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Lamentations Chapter 4
Introduction to Lamentations 4
The prophet begins this chapter with a complaint of the ill usage of the children of God, and precious sons of Zion (Lam.4:1); and relates to the dreadful effects of the famine during the siege of Jerusalem (Lam.4:3); the taking and destruction of that city he credits to the wrath of God; and represents it as incredible to the kings and inhabitants of the Earth (Lam.4:11); the causes of which were the sins of the prophets, priests and people (Lam.4:13); and expresses the vain hopes they once had, but now had given up entirely, their king being taken (Lam.4:17). The Chapter ends with a prophecy of the destruction of the Edomites, and of the return of the Jews from captivity (Lam.4:21).
Lam. 4:1 How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street. (KJV)
How is the gold become dim! . . . or hidden with rust, dust or dirt; so that it can hardly be recognized.
How is the most fine gold changed! . . . this may be literally true of the gold of the Temple; with which was overlaid, with many things in it. 1 Ki. 6:21 So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he made a partition by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold. (KJV) It was sadly tarnished with the burning of the Temple, and the rubbish of it. Its brightness was lost, and its color changed; but although there may be a reference to that, it could well be understood of the people of God.
The stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street . . . in the literal sense it may regard the costly stones of the Temple, which when that was destroyed, not only lay in heaps; but many of them, were separated and scattered and carried to every corner of the city and the streets of it, and there lay exposed, neglected and trampled upon. 1 Ki. 5:17 And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house. (KJV)
Lam. 4:2 The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter! (KJV)
The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold . . . this explains what is meant in verse 1; by gold, fine gold, and stones of the sanctuary . . . not Josiah and his sons, as some Jewish interpreters; but all the sons of Zion, or children of God; not the inhabitants of Zion literally, but spiritually (Zec.9:13). Zion is the church; her sons are her spiritual seed and offspring that are born of her, she being the mother of them all, and born in her, by means of the Word of God; and brought up by her, through the ordinances, and so are regenerate persons; and these the sons of God: and who are precious, not in themselves, being of the fallen race of Adam; of the Earth, earthly, as he was; of the same mass and lump with the rest of mankind; in no wise better than others, by nature; and have no essential worth and value in them, but only what comes by and from the grace of God. Nor are they precious in their own regard, and much less in the esteem of the men of the world; but in the Eye of God, and of His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ, and of the Blessed Spirit, and in the opinion of other saints (Ps.16:3); in this sense these are compared to fine gold (verse 1).
How are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter! . . . they are like clay vessels with respect to their bodies, frail, weak and mortal; but they are the work of God's Hands, even as creatures and especially as new creatures (2 Cor.5:17), and so valuable, especially by Him, who is as tender and as careful of them as the apple of His Eye; and yet these are greatly disesteemed by carnal men, are counted as the faith of the world, and the offscouring (Lam.3:34; 1 Cor.4:13) of all things; as earthen vessels, fit for no use except common or dishonorable ones, or to be broken in pieces, and considered useless and contemptible. Ps. 31:12 I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel. (KJV)
Lam. 4:3 Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness. (KJV)
Even the sea monsters draw out the breast . . . some interpret this of dragons; others of seals or sea calves; but it is best to understand it of whales, as the word is rendered in (Gen.1:21). Whales and dolphins have breasts or paps and milk. They feed their young with their paps; but the paps of these creatures are not visible, as those of four footed beasts, but are like two channels or pipes, out of which the milk flows, and the young suck.
They give suck to their young ones . . . when they are hungry; which is mentioned, as an aggravation of the case of the Jewish women, with respect to their behavior towards their children, by reason of the famine, during the siege of Jerusalem; which here, and in the following verses, is described in the sad effects of it; and which had a further accomplishment at the destruction of the same city by the Romans. Although the sea monsters suckled their young when hungry, yet these women did not suckle theirs.
The daughter of my people is become cruel . . . is changed unto a cruel one, or is like one, and behaves as such, though of force and necessity: the meaning is, that the Jewish women, although before were tenderhearted mothers, yet because of the famine, having no milk in their breasts, could give none to their children, and so acted as if they were cruel to them; and instead of feeding the children, they fed upon them (verse 10).
