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What is the use of receiving fresh visions if we have not yet assimilated the truth that we already possess? Sometimes, too, no vision can be found for the simple reason that no vision is needed. We waste ourselves in the pursuit of unprofitable questions when we should be setting about our business.
Until we have obeyed the light that has been given us it is foolish to complain that we have not more light. Even our present light will wane if it is not followed up in practice. But while considerations such as these must be attended to if we are to form a sound judgment on the whole question, they do not end the controversy, and they scarcely apply at all to the particular illustration of it that is now before us.
There is no danger of surfeit in a famine; and it is a famine of the word that we are now confronted with. Moreover, the elegist supplies an explanation that sets all conjectures at rest. The fault was in the prophets themselves. Although the poet does not connect the two statements together, but inserts other matter between them, we cannot fail to see that his next words about the prophets bear very closely on his lament over the denial of visions. He tells us that they had seen visions of vanity and foolishness.
Then they had had their visions; but these had been empty and worthless. The meaning cannot be that the prophets had been subject to unavoidable delusions, that they had sought truth, but had been rewarded with deception. The following words show that the blame was attributed entirely to their own conduct. Addressing the daughter of Zion the poet says: "Thy prophets have seen visions for thee. Such a degradation of sacred functions in gross unfaithfulness deserved punishment; and the most natural and reasonable punishment was the withholding for the future of true visions from men who in the past had forged false ones.
The very possibility of this conduct proves that the influence of inspiration had not the hold upon these Hebrew prophets that it had obtained over the heathen prophet Balaam, when he exclaimed, in face of the bribes and threats of the infuriated king of Moab: "If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; what the Lord speaketh, that will I speak.
It must ever be that unfaithfulness to the light we have already received will bar the door against the advent of more light. There is nothing so blinding as the habit of lying. People who do not speak truth ultimately prevent themselves from perceiving truth, the false tongue leading the eye to see falsely. This is the curse and doom of all insincerity. It is useless to enquire for the views of insincere persons; they can have no distinct views, no certain convictions, because their mental vision is blurred by their long-continued habit of confounding true and false. Then if for once in their lives such people may really desire to find a truth in order to assure themselves in some great emergency, and therefore seek a vision of the Lord, they will have lost the very faculty of receiving it.
The blindness and deadness that characterise so much of the history of thought and literature, art and religion, are to be attributed to the same disgraceful cause. Greek philosophy decayed in the insincerity of professional sophistry. Gothic art degenerated into the florid extravagance of the Tudor period when it had lost its religious motive, and had ceased to be what it pretended. Elizabethan poetry passed through euphuism into the uninspired conceits of the sixteenth century. Dryden restored the habit of true speech, but it required generations of arid eighteenth century sincerity in literature to make the faculty of seeing visions possible to the age of Burns and Shelley and Wordsworth.
In religion this fatal effect of insincerity is terribly apparent. The formalist can never become a prophet. Creeds which were kindled in the fires of passionate conviction will cease to be luminous when the faith that inspired them has perished; and then if they are still repeated as dead words by false lips the unreality of them will not only rob them of all value, it will blind the eyes of the men and women who are guilty of this falsehood before God, so that no new vision of truth can be brought within their reach.
Here is one of the snares that attach themselves to the privilege of receiving a heritage of teaching from our ancestors. We can only avoid it by means of searching inquests over the dead beliefs which a foolish fondness has permitted to remain unburied, poisoning the atmosphere of living faith. So long as the fact that they are dead is not honestly admitted it will be impossible to establish sincerity in worship; and the insincerity, while it lasts, will be an impassable barrier to the advent of truth. The elegist has laid his finger on the particular form of untruth of which the Jerusalem prophets had been guilty.
They had not discovered her iniquity to the daughter of Zion. Some interpreters have given quite a new turn to the last clause of the fourteenth verse.
