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FRAMEWORKS: Lamentations

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FRAMEWORKS: Lamentations 5: Prayer over the Disgrace of Israel & Jerusalem


[Preliminary Comments: Chapter 5 is essentially Jeremiah's prayer to the Lord, a plea for Him to look again at their state [v.1]

Why does he plead? [v.2-5] Because of the state of the Land. This ‘Promised Land' has been given to others [v.2] and the community of God's people is in total disarray [v.3], in economic need [v.4] and on the run from the enemy [v.5].

Why were they punished? [v.6,7] Because of their long-term disobedience. In the past they looked to others for help [v.6] and failed to rely on the Lord and so are being punished for their sin [v.7].

Why (again) does he plead? [v.8-18] Because of the state of the people: slaves [v.8], on the edge of starvation [v.9,10], their women ravished [v.11], their government gone [v.12], their young people struggling [v.13], joy has gone [v.14,15], their king has gone [v.16], they have little hope for the future [v.17] while the city remains a ruin [v.18].

And so… [v.19-22] He concludes by moving away from recounting what now is, to pleading to the God who he knows is still sovereign [v.19] but who appears to have left them [v.20] with a plea that He will restore them to Himself [v.21] unless they have gone too far [v.22]. He leaves it there, hanging in the air, so to speak, pleading for mercy they do not deserve.]



v.1 A Plea


v.1 A plea for the Lord to see their state


v.1  Remember, LORD, what has happened to us; look, and see our disgrace. 


v.2-5 The State of the Land (1)


v.2 Our ‘Promised land' has been given to others


v.2  Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our homes to foreigners. 


v.3 Our families are broken up


v.3  We have become fatherless, our mothers are widows. 


v.4 We've been reduced to poverty and economic hardship


v.4   We must buy the water we drink; our wood can be had only at a price. 


v.5 We are constantly being chased by our enemies


v.5  Those who pursue us are at our heels; we are weary and find no rest. 



v.6-7 The Sin of the Past


v.6 We looked to others in the past to help provide for us


v.6  We submitted to Egypt and Assyria to get enough bread. 


v.7 But they sinned by not relying on God and so we are being punished


v.7  Our ancestors sinned and are no more, and we bear their punishment. 



v.8-10 The State of the Land (2)


v.8 We are now slaves to slaves, that's how low we have sunk


v.8  Slaves rule over us, and there is no one to free us from their hands. 


v.9 Even trying to get food is life-threatening


v.9  We get our bread at the risk of our lives because of the sword in the desert. 


v.10 We scorch in the desert as we seek food


v.10  Our skin is hot as an oven, feverish from hunger. 



v.11-18 The State of the People


v.11 Our women and girls have been violated by the invaders in the land


v.11  Women have been violated in Zion, and virgins in the towns of Judah. 


v.12 Our remaining leaders are either dead or disregarded


v.12  Princes have been hung up by their hands; elders are shown no respect. 


v.13 Our young people struggle to work


v.13  Young men toil at the millstones; boys stagger under loads of wood. 


v.14,15 Our government has gone and joy has left our people


v.14  The elders are gone from the city gate; the young men have stopped their music. 

v.15  Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning. 


v.16 The sign of blessing & authority has gone because of our sin


v.16  The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned! 


v.17 We feel so low we have little hope for the future


v.17  Because of this our hearts are faint, because of these things our eyes grow dim 


v.18 Our Jerusalem is desolate, the haunt of wild animals


v.18  for Mount Zion, which lies desolate, with jackals prowling over it. 



v.19-22 Further appeal to the Lord


v.19 Yet you Oh Lord are still sovereign ruler


v.19  You, LORD, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation. 


v.20 Why have you appeared to have left us for so long?


v.20  Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long? 


v.21 Please ….. bring us back to yourself, restore us to what once was


v.21  Restore us to yourself, LORD, that we may return; renew our days as of old 


v.22 … that is unless you have decided to completely abandon us…


v.22  unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.



[Additional Comments: It is only when you start itemizing all these things that you catch something more of the awfulness of the catastrophe that was the taking into exile the people of Jerusalem but, even more, the destruction of Jerusalem, the city of God, and of the Temple, the House of God. The prayer pointers in this chapter highlight just how bad it was. If the previous chapters hadn't conveyed that sufficiently, this chapter certainly does. Again, the book needs seeing in historical context so make sure you have read the Introduction.]