Like the ostriches in the wilderness . . . which lay their eggs, and leave them in places easily to be crushed and broken; and when they have any young ones, they are hardened against them, as if they were none of theirs (Job 39:13-15); and this seemed now to be the case of these women; or like the owls, as the word is sometimes rendered; and which also leave their eggs, and for want of food will eat their young, as those women did.
Lam. 4:4 The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them. (KJV)
The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst. . . through lack of the milk of the breast, which is both food and drink to a child.
The young children ask bread . . . of their parents as usual, not knowing how serious the case was, that there was a famine in the city; these were more grown, were weaned from milk, and lived on other food, and were capable of asking for it.
And no man breaketh it unto them . . . no one distributes to them, or gives them a piece of bread; not father, friend or any other person; it not being in their power to do it, they having none for themselves.
Lam. 4:5 They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills. (KJV)
They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets . . . that were brought up in the king's palace, or in the houses of noblemen; born of wealthy parents and had been used to good living, and had fared lavishly and deliciously every day, but now were wandering in the streets in the most forlorn and distressed condition, seeking for food of any kind, but could find nothing to satisfy their hunger; and so, perished in the streets.
They that were brought up in scarlet . . . clothed with scarlet colored ones, as was the way of the richer people (Pro.31:21). And upon scarlet carpets, on which they used to sit and eat their food, as is the custom of the eastern people, these now
Embrace dunghills . . . and are glad of them, and with the greatest eagerness rake into them, in order to find something to feed upon, though ever so base and vile; or to sit and lie down upon. One interprets it of their being cast here when dead, and there was none to bury them.
*****This judgment reached not only to the common people, but to persons of the highest rank and order, whose misery was so much the greater, because it greatly opposed their former splendid way of living. They were accustomed to eat deliciously; now they just wanted bread to eat, and were desolate in the streets. They were accustomed to sit on scarlet carpets to eat, or to lodge upon scarlet beds and conches; now they searched for their meat, and were glad to lie upon dunghills.
Lam. 4:6 For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her. (KJV)
For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people . . . the punishment of sin was the cause of the long siege of their city and the difficulties that went with it, especially the awful famine.
Is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom . . . which was destroyed at once by fire from Heaven (Gen.19:24). It could be said, the iniquity of the daughter of My people is greater than the sin of Sodom. Although the men of Sodom were great indeed sinners, the Jews were worse, in that their sins were more aggravated, for there dwelt not in her prophets to prophesy to her, and turn her by repentance, as the Jews had, and therefore their sin was the greater.
That was overthrown as in a moment . . . by a shower of fire from Heaven, which consumed it at once; while the destruction of Jerusalem was a lingering one, through a long and tedious siege; the inhabitants were gradually consumed by famine, pestilence and sword, and so their punishment greater than Sodom's.
And no hand stayed on her . . . on Sodom; the Hand of God was immediately upon her, and removed at once, but not the hands of men; as the hands of the Chaldeans were upon the Jews, afflicting and distressing them a long time, which made their case worse.
*****The word translated punishment also means iniquity. Lam. 3:39 Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? (KJV) The sins of the Jews are compared to the sins of Sodom (Isa.3:9; Eze.16:46, 48-49); so their rulers are called rulers of Sodom (Isa.1:10); either their sins were just the same, as to many sins (Eze.16:49), or they were of the same magnitude and provoking nature. Jeremiah here complains that they were punished like Sodom (Am.4:11); and their punishment was greater, because it was more lingering and gradual, whereas Sodom was overthrown in a moment, and that by no human hands that abode upon her, causing her a continued torment, as there did upon the Jews.
Lam. 4:7 Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire: (KJV)
Her Nazarites were purer than snow . . . Nazarites were those who separated themselves by a vow to the LORD. They abstained from drinking wine and strong drink, and by a modest diet, and often washing themselves, as well as taking great care of their hair, appearing very neat and comely, without any spot or blemish. Some think these as were separated from others in dignity, very honorable persons, the sons of nobles, are meant, since the word has the meaning of a crown, and interpret it, her princes. Some reject this but it is accepted by many: and the meaning is, that her young noblemen, who were well fed, and neatly dressed, looked as pure and as beautiful as the driven snow.
They were whiter than milk . . . this means the same thing, expressed another way.
