The Agora
The Lamentations of Jeremiah

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Chapter 3 (Verse by Verse)

Verses 1-18: DARKNESS, AFFLICTION, DERISION, but "The Lord is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2Pe 3:9).

Verse 1:

"I am the man": Jeremiah speaks for his nation Israel -- God's "firstborn" (Exo 4:22), who is afflicted, with the purpose of calling back the wicked (Ezek 33:11).

Jeremiah speaks for Jesus as well -- and as a type of himself and all the saints, for whom Jesus is the primary example to follow. Jesus was the only-begotten of the Father (John 1:14; 3:16) -- and thus the "firstborn". He was afflicted (Isa 53:4), and he learned obedience by the things he suffered (Heb 5:8; Phi 2:5-8), being rewarded by his Father as the "firstfruits of them that sleep."

"That hath seen": "To see" in Hebrew idiom often means 'to experience' (Jer 5:12; Psa 16:10; Eccl 8:16).

"That hath seen affliction by ('under': RSV) the rod of His wrath": The rod is an expression for correction (see Job 37:13, where "correction" is the identical word as "rod" here), punishment, and tribulation.

God used Babylon as His rod to punish Israel, just as He had previously needed to use Assyria as the "rod of his anger" (Isa 10:5, 15). Note Rev 11:1 and Lam 2:8, notes -- where the punishment of Israel is seen to be only of a limited duration.

Christ suffered because of his fleshly nature, which made him susceptible to temptations and because his death was necessary to save himself as well as others. But the "rod" of God's correction was not used upon him, for he never sinned. However, those in Christ -- the saints, the multitudinous Christ -- do feel this rod of correction. The promise to David speaks of the Messiah, and God tells him: "I will be his Father, and he shall be My son..." (2Sa 7:14).

The second part of that verse, however, can scarcely, if at all, be applied to Christ:

"If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men..."
This part of the verse seems definitely to apply to believers in Christ, whom God will correct as children. The Psalmist, in referring to this verse (2Sa 7:14), alluded to its plural application (see Psa 89:30, 32; cp Paul in 2Co 6:18; Gal 3:29).

"The man that has seen affliction" has gained knowledge of some of the deepest facts of life. He can scarcely help being wiser--and more sympathetic and thoughtful of others -- than he was before the pain came. And if he thankfully receives the affliction as sent from God, and meant for his good, then he will become by the Divine discipline more righteous than he would ever have been otherwise. The fruitful branch, when it is pruned, becomes even more fruitful.

Verse 2:

"He hath led me, and brought me into darkness": Most versions have "he has driven me into..." The "darkness" is the darkness of night (1:2), of the grave, and of the eclipse of the Jewish "star" in the "heavens" (2:1). See vv 53-55; compare Amos 5:18.

Verse 3:

"He turned His hand against me all the day": The Hebrew idiom expresses repeated action. "And I will turn My hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy sin..." (Isa 1:25).

Verse 4:

"My flesh and my skin": Israel's fleshly, natural ways; her trust in her own strength and the strength of her Gentile friends, such as Egypt.

"Hath He made old": The verb means "to waste away", or "to wear out by rubbing", and is used of old clothes.

"He hath broken my bones": Hezekiah compared God with a lion: "As a lion has He broken my bones" (Isa 38:13). (The bones of an old person are easily broken).

Verse 5:

"He hath builded against me": A siege -- vv 7-9.

"Gall": Bitter sorrow (as in Jer 8:14). Compare Jesus in Psa 69:21 and Mat 27:34 ("Vinegar mingled with gall"). The word appears again in Lam 3:19.

Verse 6:

This whole verse is a direct quotation from Psa 143:3, a psalm of David beseeching God's help in time of trouble -- easily attributable prophetically to the Lord Jesus in the calamity of his crucifixion.

"He hath set me in dark places": Dark, cave-like sepulchres (cp Psa 88:6).

