Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Lametations "Total Anguish" 2/3|
Chs.2 & 3
Chapter: Lam 2
Passage: Lam 2:14-19
A. Find Out:
1. How had the prophets failed? v.14
2. How do passers by deride the city? v.15
3. How are her enemies feeling satisfied? v.16
4. What has the Lord done? v.17
5. So who cries out and who should weep? v.18
6. What is the call to do? v.19
1. How are v.14-17 ‘general assessment' verses?
2. How are verses 18 & 19 quite different?
From the anguish of the people, the writer turns back to the causes of what has happened and the ensuing result. There had been ongoing sin in the city and the prophets of Israel had not spoken out to bring the people to repentance and to avoid the captivity (v.14).
The result of that failure of the prophets to do their job, had been the destruction of the city, so complete that passers by who knew Jerusalem of old would remark at the terrible downfall (v.15). Because she is brought down, the enemies of Jerusalem would feel satisfied and good about it (v.16). The downfall had been what the Lord had warned would happen (v.17) when He established Israel (see Lev 26:1-45 & Deut 28:15-68), if they failed to follow His ways.
Then the tone changes to a call to prayer (v.18,19). The hearts of the people are crying out to the Lord for help. The prophet appeals to the “wall of the daughter of Zion ”. Zion is Jerusalem , the daughter of the city is the last generation. The wall, we suggest is the last (outer) remnant of the people who are the last signs of the city, the last inhabitants. Yes weep, says the Lord, for that is appropriate, keep on crying out for the city. Cry out in the night? Night is a time of darkness and surely refers to the present season of anguish after destruction. Pour out your hearts, stretch out your hands in supplication to the Lord. Seek Him, call upon Him for the sake of this starving remnant.
1. God always warns before bringing judgement.
2. The call to prayer is a call of hope, that God will change this.
Chapter: Lam 2
Passage: Lam 2:20-22
A. Find Out:
1. What does the prophet-writer ask the Lord to do? v.20a
2. Who does he ask to be thought about first? v.20b
3. Who does he ask about second? v.20c
4. Who does he refer to next? v.21
5. What two contrasts had the Lord summoned? v.22a
6. What was the outcome? v.22b,c
1. How does the direction of writing now change?
2. What is the prophet's plea?
3. Why do you think he asks this?
The prophet-writer has just called to the people to pray. Now he turns to face the Lord, so to speak. He asks the Lord to look on what He has done and think about it. Where have you ever done anything like this before? It is an implied cry for the Lord to back-up from what He's done. In verse 19 we saw a call to the people to pray. There is no point in praying unless there is a hope that God will answer and do something and change what seems the end to this people. Therefore implied behind this call to the Lord to look again, must also come this hope that the Lord will respond and change things.
Lord, look on all this again. See the women who are starving, being pushed to almost eat their own children to survive. Look into what was your Sanctuary, and see the bodies of priests and prophets, your representatives to the people. Look around the streets and see the bodies of the young people, the next generation, who still lie there. Lord, it seems you slaughtered them without thought (implied), surely that is not how you work? Lord, you called Israel to be a feasting people in their celebrating of their relationship with you. Now you called for their destruction. Is that really what you want (implied)? In this the prophet catches the Lord's heart, for it's not what He wants. He has more.
1. When we pray our aim should be to sense God's heart.
2. Thus, when we pray, we are to catch God's heart and attention.
Chapter: Lam 3
Passage: Lam 3:1-9
A. Find Out:
1. Where did the prophet walk and why? v.1-3,6
2. What does he feel has happened to him? v.4
3. With what has he been surrounded? v.5
4. What does he feel has happened? v.7
5. What does he feel about his prayers? v.8
6. What has the Lord done to him? v.9
1. How does this passage differ from what has gone before?
2. Summarise the things the writer feels have been done to him.
The first 24 verses of chapter 3 are characterised by the word, “me” and “I”. In other words they are spoken from a very person viewpoint. Whether they are spoken as from Jeremiah, or from some imaginary person, or from Jerusalem personified is not made clear – poetry is often like that; it leaves you wondering.
