Lamentations of Jeremiah

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
This book shows the compassion and interest God has in the afflictions of His people, and that these are not lessened even when the afflictions have been brought about by Himself because of their sins. It is declared of the Lord that “in all their affliction He was afflicted” (Isa. 63:99In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. (Isaiah 63:9)); and this was seen when the Lord was on earth in His weeping over Jerusalem. Jeremiah had a like spirit and lamented over the calamities that had fallen upon his beloved people and their city Jerusalem. He appealed to the passersby: could they see such sorrow, caused by an affliction sent by Jehovah in His fierce wrath, and be unmoved by it? (Lam. 1:1212Is 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. (Lamentations 1:12)). Then he adds that Jehovah in these dealings was righteous, for they had rebelled against His commandments.
Lamentations 3. The prophet details his personal sufferings: they were like the sympathetic sufferings of Christ spoken of elsewhere; but in Lamentations 3:2222It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. (Lamentations 3:22) the prophet remembers the mercies of Jehovah, and expresses his hope in Him. Because of His compassions they were not consumed; and it was good to wait and hope. Jehovah will not cast off forever, and He does not afflict willingly. The prophet then calls for repentance and a turning to Jehovah. He has confidence that God hears, and he asks for the destruction of their enemies.
Lamentations 4. Jeremiah as in the presence of Jehovah spreads out all the humiliating reverses that had fallen upon them, mentioning separately the Nazarites, the prophets, the priests, and the people; and then he foretells that God’s wrath should pass also unto Edom, who had doubtless rejoiced at the calamities of Jerusalem. He could add that the punishment of the daughter of Zion was accomplished, she should no more be carried away.
Lamentations 5. An affecting appeal is made to God. All had been confessed, and hope in God had been expressed; yet the afflictions pressed heavily upon the prophet. His last words are: “Turn thou us unto Thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old. But Thou hast utterly rejected us: Thou art very wroth against us.”
The composition of the Lamentations is uncommon. The first four chapters are arranged in alphabetical order and the chapters contain 22 verses each, the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, except that Lamentations 3 has 22 stanzas of three verses, making in all 66. In Lamentations 1, 2, and 4, verse 1 begins with A; verse 2 with B, and so on, as in some of the Psalms. In Lamentations 3 each verse in a stanza begins with the same letter, thus verses 1, 2, 3 begin with A; verses 4, 5, 6 with B, and so on to the end. The prayer in Lamentations 5 is not alphabetical. In the Hebrew Bible the “Lamentations” form a part of the Hagiographa (Holy Writings), and is placed between Ruth and Ecclesiastes. In the Jewish Liturgy this book was appointed to be repeated on the Fast of the ninth of Ab (fifth month), to commemorate the destruction of the city and the temple by the Chaldeans and also by the Romans.