritual light, joy and comfort; and whenever it is morning with the saints, they have the love of God with them; and these certainly are a bright morning to them, a morning without clouds.
Great is thy faithfulness . . . God’s faithfulness is a great grace, and is the gift of God, the operation of His Spirit, and to exercise it is a great thing. Great is His Promise, and a great thing it is to believe in Him, knowing that it shall be performed, and that He will keep what He has promised to us.
Lam. 3:24 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. (KJV)
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul . . . the prophet, or the church, whom he represents, rises and increases in the exercise of faith; when considering the mercies, compassions and faithfulness of God, and ends with a sure and firm interest in Him, as a portion and inheritance. The LORD is the portion of His people in life and in death, in time and in eternity. All He is and has, is theirs; they are heirs of Him, and shall enjoy Him forever . . . therefore they shall not be consumed. Ps. 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. (KJV)
Therefore will I hope in him . . . for deliverance from all evils and enemies; for present supplies of grace; and for the enjoyment of future glory and happiness.
Lam. 3:25 The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. (KJV)
The LORD is good to them that wait for him . . . for the enjoyment of Him as their portion in this world, and in that to come; for His Presence here and hereafter. They that wait for Him shall never be ashamed or disappointed of what they expect; they shall renew their spiritual strength, and grow stronger and stronger; they shall inherit the earth, the new heavens and the new earth; enjoy many blessings now, and have good things laid up for them hereafter (Isa.49:23). Eye has not seen, nor ear heard (I Cor.2:9). Possibly some respect may be had to the Coming of Christ in the flesh (Jn.1:14), which the saints then expected, and were waiting for in faith and hope; to whom the LORD was good and gracious in due time, by performing the mercy promised them. Isa. 25:9 And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (KJV)
To the soul that seeketh him . . . that seeks Him correctly in faith; that seeks Him by prayer; that seeks Him in His House and ordinances, where He is to be found; that seeks Him early, and above all other things; that seeks Him sincerely, with the whole heart, spirit and soul (Heb.412); that seeks His Face, His favor, and grace, and all in Christ, through whom all are to be enjoyed. God is good to such souls;
He is a Rewarder of them in a way of grace; with Himself, being with Him; with His Spirit and His graces, and with eternal glory and happiness. The LORD never forsakes them, nor the work of His Hand in them, and they shall live spiritually and eternally (Heb.11:16). Dear one, anyone shall find what they seek for, IF they seek Christ, His grace and eternal life in Heaven . . . or the eternal fires of Hell if you walk the broad road with the devil (Mat.7:13-14).
Lam. 3:26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. (KJV)
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait . . . be in silence as verse 28. Ps. 39:2 I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. (KJV) . . . meaning to be patiently quiet under afflictions, resting in the will of God
For the salvation of the LORD . . . quietly wait means to patiently bear affliction, waiting for God to act and to accept His will even in suffering (Ps.37:7; 39:2,9).
Lam. 3:27 It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. (KJV)
It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth . . . either the yoke of the commandments or of correction, of afflictions, as fatherly chastisements. It is good to bear the yoke of the moral law, or the commandments of God, as they are in the Hands of Christ, a rule of walk and conversation; a yoke helpful to all mankind, and especially saints. It is the duty of all to submit their necks to this yoke; it is only their reasonable service to love the LORD their God, and their neighbor. Mat. 22:37-40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (KJV)
*****There is a close connection between a profession of faith in Christ, and submission to His ordinances, and suffering reproach and persecution for His Name. It is good for a man to bear the one, as well as the other, in his youth; for this will help keep him humble, and keep pride away from him, which youth are addicted to. It is good to wean him from the world, the lusts and pleasures of it, which are rampant to ensnare at that age; to prevent many sins and evils which they might be tempted to go into; and to harden them to hardships, and make them good soldiers of Christ.