They were more ruddy in body than rubies . . . or than precious stones; mainly than pearls which are white, not red. The word in the Arabic signifies white and clear, as pearls are; and so the phrase expresses the beauty and comeliness of these persons. In the Ethiopic language it means beautiful and one translates the whole, they were more beautiful than pearls, meaning the clearness of their skins, and the goodness of their complexion.
Their polishing was of sapphire . . . they were as beautiful as if they had been cut out of sapphire, which is a very precious stone and polished, and is beautiful; so smooth were their skins. All this is to be understood of them before the famine, but, when the famine came, then they were as follow,
*****By Nazarites in this place the best interpreters do not think persons who were of the religious order of Nazarites, the laws of which order are to be found in (Num.6:1-27), and of whom we read (Am. 2:11-12). Here the beauty described (in several ways), could NEVER agree to them; for these were persons that were nobly and ingenuously bred; the word Nezer signifying a crown, or ensign of honor (2 Sam. 1:10; 2 Ki. 11:12). The name Nazarite was given to persons who were splendid for their breeding and education, or honor and dignity; it is given to Joseph (Gen. 49:26), and were separate from his brethren (Deu.33:16). Her Nazarites in this place meant her separated ones, who either in respect of birth, education, estate or places of magistracy were distinguished from the rest of the people. He expresses their former splendid estate by the symbols of snow, milk, rubies, and sapphires.
Lam. 4:8 Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick. (KJV)
Their visage is blacker than a coal . . . or darker than blackness because of the famine and the grief and trouble, which changed their complexions, faces and skins. Before, they that looked as pure as snow, as white as milk, as clear as pearls, as polished as sapphire, but now as black as charcoal, as blackness itself.
They are not known in the streets . . . not taken notice of in a famous manner; no respect was shown to them as they walked the streets, as they were accustomed to, indeed, their appearances were so changed, and their clothing so wretched, they were not known even by their friends, when they met them in public.
Their skin cleaveth to their bones . . . they have nothing but skin and bone, who once were plump and fat.
It is withered, it is become like a stick . . . the skin wrinkled and shriveled, the flesh being gone; and the bone became like a stick, or a dry piece of wood, its moisture and marrow being dried up.
Lam. 4:9 They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger: for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field. (KJV)
They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger . . . not that they are better with respect to their state after death, but with respect to their way of dying. They that were slain by the sword of the Chaldeans felt less pain, and had less terror of dying, than those who perished by famine. These died an awful lingering death, as it were by inches, being in continual pain of body and discomfort of mind.
For these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field . . . those that died by famine gradually wasted or flowed away, the fluid parts of their body by degrees decreased; and although they were not run through with the sword, they were certainly stabbed by famine. These were so distressed in body and mind as if a sword had pierced them; for they had no fruits of the field, the corn and the wine to support them and keep them alive.
*****They that were slain with hunger were so torn by the smell of the fruits of the field, when the enemies were roasting them outside the wall. The smell came to those that were swelled by famine, and their bellies burst, and their excrements flowed out. This is the death worse than that of being slain with the sword. Those that are slain with the sword were happier than they that are slain with famine.
They were stricken through, for lack of the fruits of the field; those who were starved were as sure to die as if they had been stabbed and stricken through; only their case was much more miserable. Those who are slain with the sword are soon put out of their pain; in a moment they go down to the grave (Job 21:13). They do not have the terror of seeing death advance towards them, and scarcely feel it when the blow is given; it is but one sharp struggle, and the work is done. But, if we be ready for another world, we need not be afraid of a short passage to it; the quicker the better. But those who die by famine pine away; hunger preys upon their spirits and wastes them slowly. It frets their minds and spirits, and fills them with aggravation, and is as great a torture to the mind as to the body. There are no bands in their death (Ps. 73:4).
Lam 4:10 The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people. (KJV)
The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children . . . the starving people were forced to cook and eat their own children. Josephus describes how a similar siege under the Roman emperor Titus resulted in the same cannibalism. Lam. 2:20 Behold, O LORD, and consider to whom thou hast done this. Shall the women eat their fruit, and children of a span long? shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the LORD? (KJV) Also see: (Deut. 28:56, 57; 2 Ki. 6: 28-29; Jer. 19:9). Because of the agony of the famine, they became so cruel and hardhearted, as to take their own children, slay them with their own hands, boil them and then eat them.