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Literally this states that the prophets have seen "drivings away"; and accordingly it has been taken to mean that they pretended to have had visions about the captivity when this was an accomplished fact, although they had been silent on the subject, or had even denied the danger, at the earlier time when alone their words could have been of any use; or, again, the words have been thought to suggest that these prophets were now at the later period predicting fresh calamities, and were blind to the vision of hope which a true prophet like Jeremiah had seen and declared.
But such ideas are over-refined, and they give a twist to the course of thought that is foreign to the form of these direct, simple elegies. It seems better to take the final clause of the verse as a repetition of what went before, with a slight variety of form. Thus the poet declares that the burdens, or prophecies, which these unfaithful men have presented to the people have been causes of banishment. The crying fault of the prophets is their reluctance to preach to people of their sins. Their mission distinctly involves the duty of doing so. They should not shun to declare the whole counsel of God.
It is not within the province of the ambassador to make selections from among the despatches with which he has been entrusted in order to suit his own convenience.
There is nothing that so paralyses the work of the preacher as the habit of choosing favourite topics and ignoring less attractive subjects. Just in proportion as he commits this sin against his vocation he ceases to be the prophet of God, and descends to the level of one who deals in obiter dicta , mere personal opinions to be taken on their own merits. One of the gravest possible omissions is the neglect to give due weight to the tragic fact of sin.
All the great prophets have been conspicuous for their fidelity to this painful and sometimes dangerous part of their work. If we would can up a typical picture of a prophet in the discharge of his task, we should present to our minds Elijah confronting Ahab, or John the Baptist before Herod, or Savonarola accusing Lorenzo de Medici, or John Knox preaching at the court of Mary Stuart. He is Isaiah declaring God's abomination of sacrifices and incense when these are offered by blood-stained hands, or Chrysostom seizing the opportunity that followed the mutilation of the imperial statues at Antioch to preach to the dissolute city on the need of repentance, or Latimer denouncing the sins of London to the citizens assembled at Paul's Cross.
The shallow optimism that disregards the shadows of life is trebly faulty when it appears in the pulpit. It falsifies facts in failing to take account of the stern realities of the evil side of them; it misses the grand opportunity of rousing the consciences of men and women by forcing them to attend to unwelcome truths, and thus encourages the heedlessness with which people rush headlong to ruin; and at the same time it even renders the declaration of the gracious truths of the gospel, to which it devotes exclusive attention, ineffectual, because redemption is meaningless to those who do not recognise the present slavery and the future doom from which it brings deliverance.
On every account the rose-water preaching that ignores sin and flatters its hearers with pleasant words is thin, insipid, and lifeless. It tries to win popularity by echoing the popular wishes; and it may succeed in lulling the storm of opposition with which the prophet is commonly assailed. But in the end it must be sterile. When, "through fear or favour," the messenger of heaven thus prostitutes his mission to suit the ends of a low, selfish, worldly expediency, the very least punishment with which his offence can be visited is for him to be deprived of the gifts he has so grossly abused.
Here, then, we have the most specific explanation of the failure of heavenly visions; it comes from the neglect of earthly sin. This is what breaks the magician's wand, so that he can no longer summon the Ariel of inspiration to his aid. It is not easy to analyse the complicated construction of the concluding portion of the second elegy. If the text is not corrupt its transitions are very abrupt. The difficulty is to adjust the relations of three sections.
First we have the sentence, "Their heart cried unto the Lord. Lastly, there is the prayer which extends from verse 20 to the end of the poem.
The most simple grammatical arrangement is to take the first clause in connection with the preceding verse. The last substantive was the word "adversaries. Read thus, the sentence relates an action of the enemies of Israel when their horn has been exalted. The word rendered "cried" is one that would designate a loud shout, and that translated "Lord" here is not the sacred name Jehovah but Adonai , a general term that might very well be used in narrating the behaviour of the heathen towards God. Thus the phrase would seem to describe the insolent shout of triumph which the adversaries of the Jews fling at the God of their victims.