Lam. 3:28 He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. (KJV)
He sitteth alone . . . retires from the world, and the men of it, who takes upon him the yoke of Christ; although he is not alone, for God the Father, Son and Spirit are with him. He is also with the saints and has communion with them; and so when he is under the afflicting Hand of God, he bears it patiently, not running from place to place complaining, but sits still, and considers the cause and end of it. Mat. 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (KJV)
And keepeth silence, because he hath borne it on him . . . because he took it upon him willingly, and therefore should bear it patiently; or because God hath put it upon him and therefore he should be silent, not murmur and repine, since he hath done it (Ps.39:9).
Lam. 3:29 He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. (KJV)
He putteth his mouth in the dust . . . in bowing, face to the ground, submission shown toward the acts of God; it signifies that God's judgments are accepted as just and loving punishment for sin (Job 42:6).
If so be there may be hope . . . this hope does not come from lying in the dust, but from the attitude of repentance which must precede the action, and realizing that God is faithful to His Covenant (Verses 22,23).
Lam 3:30 He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. (KJV)
He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him . . . either to God that afflicts him, and patiently bears it (Isa.9:13); or to men. To be smitten on the cheek is always counted a very great insult; to turn the cheek to a harmful man is to give him a chance to hit, and means the taking of it patiently, and agrees both with our LORD'S advice and example (Mat.5:39).
He is filled full with reproach . . . Christ is the best example; He tolerated abuse, even though it was undeserved. Many people patiently bear what God does to them, but become angry when men wrong them. Those who truly want to follow Jesus’ example, understand that God sometimes uses the wrongs of others as punishment for his sins (Ps.17:13). Christ suffered many reproaches, and the reproaches of many upon Him; and those of us that take Christ's yoke upon them; must be like Him and revile not again, but esteem reproaches for Christ's sake great riches, and wear them as crowns, and bind them about their necks as chains of gold; prizing it an honor and a happiness to suffer shame for His Name.
Mat. 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (KJV)
Lam. 3:31 For the LORD will not cast off for ever: (KJV)
For the LORD will not cast off for ever . . . the prophet acknowledges that God's judgment is not a permanent matter. In the days of Moses, God had warned that sin would lead to a separation from the land of promise, but sincere repentance would result in a reestablishment of the nation in Israel (Deut.4:25-31).
***** For the LORD will not cast off for ever . . . this is not to be understood of all His creatures; for there are some He does cast off forever, as the angels that sinned; reprobate men, wasteful and abandoned sinners, that live and die impenitent; and unbelievers, carnal professors, and apostates . . . but not His own special people, the people whom He has foreknown and loved with an everlasting love, His spiritual Israel. Ps. 94:14 For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance. (KJV) . . . He may seem for a while to reject them, but in reality, not forever; as when He hides His Face (Deut.32:24; Eze.29:29) from them, lays His afflicting hand on them, or allows them to be afflicted by others, and holds back His help, and does not immediately appear to their deliverance and salvation. In reality He NEVER rejects them from being His people, His servants and His sons; they have always a place in His Heart, and are always under His watchful eye and care. Gal. 3:26-29 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (KJV) . . . Believing Gentiles are His children too!
Lam. 3:32 But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. (KJV)
But though he cause grief . . . as He sometimes does to His own people; by convincing them of sin, and producing in them godly sorrow, which works by repentance unto life. He corrects and chastises them for it, and by hiding His Face from them; which is indeed grievous to them.
Yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies . . . the punishment of the godly man will last only for a short time because of God's compassion, which stems from His covenant love. His mercies are many, both temporal and spiritual, and His love and compassion are always there; which He shows to His people by His pardoning grace, through the Blood of Christ.
Lam. 3:33 For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. (KJV)
For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. . . God does not punish anyone randomly, when He punishes, there is a reason. Eze. 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the LORD GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (KJV) Heb. 12:10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (KJV)
Lam. 3:34 To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth, (KJV)
To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth . . . having seen that God is fair in judgment and His wrath is not permanent, the lament turns to Israel's oppressors. Since God does not approve of oppression in any form, He can be counted on to deliver them from their present dilemma. Prisoners of the earth . . .this might be the Jews in captivity, or all humanity who groan under sin's burden.