They were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people . . . at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. This strange and unnatural action was foretold by Moses. Deut.28:56 The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, (KJV) And although we have no particular instance of it on record, as done at the siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, yet no doubt there was, as may be concluded from the words: and at the siege of it by the Romans, when many things here spoken of had a fuller accomplishment, we have a remarkable instance of it, which Josephus relates, an illustrious woman, named Mary, pressed with the famine, slew her own son, a sucking child, boiled him, and ate part of him, and laid up the rest; which was found by the seditious party that broke into her house, which struck them with the utmost horror. See Lam.2:20 above.
Lam. 4:11 The LORD hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof. (KJV)
The LORD hath accomplished his fury. . . which rose up in His Mind, and which He purposed in Himself to bring upon the sinful Jews.
He hath poured out his fierce anger . . . the vials of His Holy wrath in great abundance, everything that He intended to pour out on them.
And hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof . . . not in the strong hold of Zion only, but in the entire city of Jerusalem, which was set on fire by the Chaldeans, who were the instruments, according to the will of God; and which not only consumed the houses of it, but even the foundations of them; so that it looked as if there was no hope of its ever being rebuilt. Some interpret this fire of the famine.
Lam. 4:12 The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem. (KJV)
The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world . . . not only the neighboring nations, and the kings of them, but even such in all parts of the world that knew anything of Jerusalem.
Would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy would have entered into the gates of Jerusalem . . . even when it was surrounding the city, they did not believe it would be taken; and when they heard it was, it was unbelievable to them; it being so strongly fortified by workmanship and nature, with mountains and hills, with walls and bulwarks, and had such a vast number of people in it; and, especially, because it was the city of the Great God, who had so often and so completely preserved and saved it. The adversary and enemy are the same, and mean the Chaldeans.
Lam. 4:13 For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her, (KJV)
For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests . . . some interpret this of the prophets of Baal, and the priests of the high places; but even though false prophets and wicked priests are meant, but the Jews made choices and approved of them. 2 Chr. 36:14 Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. (KJV) . . . not that the people were faultless, but these were the leaders, who by their examples led and encouraged the common people in sin.
That have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her . . . not the blood of innocent children, sacrificed to them by Moloch; but of good men in general, whom they persecuted and killed; and mainly the true prophets of the LORD in particular, whose blood they shed; and was the sin that brought on the destruction of their city by the Romans, as well as of that by the Chaldeans. Mat. 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. (KJV)
Lam. 4:14 They have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments. (KJV)
They have wandered as blind men in the streets . . . the false prophets and wicked priests; and may be understood either literally, that when the city was taken, and they fled, they were like blind men, and knew not which way to go to escape, but wandered from place to place, and could find no way out; or spiritually, although they pretended to have great light and knowledge, yet were as blind men, because of the darkness of ignorance and error, and were blind leaders of the blind (Mat.15:14).
They have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments . . . it was not lawful for them to do it: the sense is that no matter which way these men took to make their escape, they found so many dead carcasses in the streets, and such a profusion of blood by them, that they could not help but touch it with their garments; and so were defiled, that others might not touch them, even their garments; or these men had defiled themselves with the shedding of the blood of righteous persons; so that they were hateful to men, and they shunned them as they would do anything that by the law rendered them in a ceremonious sense unclean, and therefore said as follows,
Lam. 4:15 They cried unto them, Depart ye; it is unclean; depart, depart, touch not: when they fled away and wandered, they said among the heathen, They shall no more sojourn there. (KJV)
They cried unto them, depart ye, it is unclean . . . the people said this to the priests, being polluted with blood; they hated them, did not want them to come near them, but keep them keep at distance. They that cleansed others of leprosy were treated as leprous persons themselves, and proclaimed unclean, and shunned as such: and, to show their passionate hatred of them, repeated the words, that is, touch us not; they who had used to say this to others,
Depart, depart, touch not . . . stand by yourselves, we are more holy than you, being the LORD'S priests and prophets, now they are treated in the same way themselves.
When they fled away, and wandered . . . fled from the city, and wandered among the nations; or were swiftly carried away captives, and became vagrants in other countries.
They said among the Heathens, they shall no more sojourn there . . . being among the Heathens, which considered them very wicked men. They were carried out of their own land, they shall never return there again, nor dwell in Jerusalem and preside in the Temple, as they had formerly done.