On the other hand, it is to be observed that the general title "Lord" Adonai is also employed in the very next verse in the direct call to prayer. The heart, too, is mentioned again there as it is here, and that to express the inner being and deepest feelings of the afflicted city. It seems unlikely that the elegist would mention a heart-cry of the enemies and describe this as addressed to "The Lord. A great revelation of Lamentations is the covenant faithfulness of God in spite of the covenant unfaithfulness of His people.
God is the central figure in this book, not Jeremiah who goes unnamed in the book , or the Judahites. This book is a revelation of God, as is every book in the Bible. The aspect of God's character that shines through the book from beginning to end is His sorrow. Sin and apostasy not only result in inevitable discipline for people, but they cause God great pain.
He does not enjoy punishing His people for their unfaithfulness. Behind the heartbreak that Jeremiah articulated, we can sense the heartbreak of God Himself. We can also see foreshadows of Jesus Christ's heartbreak over rebels against God, which come through strongly in the Gospels, where Jesus' heartbreak recalls the sentiments that Jeremiah expressed in Lamentations. I would say that the key verses in the book are These verses appear, appropriately, near the structural center of the book. More importantly, they express the positive truth of God's faithfulness against the black backdrop of the Judahites' unfaithfulness.
Unless God was faithful to His covenant promises, the siege of Jerusalem would have spelled the end of Israel. This reference to God's faithfulness is one of the few notes of hope in the litany of tragedy that is the Book of Lamentations. Judgment had to come on Judah because of her covenant unfaithfulness, but Yahweh was faithful to His covenant promises and provided compassion every morning.
The first is the revelation that Lamentations provides of the heart of God. How does God feel when His people wander away from Him, squander His blessings, and get into trouble? He still loves them and remains committed to blessing them, even though He allows them to reap the whirlwind that they have sown.
The great New Testament parallel to this revelation is Jesus' parable of the prodigal son Luke A second abiding value of this book is the proof that sin eventually and inevitably results in devastation. This is perhaps the most obvious lesson of the book. The terrible consequences of the siege of Jerusalem, which Jeremiah chronicled in all their horrors, were the fruit of unfaithfulness to God.
People cannot escape the death that sin brings—even God's people. Romans expresses a universal truth: sin always results in death in some form. The Judahites thought that they could get away with their sins, but even though God was slow to judge them, they finally experienced the devastating consequences of sin. Perhaps one of the reasons we do not hear much preaching on Lamentations today, is that our contemporaries do not want to be reminded of their sin any more than Jeremiah's people did.
If there were more preaching on Lamentations, people would have to face up to the fact that sin leads to terrible devastation. A third value of this book is its example of how to deal with God after He has brought the devastation of His punishment on us because of our sins. Jeremiah modeled this for us. After judgment, people need to turn back to God. We see Jeremiah doing this in his prayers. A prayer concludes each of the first three laments in this book. In each of these chapters, Jeremiah focused first on the terrible judgment of God, but then he appealed to God for mercy and restoration.
Chapter 5, the climax of the book, is entirely prayer cf. Habakkuk 3. Having painted graphic pictures of the siege of Jerusalem and its consequences, the prophet concluded his book by praying to God. One common reaction to devastating circumstances is to turn away from God. Jeremiah teaches us that, when we find ourselves flat on our faces in the dust, we need to turn back to Him in prayer and repentance cf. There is not much hope in Lamentations. The emphasis is on the awful consequences of apostasy: departure from God. But the book ends with a reminder of the eternal sovereignty of Yahweh The mini-acrostic structure of verses suggests that God's sovereignty is the answer to all the devastation described in the other acrostics in chapters 1—4.
It might be more appropriate to place an exclamation point after Jesus' words rather than a question mark. Verse 21 proceeds to request that God will initiate restoration, the only hope of downtrodden sinners. Verse 22 reminds us that God does not utterly reject His people, even though His anger may burn against them, though this verse does so in an almost hopeless way that finishes off the essentially negative message of the book.