This may signify either:

  1. The grave, "hades", as in a political death for Israel (cp Ezek 37:2); or
  2. A dungeon, as where Jeremiah was detained (v 53; Jer 37:16); or
  3. Christ's death and burial (Mat 27:66).
"As they that be dead of old": Or, "they that have been dead since ancient times" -- Men have always died, due to Adam's sin (Rom 5:12), from the very beginning; and nations also "die" (Isa 14:9-11), since God rules in them (Dan 4:17, 25) and since only the Kingdom of God will be perpetual.

Verse 7:

"He hath hedged me about": In the past, God had fenced Israel with a fiery wall of protection (Exo 14:19, 20; Zec 2:5); and He will do so again in the future (Zec 9:8; Isa 4:5; 60:18).

But, during the time of Jeremiah, Israel had sinned grievously, and the hedge became a hedge of thorns (as in Hos 2:6, 7), and a prison (cp Job 19:8), symbolizing God's purpose of correction with His people (which they cannot alter), leading (eventually) to their return to Him, their Husband.

Every life is surrounded by divine limitations -- God hedges us all about, in one way or another. For one there may be physical limitations -- of health or disability or advancing age. Another might feel most severely the limitation of poverty; another yet, the lack of education. If we accept our Father's will, then we will accept, and graciously live with, the "hedges" He has imposed upon us. But if we, fret and grumble and batter against these "fences" and "chains", then we are rebelling against God and neglecting our unique opportunities to do the good which God has placed within our own power. As one brother expressed it, we must do what we can, with what we have, where we are. We are not responsible for what we cannot do, nor for what we do not have, nor for where we cannot go.

"My chain": Literally, "fetters of bronze". Compare "the yoke of my transgression" (1:14). And see also 5:5.

Verse 8:

"Also when I cry and shout, He shutteth out my prayer": Cp v 44. Also, compare Christ when he was "forsaken" by his Father (Psa 22:1, 2; Mat 27:46).

Verse 9:

"Hewn stones": Which fit together tight and make a stronger barrier than ordinary stones. "He hath made my paths crooked": Note also Isa 63:17:

"O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear?"
The true picture is that God was long-suffering for a time, but then He allowed and even encouraged Israel to harden her heart even further. See note, 2:13 ("He hath turned me back").

Verse 10:

"A bear lying in wait": One of the 4 world-empires, and a ruler over the Jews, was the Medo-Persian Empire, "a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had 3 ribs in the mouth..." (Dan 7:5).

"As a lion": The symbol of Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon (Dan 7:4).

Verse 11:

"He hath made me desolate": Astonished, stupefied, terrified. Note Isa 3:26, Mat 23:38 ("Your house is left unto you desolate").

Verse 12:

"As a mark ('target' -- NIV) for the arrow": God first of all spoke to His people by the prophets, charging them with their sins and "marking" them for judgment. Arrows are often figurative for disease (Job 34:6; Psa 91:5) or other sorrows sent by God (Deut 32:23).

Verse 13:

"He hath caused the arrows (lit., 'children') of His quiver to enter into my reins": Then, after the warnings, came the actual judgments. See Job 6:4; 7:20; 16:12, 13; Psa 38:2.

Verse 14:

Compare 2:15; Psa 22:6. 7; Mat 27:39-44.

"I was a derision ('laughingstock' -- NIV) to all my people": Especially, note Christ's experiences (Psa 69:12) -- "His own received him not" (John 1:11); "No prophet is accepted in his own country" (Luke 4:24).

"Their song all the day": Verse 63; Jer 20:7.

Verse 15:

"He hath filled me with bitterness": Bitter herbs (Exo 12:8) of sorrow and grief.

"He hath made me drunken with wormwood": To fulfill Jeremiah's prophecy (Jer 9:15).

Verse 16:

"He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones": Gravel and grit from the fire, in the bread baked in ashes -- thus implying extreme poverty and hardship. Compare Pro 20:17:

"Bread of deceit is sweet to a man:
but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel."
Jesus figuratively contrasts bread and stones in Mat 7:9.

