Several lessons recur often throughout this book. The most
obvious is this: That we may see, in the plight of Jeremiah and Judah, both the
sufferings of Christ and the persecutions and trials of the saints in this
Gentile world. We are the saints, the people or nation whom God has separated to
bear His Name, and ultimately to bear His glory -- if we are worthy. But we have
not been separated to a life of ease or luxury. Instead we have committed
ourselves to the loss of worldly possessions and honours and to chastisement at
the hand of our Father in Heaven --
"Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us:
We well know that--
consider, and behold our reproach!"
"No chastening for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous" (Heb
Therefore, may we have the wisdom and foresight to realize our
weakness and to lean on the mercy of God --
"Arise, cry out in the night:
And we learn at last that nothing can separate us from the
love of God, which is in Christ (Rom 8:38). We must accept chastisement in order
to be true sons; Paul tells us that God chastises us for our profit, that we
might be partakers of His holiness (Heb 12:10):
in the beginning of the watches
pour out thine heart like water
before the face of the Lord"
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us afar
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2Co
Another point amply demonstrated is that all nations and their
affairs are controlled by God (Dan 2:21; 4:17, 25) according to His purpose with
Israel. Israel--both natural and spiritual -- may "give the hand" to the
Egyptians and Assyrians at the present time (5:6). She may be trodden down by
"Edom" for now (4:21). But when God has waited long enough, the respective
fortunes of Jew and Gentile will change quite drastically, and God will elevate
His people and render unto the others--
"A recompense... sorrow of heart, and thy curse..."
Paul told the brethren at Corinth that--
"ALL THINGS are for your sakes" (2Co 4:15).
Jesus told his listeners of certain times being
"For the elect's sake."
If we would only let this truth sink into our hearts, never
could we become discouraged or feel neglected!
Finally, the principle of responsibility to God is emphasized
throughout Lamentations. The practical and Scriptural belief is that the sorest
punishment is visited upon those who are most responsible -- that is, those who
have the most knowledge. To whom much is given, much will be required in the day
of God's visitation. The nation of Judah was more responsible to God than were
the other nations of their time--
"You only have I known of all the families of the earth:
This sense of being known of God is explained in Psa
therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities" (Amos
"He sheweth His Word unto Jacob,
The Jews who refused to heed God's messengers, and who
followed their own evil inclinations -- neglecting His testimony -- received the
sorer punishment befitting their status --
His statutes and His judgments unto Israel.
He hath not dealt so with any (other) nation:
and as for His judgments, they have not known them" (vv
"For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of My people is greater
than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and
no hands stayed on her" (4:6).Sodom had been exceedingly wicked, but her
punishment was swift, and therefore less painful than that of Judah--whose final
sufferings were intense and drawn-out (4:8-10).
"If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom
This can be a wonderful assurance, but the solemn, sobering
truth is that the God Who fights for us may very well come to fight against us
-- as He fought against Jerusalem (2:5-7). It is for us to ponder this
carefully, and to put ourselves in the place of Judah--
"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples (Gr. 'types');
and they are written for our admonition..." (1Co 10:11).
The central thought of Lamentations is found precisely in the
center of the book. The proper climax is 3:19-36. Of these verses 31-33 must be
singled out particularly--
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" (Heb
"For the Lord will not cast off forever:
The book progresses from an early feeling of shame and
bewilderment to a growing awareness and appreciation of God's presence and His
hand in man's affairs -- both to chasten and to save. What man finds difficult
to remember is that disobedience inevitably brings chastisement. The
non-repentant will suffer the judgments, woes and desolations brought by God.
The faithful remnant are repentant, accepting chastisement as a necessity for
building character, knowing that –
But though He cause grief
yet will He have compassion
according to the multitude of His mercies.
For He doth not afflict willingly
nor grieve the children of men."
"God will not forget in need
Zion, who mourns her desolation and weeps sorely in the night
(1:2), is in the end comforted by the birth of new sons, whose days are renewed
as of old (5:21).
the man that trusts in Him
Patience, endurance and godliness are characteristics of the
true Israelite. The true Israelite offers a confident prayer of deliverance from
the oppressor and a longing prayer for justification and glorification. Sorrow
gives way to a new hope--
"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psa
In the analysis, note the emphasis on "affliction", and the
progression: Jerusalem's affliction (Lam 1) is brought by God (Lam 2) and is
necessary (Lam 3) because of her persistent apostasy (Lam 4), but she will at
last be delivered from affliction (Lam 5). Note also the succession of prayers
at the ends of the chapters, growing in length and intensity until culminating
in the extended prayer, filling all of Lam 5 (see notes on structure).