God is angry with the church of our day and with professing Christians of our day, if we have departed from God. And we can count on His judgment, if we do not repent. Today's church may spend too much time on the good news of salvation by grace, and not enough time on the bad news that judgment is coming because of sin. Lamentations helps us to remember why we need salvation. Its message is much needed in our day cf.
What does God's judgment of the church look like? Lack of influence, independence, insensitivity, and spiritual blindness are its telltale signs. Here are some additional values of this book. The theme of Lamentations is the sorrow of God. It reveals how God sorrows over the sins of His people and over the consequences that those sins bring upon them. It shows God grieving over His people, and the destruction of the holy city and its temple. It is a great revelation of the loving heart of God.
As we read and study the book, we should also note these lessons. Our generation's neglect of this volume has meant that our pastoral work, our caring ministry for believers, and our own ability to find direction in the midst of calamity, pain, and suffering have been seriously truncated and rendered partially or totally ineffective. The destruction and misery of Jerusalem the first lament ch. This acrostic lament contains a variety of similar statements describing the destruction and the consequent misery of Jerusalem. Thus, the two section titles that follow describe a slight shift in viewpoint, rather than a major division of the chapter into two distinct segments.
In the first part vv. In the second part vv. Here a kaleidoscope of images turns quickly from a lonely widow, to a degraded princess, to a whore, to a rape victim, to a betrayed lover, to an abandoned wife. All the dirges in Lamentations express the grief of the defeated Jerusalemites. But the miserable condition of the city is most prominent in this first one, not so much what she had undergone as what she had become. Jeremiah first viewed Jerusalem's destruction as an outsider looking in.
Verses describe the extent of the desolation and verses its cause. This verse actually begins with the word "Alas" Heb. Sitting alone is sometimes a picture of deep sorrow and mourning cf. Now the city, personified as a woman, was as solitary as a widow and as servile as a forced laborer. It had changed in three ways: numerically, economically, and socially. They have turned away from Him when they knew Him, and now their city is under siege. There is death in the city. Normally weeping gives way to sleep at night, but when it does not, sorrow is very great indeed.
In this exceptionally vivid depiction of the desolation of Zion, the city of God, this one phrase rings like the heavy gong of a funeral bell. Judah, the personified daughter of Jerusalem, had gone into exile because of the affliction and servitude that Yahweh had allowed Babylon to impose on her. She was out of the Promised Land, where God had said she would find rest cf.
Now there was no rest for her, but only distress, as the people lived among the Gentiles. No Judahites came to the feasts in Jerusalem because they were in exile. Consequently the roads mourned that pilgrims did not cover them with joyful song. Zion's gates missed the constant flow of people in and out of the city. The gates were where people congregated to transact business, to carry out legal transactions, and to socialize.
The few priests and virgins left there were lonely and miserable. It is a unique term, rather, for Jerusalem as the location of the cult, as the temple city, the dwelling place of YHWH. But "it is not Zion's daughter who is being addressed Zion has no daughter but Zion herself, who is classified as a 'daughter.
Zion's leaders "her majesty" , including Zedekiah and his advisers, had fled like frightened stags that could find no pasture—even though they had been strong in the past cf. She remembered how no other nations came to help her—but mocked her—when the Babylonians besieged her e. Jerusalem had embarrassed herself; her sins and vices had come to the light.
Jeremiah began to explain why calamity had befallen Jerusalem. Sin had stuck to her like dirt to the hem of a garment cf. Now the enemy had gained the upper hand and there was no one to comfort her. Gentiles and most Israelites were forbidden from entering the temple proper; only authorized Jewish priests could do so. The city cried out to Yahweh to look on her despised condition.
In contrast to the first half of the lament, these verses present the picture of an inside observer looking out. Verses record Jerusalem's call to people who had observed her desolation, and verses contain her call to the Lord. Her pain was uniquely great because the Lord had poured out His wrath on her. He had captured Jerusalem as a prisoner in His net.