Rom. 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (KJV)
Lam. 3:35 To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High, (KJV)
To turn aside the right of a man . . . to cause judgment to go to the wrong side; to give cause against a man, to give a wrong sentence; this is disapproved of by the LORD, and forbidden by Him.
Before the face of the most High . . . God does not approve of the perversion of justice. Ecc. 5:8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they. (KJV)
Lam 3:36 To subvert a man in his cause, the LORD approveth not. (KJV)
To subvert a man in his cause . . . subvert = to wrong a poor man by methods taken in an open court, by secret underhand ways, to injure him in his property.
The LORD approveth not . . . some understand this as spoken by wicked men, who do the above things, and flatter themselves that God not see. Dear one, He does see and takes notice of them. Hab. 1:13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he? (KJV)
Lam. 3:37 Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the LORD commandeth it not? (KJV)
Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass? . . . the permission and the will of God are required for ANYTHING to happen in this world. For by His will and His Word, the world was created (Ps.33:9).
When the LORD commandeth it not? . . . the Targum is, who is the man that saith, and evil is done in the world; but because they have done what was not commanded from the mouth of the LORD?
Lam. 3:38 Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? (KJV)
Out of the mouth of the most High proceed not evil and good? . . . indeed they do; they come to pass, both evil and the good, anything that God has pronounced, and His will determined. Evil and good . . . calamity and success alike proceed from God. Job 2:10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. (KJV) Isa. 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (KJV) Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? (KJV)
Lam. 3:39 Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? (KJV)
Wherefore doth a living man complain? . . . or murmur, or fret and vex, or bemoan himself. And so having a time yet given him by God for repentance. If sin were punished as it deserves, life itself would be forfeited by the sinner. Complaining, murmuring, ill becomes him who enjoys such a favor as life (Pro.19:3).
Instead of blaming God for his sufferings, he should recognize in them God's righteousness and the just rewards of his own sin.
A man for the punishment of his sins? . . . if a man is a wicked man, and is punished for his sins, no injustice is done him; he has no reason to complain; and especially of his punishment in this world, which is so much less than his sins deserve (Ezra 9:13); and if he is a good man, and is chastised for his sins, he should not complain because of the chastisement of them; since it is the chastisement of a Father, and is in love and for his good.
Lam. 3:40 Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. (KJV)
Let us search and try our ways . . . instead of murmuring and complaining, let us search for something that will support and comfort, teach and instruct us. Let us search the love of God, which, even though it cannot be fully searched, it will be found to be from everlasting to everlasting; and that all afflictions spring from it. Let us search the amazing grace of God, in which provision is made for afflictions in case of disobedience, and for supports from it. Let us search the Scriptures, which are written for our comfort.
And turn again to the LORD . . . by repentance, let us turn out of our sinful ways, as we search and examination them; and turn to the LORD, His ways and His worship, from whom we have departed, and against whom we have sinned. Let us acknowledge our iniquities, for the LORD is gracious and ready to forgive, and does abundantly pardon.
*****Self-examination in the middle of a national calamity is required before repentance can occur. We must try our ways, and turn to the LORD. Instead of feeling that the punishment was more than they could bear, they needed to accept it as correction from God and then be restored to Him.
2 Cor. 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (KJV) Gal. 6:4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. (KJV)
Lam. 3:41 Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. (KJV)
Let us lift up our heart with our hands . . . lifting up of the hands is a prayer gesture, and is put for prayer itself. Ps. 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. (KJV)
Unto God in the heavens . . . God is not interested in a mere gesture associated with prayer without the right contrition of the heart. Ps. 51:16-17 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (KJV)
Lam. 3:42 We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned. (KJV)
We have transgressed, and have rebelled . . . the prayer begins with confession of sin, as prayer should, especially when in such circumstances as the people of the Jews were now. Confession of sin, as a transgression of the law of God; and as rebellion against Him, as every sin is, is a breach of His Law, contempt of His authority, and trampling under foot His judicial power, and is an act of hostility against Him; so it is downright rebellion.
