In an introductory section we briefly dealt with Jeremiah as a
type of Christ. Insofar as the Lamentations portray Jeremiah as a suffering
servant, "called" to his mission even from his mother's womb (Jer 1:5, 9), a
"lamb brought to the slaughter" (11:5, 9), who yet prays for his nation and
weeps at their sorrows (9:1)... insofar as this, at least, Lamentations is also
a prophecy of the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also (and especially
in the long poem -- Lam 3) the book does what the Psalms do: it presents a
"biography" of Christ centered on his thoughts rather than his deeds.
In the panorama of Jeremiah's poetic vision, certain verses
stand out as "cameos", or "vignettes", of Christ. There is not so much a
progressive development (indeed, Lamentations scarcely yields itself to this in
any case) as there are delicate glimpses, here and there, of "the man who hath
seen affliction" (Lam 3:1). Any one such, by itself, may not seem significant;
but set them beside one another as so many strokes on a canvas, and finally a
poignant picture emerges.
1:12: "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass
Heedlessly the world passes by, on roads bound for nowhere.
They pause only to jeer or to shrug. Almost never are any arrested and convicted
by the spectacle of one whose sorrow exceeds the sorrow of all others. Has God
indeed afflicted him? Is he suffering the wrath of God?
"And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was
numbered with the transgressors (citing Isa 53:12). And they that
passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that
destroyest the Temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself, and come
down from the cross" (Mark 15:28-30).
Is it nothing to us, to see such a man? Does the
thought of his sufferings arrest us in our headlong flights through this
"vanity fair"? Do we examine ourselves? Do we repent? Do we rededicate
ourselves? Or do we instead take the bread and the wine with a practical air, a
ritual completed, a minor appointment kept and then forgotten until next week?
Is it nothing to us?
1:16: "For these things I weep; mine eye, mine
eye runneth down with water."
(Compare 2:11, 18; 3:48). Here was a man who was never far
from tears, a man who went often to the "house of mourning", and laid to heart
what he learned there (Eccl 7:2). He wept at the tomb of a friend (John 11:35).
And he wept over a city grown hard and calloused, a city soon to echo with the
cries, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" (Mat 23:37). Can we "weep" with this man? Can
we find the wisdom he found in sorrow? Can we, like him, submit our characters
to the perfecting process of suffering (Heb 5:7-9)? Can we, as he asked, take up
our "crosses" and follow him? Let us spurn forever the false gaiety, and the
foolish laughter that masks an empty heart. And let us learn more of this man of
sorrow. If we do, then out of our sorrow there will come at last a blessed and
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, "That ye shall weep and lament, but the
world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned
into joy" (John 16:20).
1:17, 18: "His adversaries" are "round
about him"... and yet "the LORD is righteous".
Jesus was not being punished for his own sins, but in his
sufferings God was demonstrating that the "flesh of sin" deserves only death. In
the death of His sinless Son, God was declaring Himself righteous (Rom 3:25).
And He was showing us what we, as sinners, deserve!
Consider the awesome character of this man. His adversaries
gather round him, to laugh and mock. He is enclosed by darkness, almost as
though forsaken by his Father. And yet this righteous man responds only with a
profound and absolute faith. In the wide swirling ocean of dark temptation, the
Saviour stands as a rock and a beacon. "Not my will but Thine be done."
"Thou art holy." "The Lord is righteous."
1:21: "All mine enemies have heard of my trouble;
they are glad that Thou hast done it: Thou wilt bring the day that Thou hast
called, and they shall be like unto me."
It was starkly and tragically true. Forty years later, the
hills surrounding Jerusalem were covered with Roman crosses, and on each one
hung a Jew who had rejected his crucified Messiah!
2:22: "Thou didst invite as to the day of an appointed
feast my terrors on every side" (RSV).
The "appointed feast" was no doubt the Passover. The time of
the Passover came, and the guests arrived at the feast. But, in an enormous
irony, the "guests" were "terrors on every side" -- bulls and lions and fierce
dogs (Psa 22:12,13,16), snarling and tearing and devouring the Passover "lamb"!
And Jesus was the "feast", the "lamb"! "This bread is my body; this cup is my
blood." "For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us."
3:1: "I am the man that hath seen affliction by the
rod of His wrath."
"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet
we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted" (Isa 53:4).
3:5: "He hath... compassed me with gall and
travail" Psa 69:21; Mat 27:34.
3:6: "He hath set me in dark places."
And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over
all the earth until the ninth hour (Lk. 23:44).
3:7: "He hath hedged me about"... with
Jesus was the "ram" caught in the thicket, the sacrifice
provided by Yahweh (Gen 22:13, 14), hedged about by a crown of thorns.
3:8: "Also when I cry and shout, He shutteth out my
prayer." "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" (Psa 22:1; Mat
27:46; Mark 15:34).
3:9: "He hath enclosed my ways with hewn
"And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and
laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock; and rolled a stone unto
the door of the sepulchre" (Mark
3:12, 13: "He hath bent his bow, and set me as a
mark for the arrow. He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my
reins." "They pierced my hands and my feet" (Psa 22:16).
3:14: "I was a derision to all my people; and
their song all the day."
3:27: "It is good for a man that he bear the yoke
in his youth."
The yoke that Jesus bore from his youth was a lifetime of
perfect obedience to the will of God. "Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it
is written of me, I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy law is within my
heart" (Psa 40:7, 8; Heb 10:7-9). This is why Jesus could say that his yoke was
easy, and his burden was light (Mat 11:28, 29)! This is why he could offer it to
us to share with him! Because it was a pure delight to do the Father's will! Is
it so with us?
3:28: "He sitteth alone and keepeth
The perfect man, Jesus Christ, walking not in the way of
sinners (Psa 1), who was separate from sinners, holy, harmless, and undefiled
(Heb 7:26, 27).
3:29: "He putteth his mouth in the
Jesus was led away to Golgotha, bearing on his beaten and
bloody shoulders the stake on which he as "serpent" would be lifted up (Num
21:9; John 3:14; 12:32). He bore also, in his sorrow, the burden of our sins. He
was exhausted, more exhausted than words could tell, and he stumbled and fell.
The rough, heavy wooden beam was too much for him. He lay there in the dust. And
the words of the curse were emblazoned across the scene:
"Thou art cursed... upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat..."
3:30: "He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth
him: he is filled with reproach."
Compare Isa 50:6; Mat 5:39.
3:31-33: Here, "buried" in an obscure corner of the Old
Testament, is God's reason for the atonement! He does not willingly afflict His
children. Although He must cause grief -- even to His beloved Son -- there is a
surpassing and eternal purpose. God causes grief so that He, the Righteous One,
might then righteously have compassion on sinners! Who could ask for anything
more? Praise be to God!
3:40-42: A righteous man is afflicted, chastened,
smitten, and then crucified. Is it nothing to us? What is the result? What
should be the result?
"Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD... We have
transgressed, and have rebelled."
A righteous man is crucified, and sinners repent! A righteous
man dies, and sinners are born again! "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless
I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the
flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for
me" (Gal 2:20).
3:52-57: Here is death, and burial (v 53). But, as with
Abel, the "blood" of the righteous calls out of the earth (vv 55, 56) -- not
this time for vengeance, but for redemption. Let us make that cry
"Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon Thee:
Thou saidst, Fear not."