Such nets are pictured in ancient battle scenes, and are mentioned by other biblical writers, for example, Ezek and …" . The Lord had thoroughly desolated and demoralized Jerusalem by removing all sustenance from her. This is a picture of a thoroughly "demoralized community. She had lost her freedom. Now others were controlling her, so that she could not stand by herself. At the very least the use of this particular name indicates specific, not general, types of judgment. Only by reducing sinners to such desperate straits will some eventually listen and turn.
Thus grief may often work a very wonderful work that none of the goodness or blessings of God will ever effect. He had squeezed all the life out of her. Apparently this festival replaces those lost in ! Four metaphors describe God's judgment of Jerusalem in the last four verses: fire v. The people were desolate because Jerusalem's enemy had prevailed. Stretching out the hands is also a posture in prayer, so the idea may be that there was no divine response when the people prayed. He also confessed for the city her rebellion against the Lord's commands.
Instead, the fact that God is love is played for all its worth. I agree that God is love, and the church certainly needs to learn to take the love of God into the marketplace of life. We have often failed to do that, but I feel that it has led to an over-emphasis on the love of God in this generation. God is righteous, and God is holy, and God is just in what He does.
Expositor's Bible: The Song of Solomon and the Lamentations of Jeremiah
God's punishment of Jerusalem had been just. She mourned the loss of her young citizens who were now in exile. Another interpretation is that the priests and elders were not wrong in seeking their own welfare. The streets and houses had become places of death and now stood empty. The city wished that God's predicted judgment of these enemies would come soon and that they would become like Jerusalem. But how? Jeremiah, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, would aid us in coping just as he aided himself and the grieving Jewish community on the heels of one of the greatest tragedies ever to befall Israel.
In one of the most tear-filled chapters of the five in Lamentations, Israel and the believing community through the centuries was taught about coping with grief. The divine punishment of Jerusalem the second lament ch. One of the striking features of this lament is its emphasis on God's initiative in bringing destruction on Jerusalem and its people. Jeremiah saw Him as the One ultimately responsible for what had happened because He was angry over their sins. This lament also describes in greater detail than chapter 1 the nature of the calamity that had befallen Judah.
Whereas in chapter 1 the city is the main focus of the prophet's sorrow, in chapter 2 it is more the temple. In both chapters, the narrator and Zion speak. Although God's anger is referred to in other chapters ; , 43, 66; ; , in Lamentations 2 we find a most detailed and resolute treatment of this difficult matter.
In fact, before we have gone ten verses into the chapter there are forty descriptions of God's judgment and anger. Few if any aspects of life eluded His anger. Some of the blackest phrases of the book appear here …" . The Lord had cast the city from the heights of glory to the depths of ignominy cf. It had been as a "footstool" for His feet, but He had not given it preferential treatment in His anger. The footstool may be a reference to the ark of the covenant cf. He humbled the kingdom of Judah and its princes.
Notice the increasingly narrow focus of God's anger: from all the "inhabitants," to the "strongholds" fortified cities , to the "princes" of the nation. He had judged Jacob severely, as when someone burns something up cf. The fire of His anger had burned her habitations. He destroyed everything that they valued.
He caused the ending of feasts and Sabbath observances in Zion, and showed no regard for the kings and priests of Judah. He had made it impossible for His people to worship Him corporately. Israel's enemy, rather than the Judahites, now made noise in the temple.
The Song of Solomon and the Lamentations of Jeremiah
But the poet is emphatic that weakness on God's part was not the reason for the loss of the sanctuary— Adonai himself lay behind the destruction of his temple. The expression implies intentional planning on God's part, which makes his action seem more cruel. The Mosaic Law now failed to govern the Israelites since they could no longer observe its cultic ordinances. Yahweh had also stopped giving His prophets revelations of His will. Girding with sackcloth and bowing to the ground also expressed grief over what the Lord had done.
Thus the Lord broke down the old male elders of the nation and its young female virgins, representing all the people, as well as its walls. He humbled the people to "the ground" as He reduced the city to "the ground. Instead His anger was measured out and controlled by both His love and justice. It was at once an expression of outrage against the sin, evil, and wickedness perpetrated as well as a personal note of continued caring.