Thou hast not pardoned . . . as Israel had admitted wrong, an instant correction of Israel's national woes was expected. But Israel's and then Judah's demise came after centuries of sin. And their punishment could not be so quickly reversed. Often it is needed to be certain that repentance is genuine.
Lam. 3:43 Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. (KJV)
Thou hast covered with anger . . . so many ways to look at this: either God Himself; not as a tender Father, that cannot bear to see the affliction of a child; but rather as one greatly displeased, in whose face anger appears, being covered with it; or at times Who covers His Face with it, that He may not be seen, withdrawing His gracious Presence (Jer.33:5; Mic.3:4), or had put anger as a wall between Him and them, so that there was no coming close to Him: or else it means covering His people with the abundance of afflictions that they were as it were covered with them.
And persecuted us . . . pursued and followed us with fresh instances of anger and resentment; to have men to be persecutors is bad, but to have God to be a Persecutor is awful.
Thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied . . . had allowed them to be slain by the sword of the enemy, and had shown no compassion to them (Lam.2:21). Jeremiah is complaining again; before he had checked himself for it; so hard it is under afflictions to put in practice what should be done.
Lam. 3:44 Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through. (KJV)
Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud . . . Sin, when it is not pardoned, stands as a cloud between God and His people. Sin causes God to show His anger and displeasure; which is the cloud about Him, or the hiding of His Face.
That our prayer should not pass through . . . Lam. 3:8 Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. (KJV) Isa. 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (KJV)
Lam. 3:45 Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people. (KJV)
Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people. Had given them up into the hands of the Gentiles, the Chaldeans, to be treated as the dirt of the streets, as the sweepings of a house; or the dross of metal; or anything that is vile, mean and contemptible. The apostle Paul seems to have some reference to this passage; and his words may be an illustration of it. 1 Cor. 4:13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. (KJV)
Lam. 3:46 All our enemies have opened their mouths against us. (KJV)
All our enemies have opened their mouths against us . . . like lions to devour us; or in way of scorn and contempt; pouring out their reproaches upon us, scoffing at us for our religion and the worship of God, and because of present miseries and distresses (Lam.2:16).
Lam. 3:47 Fear and a snare is come upon us, desolation and destruction. (KJV)
Fear and a snare is come upon us . . . or the fear of failing into the pit of ruin and destruction, on the brink of which they saw themselves; or fear seized us, and caused us to flee; and a snare or pit was prepared for us to fall into; so that there was no escaping from there.
Desolation and destruction . . . devastation of their land; and destruction of their city and Temple; and of multitudes of them by the sword, famine and pestilence; and the rest carried into captivity, excepting a few left desolate in the land.
Lam. 3:48 Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people. (KJV)
Mine eye runneth down with rivers of waters . . . meaning the greatness of his grief and trouble at the afflictions of his people, and the vast profusion of tears on that account. Here the prophet speaks in his own person, expressing the anguish of his soul he felt, and the floods of tears he shed.
For the destruction of the daughter of my people . . . for those that were slain of them, or carried captive (Jer.9:1).
Lam. 3:49 Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not, without any intermission, (KJV)
Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not . . . from weeping, for the prophet wept continually; the distresses of his people were always uppermost in his mind; and which great affected him.
Without any intermission . . . there were no stops or pauses in his grief, and in the expressions of it, because there is none that halts his distress, and speaks comforts to him.
Lam. 3:50 Till the LORD look down, and behold from heaven. (KJV)
Till the LORD look down, and behold from heaven . . . disperses and dissipates the cloud that was around Him; shines forth and shows Himself, and looks favorably upon His people, and delivers them out of their troubles: this the prophet was in hope of, and was waiting for . . . but until it came to pass, could have no rest and comfort.