Lam. 4:16 The anger of the LORD hath divided them; he will no more regard them: they respected not the persons of the priests, they favoured not the elders. (KJV)
The anger of the LORD hath divided them . . . the anger that appeared in the Face of the LORD, in the release of His wisdom, removed them from their own land, and dispersed them among several countries and nations of the world, as they are now. These are not the words of the Heathens continued, but of Jeremiah.
He will no more regard them . . . He will not look on them with a look of love, but will continue His anger and resentment.
They respect not the persons of the priests, they favour not the elders. . . which is to be considered either as the sin of the false prophets and priests before described, which was the cause of their punishment; that they cast great contempt on the true prophets of the LORD, such as Jeremiah and others, and showed no regard to the elders of the people, or those godly officials; who would have corrected and restrained them.
Lam. 4:17 As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help: in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save us. (KJV)
As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help . . . or while we were yet a nation, a people in our own land, before the city of Jerusalem was taken, we were looking for help, as was promised us; but it proved a vain help, none was given us; for which we kept looking to the last, until our eyes failed, and we could look no longer; no help appeared, nor was there any prospect or likelihood of it, and so we gave it all up.
In our watching we watched for a nation that could not save us . . . not the Romans, but the Egyptians; these promised the Jews help and relief, and so they intensely watched and sadly looked out for it, but all in vain; for though these made an attempt to help them, but they could not proceed; because they were forced to retire, not being a match for the Chaldean army, and so could not save them, or break up the siege, and relieve them.
Lam. 4:18 They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come. (KJV)
They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets . . . the Chaldeans, from their forts and batteries, watched the people as they came out of their houses and walked about the streets, and shot their arrows at them; so that they were forced to stay inside, and not stir out, which they could not do without great danger.
Our end is near, for our days are fulfilled; for our end is come . . . the Chaldeans employed in the siege, they are so close upon us that we cannot stir a foot about our businesses, nor look out our doors, nor walk safely in the streets; we are ruined, there is an end of our civil state; our period is come, and the time of our prosperity is gone.
*****Does God have a specific time period for our lives? Is there an end of our lives, the days, months and years appointed for them being fulfilled? What does God have to say? Ps.139:13-16 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (KJV)
God has placed limits on the life span of mankind. Notice that an individual's health will impact his life, but not greatly. The limit of 70 or 80 years is not hard fast, but a general rule of thumb. Even now, with all our medical capabilities, the average life span is still near 80. Psalm 90:10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. (KJV) We know the length of our lives is not fixed by the LORD, because the Bible tells us that a person's behavior will affect his life span. Ps.55:23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee. (KJV)
In other words, people could have lived longer, but because of their wicked ways they may not live out even half of their potential. Pro.10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened. (KJV)
Job 14:15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands. (KJV) . . . Job is not discussing a set number of days for each individual, but that God has placed general limits on how long men can live on this Earth. We see that some, because of their behavior, do not reach the potential life span that God has granted men during their stay on earth. Let us follow Solomon's warning: Ecc. 7:17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? (KJV)
Lam. 4:19 Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven: they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness. (KJV)
Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heavens . . . eagles that fly in the heavens are quick to see their prey afar off, and are fast to pursue it. This eagle is remarkable for its stability in flying: it is never tired, just keeps flying to remote places. The swiftness and constancy of these eagles in flying are here intended to set forth the speed and diligence of the enemies of the Jews, in their pursuit after them; who followed them closely, and never stopped until they had overtaken them.
They pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness . . . there was no safety in either; for those that fled to the mountains were pursued and overtaken there; and those who tried to escape through the valleys were seized there. The reference is to the flight of Zedekiah, his nobles and his army with him, who were pursued by the Chaldeans, and were taken in the plains of Jericho. Jer. 52:7 Then the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king's garden; (now the Chaldeans were by the city round about:) and they went by the way of the plain. (KJV)
Lam. 4:20 The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen. (KJV)
The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in their pits . . . breath, anointed of the LORD, with whose life ours was bound up. The original reference seems to have been to Josiah (2 Chr. 35:25), killed in battle with Pharaoh-necho; but the language is here applied to Zedekiah, who although worthless, was still a lineal representative of David and type of Messiah, the Anointed.