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Had He not cared or loved so intently He would not have troubled Himself to call His wandering sinners back to His embrace. This section contains five pictures of Jerusalem's condition. The prophet observed small children and infants fainting in the streets for lack of food and drink. They were dying in their mothers' arms for lack of nourishment. Jerusalem was a place of starvation.
Comfort was beyond the scope of human words because the devastation of the city was unparalleled. No human being could heal her—only the Lord.
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Jerusalem was a place of no comfort. They had not told them the truth that would have led them to return to God and spared them from captivity. They may still have been failing the people. Ezek Now we learn that the reaction of these observers was not sorrow but shock and derision. Passersby expressed their amazement at Jerusalem's great destruction. They could hardly believe that it had been such a beautiful and happy place cf. Judah's enemies rejoiced to see the evidence of her fall.
They took pride in seeing her destruction. Jerusalem's destruction was the fulfillment of the destruction that Yahweh, long ago, had told His people might come cf. He was ultimately responsible for it. He had shown no mercy in judging, but instead had strengthened Judah's enemy against her and had caused him to rejoice at the city's overthrow.
Jerusalem was a place of mocking enemies. Rather, it was a specific act by God intended to punish the long-term sins of a specific nation, Israel. Thus, this verse has a very specific frame of reference and should not be applied to every city's fall. Since He had inflicted such a deep wound on the people, He was the only One who could heal it. Jerusalem was a place of ceaseless wailing.
How could God allow innocent children to suffer because of the sins of their parents? Perhaps a better question would be: How could parents continue to sin knowing that God would inevitably judge them and their children cf. How could they do that to their children? According to such a new beginning is not only possible; it is the way for the parents to redeem themselves and spare their offspring further agony. This last pericope is another prayer to the Lord cf.
The personified city prayed a prayer with an attitude of protest—"the strongest protest against God in the entire book. Would He allow such a fate for healthy children? Would He permit the slaying of Judahite priests and prophets in the very temple of the Lord? Jerusalem seems to be trying to shock the Lord into action. Instead of Israelite pilgrims coming to Jerusalem to celebrate one of the annual feasts, Israel's enemies had come to Jerusalem to feast on the Israelites! Thus there were "terrors on every side" cf.
This is hyperbolic language, since some people had survived the destruction of Jerusalem. The phrase "the day of the L ORD 's anger" closes this second chapter poem as it opened it cf. For example, Pss 74 and 89 mourn the loss of temple and Davidic monarchy. Besides expressing shock, sorrow, and confusion, these texts have a 'What now? In Lamentations[,] chapters 3—5 take up the 'What now?
Both Lamentations and Psalms use lament forms to express the many types and levels of pain and outrage Israel felt. The prophet's response to divine judgment the third lament ch. As mentioned previously, this lament is an acrostic in triplets; the same succeeding Hebrew consonant begins three verses instead of just one, as in the previous chapters. The verses are about one third as long as most of those in the first two chapters. This chapter also differs from the others in this book, in that: it contains a first-person narrative of the prophet's reactions to the sufferings he endured as the Lord's faithful servant.
It is similar to the "confessions" sections in the Book of Jeremiah, where the prophet opens up and lets the reader into his heart and mind cf. I am assuming that Jeremiah is the speaker, but many other individuals have been suggested: Jehoiachin, Zedekiah, an anonymous sufferer, a surviving soldier, a defeated strongman, a collective voice of the people, a prominent resident of Jerusalem, everyman, and the personified voice of the exile. Faithful servants of the Lord of all ages can identify with many of the prophet's sentiments expressed here. The title of Psalm could serve as an appropriate prefix to this chapter: "A prayer of the afflicted, when he is faint, and pours out his complaint to the Lord.
This chapter gives the book a positive framework around which the other chapters revolve. The black velvet of sin and suffering in chapters 1—2 and 4—5 serves as a fitting backdrop to display the sparkling brilliance of God's loyal love in chapter 3. In parts of this chapter, Jeremiah spoke for the people of Jerusalem and Judah, as well as for himself e.