Lam. 3:51 Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city. (KJV)
Mine eye affecteth mine heart . . . seeing the desolation of his country; the ruins of the city and Temple of Jerusalem; and the multitudes of those that were slain, and carried captive; and the sufferings the rest were in. This filled his heart with grief, and his heart also affected his eyes, and caused them to run down in rivers of water, as before expressed.
Because of all the daughters of my city . . . not Anathoth, his native place, but Jerusalem. The meaning is, that his heart was affected at seeing the ruin of the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and the towns and cities around it, which was the capital. It seems that Jeremiah’s heart was more affected with those calamities than any of the Jews.
Lam. 3:52 Mine enemies chased me sore, like a bird, without cause. (KJV)
Mine enemies chased me sore like a bird . . . weak and helpless and afraid as a bird, that flees from place to place when pursued. So it was with the prophet, or the Jews he represents; for here and in the following verses he speaks not only of himself, but of them; who, when they fled out of the city, were chased and pursued by the Chaldeans like a bird, until they were taken (Jer.52:7). They had done them no harm, to make them their enemies; and without reason pursued and chased them in the manner they did.
Lam. 3:53 They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me. (KJV)
They have cut off my life in the dungeon . . . Jeremiah was both in a prison and in a dungeon, where he was deprived of the society of men, as if he had been dead; and he was in danger of losing his life; but whether any respect is had to it here is not certain: it seems instead to respect the Jews in captivity, who were deprived of their rights and liberties and the comforts of life; and were like dead men in their graves, to whom they are compared. Eze. 37:11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. (KJV)
And cast a stone upon me . . . to see if he were dead, or to prevent him from rising. The reference is to the putting of stones at the mouths of dens and dungeons, caves and graves, to keep in those that were put there. Dan. 6:17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel. (KJV) Mat. 27:60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. (KJV)
Lam. 3:54 Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off. (KJV)
Waters flowed over mine head . . . this is to be understood symbolically of the waters of afflictions, which overflowed and overwhelmed the Jews. Ps. 69:1 Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. (KJV)
Then I said, I am cut off . . . while the waters are only up to a man's loins, he does not think himself in danger; for there is hope of his wading out; but when they rise above his head, his hopes are gone; he thinks it all over with him, and his life in the utmost danger; there being hardly any chance or possibility of being saved; so it was with these people.
Lam. 3:55 I called upon thy name, O LORD, out of the low dungeon. (KJV)
I called upon thy name, O LORD . . . as in times past, so in the present distress; when all hope was gone, and all help failed, still there was a God to go to, and call upon.
Out of the low dungeon . . . or dungeon of lowness; meaning deepest distress that a man or people could be in; yet even then it is not too late to call upon the LORD; for there may be hope of deliverance out of such a terrible time by Him.
Lam. 3:56 Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. (KJV)
Thou hast heard my voice . . . in times past, when Jeremiah cried to Him and was delivered; this encouraged him to call upon the LORD again in such an extreme situation, for He had shown Himself to be a God who hears and answers prayer.
Hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry . . . turn not a deaf ear to me, who has heard me before; do not shut Thine ear at my cry now, at my prayer, which he calls his breathing. Prayer is the breath of a soul regenerated by the Spirit, and is a sign and evidence of life, when it is spiritual; in it a soul pants after God, and has communion with Him, and salvation by Him.
Lam. 3:57 Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not. (KJV)
Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee . . . when persons draw near to God in a way of duty, and mainly in prayer, calling on His Name; He draws near to them in a way of grace and mercy, and reveals Himself to them.
Thou saidst, fear not . . . any of thine enemies; for that you shall not be delivered from them. Isa. 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (KJV)
Lam. 3:58 O LORD, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life. (KJV)
O LORD, thou hast pleaded the cause of my soul . . . the causes that not only concerned his soul and life:, but many others; this respects not only Jeremiah, and the LORD'S pleading his cause against Zedekiah and his nobles; but the Jews in former times, when in Egypt, and in the times of the judges.
