Lamentations 4: The Past Compared with
Comments: Jeremiah reflects back to the past and considers
the changes. What was glorious has gone [v.1], the once glorious
people of God, now as nothing [v.2] and only concerned for their
own survival [v.3]. Once food was in abundance but now they starve
[v.4,5]. What has happened here makes the destruction of Sodom
seem a minor affair [v.6], the rulers who once stood out now seem
as nothing [v.7,8], the famine in the city makes one wonder if
death is preferable [v.9,10]. The truth is that no one believed
that the Lord would allow such a thing (let alone do it!) and
it's all happened because the priests and the prophets failed
in their jobs [v.11-13] and now they are despised and scattered
[v.14-17]. Inside and outside the city they feel unsafe from attackers
[v.18,19] and with the king now gone the land has been stripped
and given to those who were their enemies – Edom who helped Nebuchadnezzar
[v.20,21], yet this punishment will not go on for ever [v.22].
It is of limited duration.]
That which was full of splendour & glorious has now gone
gold has lost its luster, the fine gold become dull! The sacred
gems are scattered at every street corner.
Those who were seen as children of God are now seen as nothing
in His hands
precious children of Zion, once worth their weight in gold, are
now considered as pots of clay, the work of a potter's hands!
Wild animals provide for their young but my people are reduced
jackals offer their breasts to nurse their young, but my people
have become heartless like ostriches in the desert.
Those who once had plenty now starve & thirst
of thirst the infant's tongue sticks to the roof of its mouth;
the children beg for bread, but no one gives it to them.
who once ate delicacies are destitute in the streets. Those brought
up in royal purple now lie on ash heaps.
This is worse than that which history records of Sodom's destruction
of my people is greater than that of Sodom, which was overthrown
in a moment without a hand turned to help her.
Those once glorious rulers are now refugee charcoal
princes were brighter than snow and whiter than milk, their bodies
more ruddy than rubies, their appearance like lapis lazuli.
now they are blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the
streets. Their skin has shriveled on their bones; it has become
as dry as a stick.
The extent of the famine means death is preferable
killed by the sword are better off than those who die of famine;
racked with hunger, they waste away for lack of food from the
their own hands compassionate women have cooked their own children,
who became their food when my people were destroyed.
No one believed this could happen to Jerusalem but God has done
has given full vent to his wrath; he has poured out his fierce
anger. He kindled a fire in Zion that consumed her foundations.
of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the peoples of the
world, that enemies and foes could enter the gates of Jerusalem.
happened because of the sins of her prophets
and the iniquities of her priests, who shed within
her the blood of the righteous.
Prophets & priests are unclean & despised and there is
no one to help
grope through the streets as if they were blind. They are so defiled
with blood that no one dares to touch their garments.
away! You are unclean!” people cry to them. “Away! Away! Don't
touch us!” When they flee and wander about, people among the nations
say, “They can stay here no longer.”
himself has scattered them; he no longer watches over them. The
priests are shown no honor, the elders no favor.
our eyes failed, looking in vain for help; from our towers we
watched for a nation that could not save us.
The city became, and still is, unsafe
us at every step, so we could not walk in our streets. Our end
was near, our days were numbered, for our end had come.
were swifter than eagles in the sky; they chased us over the mountains
and lay in wait for us in the desert.
The Lord's representative is gone, our land given to others –
for a time
anointed, our very life breath, was caught in their traps. We
thought that under his shadow we would live among the nations.
and be glad, Daughter Edom, you who live in the land of Uz. But
to you also the cup will be passed; you will be drunk and stripped
punishment will end, Daughter Zion; he will not prolong your exile.
But he will punish your sin, Daughter Edom, and expose your wickedness.
A chapter of comparison, remembering the past and facing
what now is. It is an unhappy picture!]