The second section  highlights the speaker's response to God's sovereignty and goodness. The third section  calls for prayer in light of what Israel's enemies have done, and the fourth section  expresses confidence in God's positive actions on Israel's behalf. This structure moves readers, or attempts to move readers at least, from reflective advice to confidence in God's ultimate goodness. Job ; ; Ps. By describing himself as " the man," rather than a man, he may have been implying that he had suffered more than all in his community.
The Good Shepherd's "rod" had become an instrument of torture for him, rather than one of comfort cf. This third poem begins with the complaint of a man over grievous personal suffering. The Lord had disciplined him repeatedly for a long time, in that while He was judging Jerusalem, Jeremiah was suffering along with the people. The Lord's "hand" had been heavy upon him cf. Fever pains sometimes resemble the pain of a broken bone cf. He may have experienced these physical ailments, or he may have simply described his inner pain in terms of physical afflictions.
Jeremiah's existence had turned into a living death for him cf. Job ; Ps. He even discouraged Jeremiah from praying cf. It was as though the Lord had opposed Jeremiah's progress toward restoration and made it very difficult. The Lord had desolated Jeremiah by opposing his ways and making him feel torn apart. Job The arrows found their target in Jeremiah's internal organs cf. Job ; Prov. He was socially isolated in his suffering. He had become full of bitter experiences, like poison, which the Lord had given him to drink cf. He had also lost his strength and his hope.
So we will see ourselves and our own problems with suffering. Likewise, we also argue that the individual spoken about here is no one else but the prophet Jeremiah. And because he suffered representatively as God's delegated sufferer he mirrors perfectly, and by divine design, another prophet who would one day also suffer as did the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah — The next verse explains what that was.
But when we focus on the Lord, we are able finally to rise above, rather than to suffer under, our troubles. How can God be good in view of human suffering? The answer is that in the middle of all that suffering, God is faithful, merciful, and the one to whom people can turn and know that he is a good and merciful God. Though Israel sinned against God through idolatry, immorality, oppression, and other forms of long-term covenant adultery to such an extent that he finally punishes severely, the Lord will still start over with penitent Israelites. In other words, God's determination to bless and heal is as thorough and unusual as his determination to punish, if not more so.
The road back to covenantal relationship may well be long and difficult, especially given the level of sin and the depth of punishment. Nonetheless, it is possible to begin. His daily provision of manna for the Israelites in the wilderness was only one example of this. In this verse, Jeremiah addressed God Himself. The terms rendered 'love' [or "lovingkindness"] and 'faithfulness' are closely related in meaning [cf. They refer to God's devotion to His covenant people and to the promises He made to them.
Lamentations 3 Commentary - Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
He never cools off in His commitment to us. He never breaks a promise or loses enthusiasm. He stays near us when we reject His counsel and deliberately disobey Him just as much as when we are zealous for the truth. He remains intimately involved in our lives whether we are giving Him praise in prayer or grieving Him with our actions.
Whether we are running to Him or from Him, He remains faithful. His faithfulness is unconditional, unending, and unswerving. Nothing we do can diminish it, and nothing we stop doing can increase it. It remains great. Even when you blow it. Even when you make a stupid decision. Even when your world is shaken by betrayal. God's faithfulness never diminishes. It would be as if someone had stood up in one of the prison camps of the Third Reich and announced loudly: 'Great is God's faithfulness.
Chisholm b. It has also inspired modern composers e. They are new every morning, new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness, oh Lord, great is Thy faithfulness …". He reminded himself that Yahweh was his portion. Consequently he had hope cf. By calling the Lord his portion, the prophet was comparing Yahweh to an allotment of land that provides the necessities of life cf.
It is only after one has focused on God, rather than on one's own suffering, that he or she can provide real help for others who are suffering. Waiting for the Lord's deliverance silently is a good practice cf. But this advice seems to run contrary to the approach taken in the rest of the book where there is anything but silence.