Thou hast redeemed my life . . . by delivering out of the pit and dungeon, where it was in danger; and not only him, but the whole body of the people of old out of Egypt, and out of the hands of their enemies, the Philistines and others.
Lam. 3:59 O LORD, thou hast seen my wrong: judge thou my cause. (KJV)
O LORD, thou hast seen my wrong . . . or my perverseness, not that he or they had been guilty of; but the wrong that was done to him and them by their enemies; how perverse and ill-natured they had been to them; how badly they had used them; what injuries they had done to them; none of which escaped the omniscience (awareness and knowledge) of God, to which the appeal is made.
Judge thou my cause . . . the present one; just You have pleaded and judged many already; do me justice, right my wrongs, and save me from mine enemies; and let it appear to all the world my cause is just, and they are in the wrong.
*****Verses 58-59: God is asked by Jeremiah to review the present case and do what needed to be done to bring justice to Jeremiah and redeem the Jews. Ex. 6:6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: (KJV)
Lam. 3:60 Thou hast seen all their vengeance and all their imaginations against me. (KJV)
Thou hast seen all their vengeance . . . seen the spirit of revenge in them; their wrath and fury, and how they have a burning desire to do harm; as well as their revengeful actions and behavior.
And all their imaginations against me; their secret contrivances of mischief, their plots and schemes they devise to do hurt to me and the Jews.
Lam. 3:61 Thou hast heard their reproach, O LORD, and all their imaginations against me; (KJV)
Thou hast heard their reproach, O LORD . . . their fault-finding words uttered against the prophet and his people, and against God Himself; their spiteful language, their taunts, scoffs and jeers.
And all their imaginations against me . . . those he not only saw, but also heard as they were expressed by their words; yea, they were manifest to him, while they only were in silent thought forming in the mind. Whatever knowledge men get of things done from their eye or ear, the LORD knows not only their malicious actions, but their words and even their thoughts.
Lam. 3:62 The lips of those that rose up against me, and their device against me all the day. (KJV)
The lips of those that rose up against me . . . this is to be connected with the preceding words; and expresses the same thing, just in different language. The LORD heard the words which dropped from the lips of His enemies; He heard their sarcasms, scorns and jeers; their bitter reflections, severe criticisms and scornful language.
And their device against me all the day . . . or their meditation of evil against me.
Lam. 3:63 Behold their sitting down, and their rising up; I am their musick. (KJV)
Behold their sitting down, and their rising up . . . all their actions; the whole course of their lives; all which fell under the divine omniscience. Ps. 139:2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. (KJV)
I am their musick . . . or music maker as Samson was to the Philistines. He was the maker of their mirth; the subject of their song; and the object of their scorn.
Lam. 3:64 Render unto them a recompence, O LORD, according to the work of their hands. (KJV)
Render unto them a recompence, O LORD, according to the work of their hands . . . some versions render this, and the following verses, not as petitions, but as prophecies of what should be; but they seem rather to be expressed by way of request; and here, that God would deal with them according to the law of retaliation, and avenge them according to what they had done; that He would do to them as they had done to the LORD'S people, and others; and this is ordered to be done particularly to the Chaldeans, or Babylonians (Jer.50:15).
Lam. 3:65 Give them sorrow of heart, thy curse unto them. (KJV)
Give them sorrow of heart . . . that which will cause sorrow of heart; such judgments and punishments as will be grievous to them.
Thy curse unto them . . . what greater curse is there than to be given up to judicial blindness and hardness of heart? Maybe this includes all the curses of the law denounced against transgressors.
Lam. 3:66 Persecute and destroy them in anger from under the heavens of the LORD. (KJV)
Persecute and destroy them in anger . . . as they have persecuted the people of God, persecute them and never leave pursuing them until You have made a full end of them, as the effect of vindictive wrath and vengeance.
From under the heavens of the LORD . . . which are made by Him, and in which He dwells; let them not have the benefit of them, nor so much as the sight of them; but let them perish from under them. Jer. 10:12 He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion. (KJV)
Book of Lamentations
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