This man declares, first of all, that he's been beaten by God and driven away from God's presence (implied) into a place of darkness (see the link with 2:19 ). The first stage of judgment is exclusion from God's presence.
But it doesn't end there. It's not merely a place of isolation, it's a place of affliction (v.4) characterised by bitterness and hardship (v.5), a place that is indeed truly dark (v.6). The second stage of judgement is anguish . It is a place that is intolerable. We yearn to get out of it.
But then comes a third awareness – we cannot escape from it. It's like we've been walled in and chained up so there is no escape (v.7) and there is no answer when we cry out (v.8). In daily life the way ahead seems blocked off and our path seems to be all over the place (v.9).
These are the terrible characteristics of the judgement of God - isolation, anguish and an inability to escape or change it all. Judgement is not a casual thing to be spoken about. When God brings it, it is terrible in every aspect of it. We don't want to go there!
1. If God judges, there is no escape. He is the Lord.
2. Judgement is avoided by heart-felt repentance.
Chapter: Lam 3
Passage: Lam 3:10-18
A. Find Out:
1. What did the writer say it felt like the Lord had done? v.10,11
2. What other analogy does he use for what had happened? v.12,13
3. What also had he to endure? v.14
4. What did it feel like? v.15
5. What also had happened to him? v.16
6. And how had he been left? v.17,18
1. How many different pictures of what had happened are here?
2. What is the feeling you are left with about what happened?
You might wonder why we take what is a mournful poem verse by verse. The answer is so that, like the prophet, we have a chance to enter into the awfulness of what had happened. From head to heart!
These verses, we said previously, were very personal. Whether a person or Jerusalem itself is not clear, but the prophet-writer-poet uses lots of different pictures to convey what he felt had happened. First, he says it was like I was mugged by a bear, snatched from the path of life and mauled (v.10,11). Or, he continues, it was like I was picked out by an archer; my heart was made a target (v.12,13) and I am in deep anguish as a result. It was like (third picture) I was tramped underfoot (v.16), stamped into the gravel, my teeth broken by the force against the road surface. Note these three attacks: grabbed off the path of life, picked out and pierced, trampled underfoot and made a nothing; three different expressions of the same terrible thing. Think on them more.
The results? First, as far as others are concerned, I'm a mockery (v.14), an object of derision. Second, as far as I'm concerned, I feel sick (v.15), and third, as far as my life is concerned generally, I'm left poverty-stricken (v.17,18) and all of his previous splendour in life had been taken. More and more the writer piles on the various descriptions to try to convey, more and more, the awfulness of what had happened so that we may enter into it and understand it.
1. By understanding, we may act to ensure it never happens again.
2. Do we stop and really take note of what God has done in life?
Chapter: Lam 3
Passage: Lam 3:19-26
A. Find Out:
1. What does he remember and with what effect upon him? v.19,20
2. Yet what gives him hope? v.21,22a
3. How does he describe the Lord's blessings? v.22b,23
4. What did he determine to do? v.24
5. The Lord is good to whom? v.25
6. So what is it good to do? v.26
1. What was his initial state?
2. Yet what did he know about the Lord?
3. So what did he resolve to do?
This is the high point of the book! It starts, continuing with what has gone before, with an awareness of his present state (v.19). He remembers the awfulness of what has happened to him (affliction), being left like a waif and stray (wandering), in complete turmoil over what had happened (bitterness) and feeling sick (gall). In this awareness he feels completely down (v.20). Yet that is only part of the truth. That is the truth about what has happened to him in his experience, but there is also what he knows about God. That is the other part of the truth to be held onto! The reality is they have not been consumed (v.22), they are still alive and the only reason he can see for that is God's love. It's only because God loves them that they are still there. God's acts of compassion will always be seen in any and every situation, however bad it seems. For every new day there are new acts of God's compassion for the Lord is faithful and will never abandon his people (v.23).