What is here said may be applied to Christ; for He is the life of men, He gives them life and breath, and in Him they live and move; their spiritual life is from Him, and is maintained and preserved by Him. He lives in His people (Jn.14:16-18), and they in Him, and they cannot live without Him, no more than a man can live without his breath. He is the Christ of God (Luke 9:20), anointed with the Holy Ghost to the offices of Prophet, Priest and King; and from whom Christians have their holy unction (1 Jn.2:20) and their Name, Christian!
Of whom we said, under his shadow we shall live among the Heathen . . . in the midst of the nations around them, unmolested by them, none daring to meddle with them; at least safe from being carried captive, as now they were. Although Jeconiah was taken and carried into Babylon, and Zedekiah being placed on the throne, the Jews hoped to live in peace and quiet lives under his government, undisturbed by their neighbors. The wise and good government of a prince, and protection under it, sometimes is compared in Scripture to the shadow of a rock or tree (Isa.32:2), but now it was all over with them; their hope was gone, he being taken. Something like this may be observed in the disciples of Christ; they hoped He would have restored the kingdom to Israel, and that they would have lived gloriously under His government; they trusted that it was He that should have redeemed Israel; but, when He was taken and crucified, their hope was gone (Lk.24:21). True believers in Christ do live in peace, comfortably and safely under Him; and they are among the Heathen, among the men of the world, liable to their reproaches, insults and injuries; Christ is a tree, to which He is often compared, that casts a delightful, reviving and refreshing shadow, under which they sit with great delight, pleasure, and profit (Song 2:3). He is a Rock, the Shadow of which gives rest to weary souls, and shelters them from the heat of God’s divine wrath and the darts of Satan and persecutions of men (Isa.32:2). Under His government, protection and power, they dwell safely, so that sin cannot destroy them, nor Satan devour them, nor the world hurt them; here they live spiritually and shall never die eternally (Jer.23:5).
Lam. 4:21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz; the cup also shall pass through unto thee: thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked. (KJV)
Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom . . . the land of Idumea and the people of it, who did rejoice at the destruction of Jerusalem (Oba.1:12); and here, in a sarcastic manner, are bid to go on with their mirth, if they could, like the young man in: Ecc. 11:9 Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. (KJV)
That dwellest in the land of Uz . . . not the country of Job, which had its name from Uz the son of Nahor (Job 1:1), but a country in Idumea.
The cup also shall pass through unto thee . . . the cup of God's wrath and vengeance; which, as it had come to the Jews, and was passing from one nation to another, in its turn would come to these Edomites (Jer.25:15).
Thou shall be drunken, and shall make thyself naked . . . be overcome by it; as persons with wine or any strong drink, reel to and fro and fall; and be utterly destroyed, lie helpless and without strength. And make thyself naked may be stated; stripped of their riches and wealth; or they should strip themselves of their clothes, and behave indecently, and expose those parts which ought to be covered, as drunken persons do . . . the sense is, they would be exposed or would expose themselves to shame and contempt.
Lam. 4:22 The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins. (KJV)
The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion . . . in part, in the seventy years' captivity in Babylon, and more fully in their present captivity; for, as has been seen, there are some things in this account, which would have a further accomplishment in the destruction of Jerusalem, and the distress of the Jews by the Romans.
He will no more carry thee away into captivity . . . he, the enemy; or the LORD, as the Targum. Thou shall no more be carried captive: this seems to confirm the above observation, that this Chapter is a prophecy of what would be, as well as a narrative of what had been; and includes the destruction both of the first and second Temple, and of the Jews both by the Chaldeans and Romans; for it is certain, that after their deliverance from the captivity of Babylon, they have been carried captive, and are now in captivity.
He will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom . . . punish the Edomites for their sins, as is elsewhere threatened (Jer.49:7; Am.1:11); which was fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar as God’s instrument; and may have some respect to the destruction of the Romans, when the Jews shall be converted, and return to their own land.
He will discover thy sins . . . by the punishment of them; for when God pardons sins, He is said to cover them; so, when He punishes for them, He discovers them.
Jer. 49:10 But I have made Esau bare, I have uncovered his secret places, and he shall not be able to hide himself: his seed is spoiled, and his brethren, and his neighbours, and he is not. (KJV)
Book of Lamentations
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