He reminds himself of what he knows of the Lord: God always blesses those who seek Him. This is a cast iron certainty and this gives him hope. In the face of all that has happened, there is only one thing left to do, to wait for the Lord, to seek Him and see what He will do next. He has this sure knowledge: God is, God acts and God will continue to act for the good of His people. You've just got to be patient and look.
1. In the face of adversity, remember what you know of the Lord.
2. Let that knowledge give you hope; there IS a future with God.
Chapter: Lam 3
Passage: Lam 3:27-39
A. Find Out:
1. What is good? v.27
2. What 4 things should he ‘let' happen? v.28-30
3. Why may he be able to do this? v.31-33
4. What four wrongs would the Lord see? v.34-36
5. What does he say about such things? v.37,38
6. So what does he conclude? v.39
1. What two reasons are given why the prophet can wait?
2. What is he essentially doing in this passage?.
Having declared that the Lord is good, he now goes about justifying what has happened in the light of that truth. OK, he says, it's a good thing to be trained up (the yoke indicates being harnessed – see Mt 11:29 ) when a man is young (perhaps a wry indication that he believes he still has many more years). This training involves learning to be silent (v.28) when everything in you wants to cry out. Face down in the dust (v.29) means learning humility and perseverance, openly facing his judge (v.30a) to receive whatever punishment is due. Let him receive the condemnation that is due – the disgrace (v.30b).
It's good to learn these things because it won't go on forever (v.31), God's compassion will show through (v.32) because He doesn't willingly bring these things (v.33) and will want to move on soon (implied). All these wrongs which we've observed – the land crushed under an invader (v.34), people snatched into slavery (v.35), justice apparently removed (v.36) – God sees and will do not leave them like this. These things couldn't have happened without the Lord's approval (v.37), He decrees both good and bad (v.38), so if He decrees judgement, why should we, the guilty, complain? (v.39).
This is both a passage of understanding and therefore of hope. He understands the Lord in a measure and that measure helps him see why it has happened and that this is NOT the end. There is yet hope!
1. Do we seek to understand the things that happen in our world?
2. Are we reassured, do we have hope for the future?
A. Find Out:
1. What twofold thing does he say they should do? v.40
2. What is the first stage of the second thing? v.41,42a
3. What had the Lord not done and so had done? v.42b,43
4. What also did it seem He had done? v.44
5. What had the Lord done with them? v.45-47
6. What had that left him feeling and why? v.48-51
1. If there was to be any hope, what was to happen?
2. What signs are there of this happening?
The prophet has come through to a place of accepting that all that has happened, has happened justly because of the sin of Jerusalem and because of the Lord's righteous judgement. He has arrived at the place of recognition of the NEED TO RETURN TO THE LORD. They had been away from the Lord for so long and had been judged as a result of that. The only hope for their future is to turn back to God. Now if that was to be meaningful they would have to face the truth about themselves, the truth about what had happened and go to the Lord with it in repentance. Merely saying sorry because of unpleasant circumstances is not repentance. Repentance truly faces the sin, acknowledges it, is sorry for it (not just for the judgement but for the sin that brought the judgement), and genuinely turns away from it.
The prophet thus TURNS TO THE LORD (v.43-) having acknowledged their sin and rebellion (v.42) and first of all declares his recognition of what the Lord has done: Because of their long-term rejection of the Lord, the Lord has put on anger (v.43). It was not a quick burst of anger but something sustained because of the ingrained nature of this sin. The nature of the anger reflected the nature of the sin. The Lord cut Himself off from them (v.44), a further indication of the depth of their sin, and then gave them over to the enemy so anguish is the outcome (v.45-48). All this indicates the depth of the sin.
1. Repentance means life change, not merely words.
2. Repentance involves genuinely facing the truth.