"He hath covered me with ashes": mourning at the loss of fleshly strength and glory (cp Jer 6:26; Job 2:8). The RSV and Rotherham have "made me cower in ashes".

Verse 17:

"And Thou hast removed my soul far off from peace;
I forgat prosperity": Every good, every form of prosperity had been snatched away. Wherever he looked, he found nothing but chaos and privation and suffering. Compare Psa 120:6, 7.

Verse 18:

"And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD": It may have seemed this way to Jeremiah and his contemporaries, but this is a hasty statement -- as we see from vv 21-25. It may happen to any of us that, when troubles pile up, we might say in our haste and despair that all is vanity (Psa 116:11).

Verses 19-21: THE DESIRED EFFECT: TO SAVE A REMNANT. Through bitterness and suffering and adversity, the Israelite learns to turn to God:

"By the rivers of Babylon,
there we sat down,
yea, we wept,
when we remembered Zion

... How shall we sing the Lord's song
in a strange land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget her cunning;
if I do not remember thee,
let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth;
if I prefer not Jerusalem
above my chief joy" (Psa 137:1, 4-6).
The Jews who returned from the 70 years captivity in Babylon were a much more disciplined, righteous band than those who had been originally carried there. The rebellious, the half-hearted, the greedy and the idolaters had been left behind -- often of their own will.

In the same way, when God brings the Jews back to Israel in the period after Christ's return, He will purge out the rebels (Ezek 20:28; Zec 13:9). The Jews' will return to their homeland with a renewed spirit, cleansed at last from their heathen associations, and much the better for their 2000 years spent in division and scattering.

Verse 20:

"My soul hath them still in remembrance,
and is humbled in me": The greatest sorrow in affliction is the remembrance of better times.

Verse 21:

"This I recall in my mind; therefore have I hope": This is the first gleam of real hope. The righteous remnant of Jeremiah's time now realizes fully that these judgments are the hand of God -- that, if they seek to obey Him, He will watch over them, and help them, and their hardships will become only chastenings from their Father. Indeed, if they were not chastened, they would be illegitimate and not sons (Heb 12:8).

Verses 22-30: THE LORD'S MERCIES, SERVICE, SEPARATION: These few verses demonstrate the attitude of life for Jeremiah and the righteous -- in view of God's hand upon them. In the same sense it is prophetic of the life which Christ led, and the lives of all true believers in the ages since; a reliance upon the Lord's mercies, a patient faith and hope and a bearing of God's yoke.

Verse 22:

"The LORD'S mercies": The word "mercies" in the Old Testament is invariably connected with God's promises, or covenants. "Mercy" and "covenant" are used alongside one another in Psa 89:28, and in v 1 of that psalm, the author says:

"I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever:
with my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations..."
The mercies of God he identifies in vv 3, 4 -- and throughout the psalm:

"I have made a covenant with My chosen,
I have sworn unto David My servant,
Thy seed will I establish for ever,
and build up thy throne to all generations."
"It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed": Note the lesson of Rom 9:21, 22 -- that God is the Maker of His vessels and has absolute power over each one, to destroy or to save.

With special reference to the whole Jewish nation, God has preserved them due to His covenant with Abraham (Gen 12:3). He will never make a full end of them (Jer 30:11), for His own Name's sake (Ezek 36:22).

Verse 23:

"They are new every morning": God watches over His servants always. Man must sleep, but God is always awake -- never withdrawing His life-giving and life-sustaining Spirit for the benefit of all flesh. The angel of His presence keeps us (Isa 63:9). Weeping may endure for a night, and that night -- while we lie in darkness -- may seem endless. But in the fresh morning of God's grace there will come renewal and joy (Psa 30:5).

New every morning is the love
Our wakening and uprising prove;
Through sleep and darkness safely brought,
Restored to life, and power, and thought.

New mercies each returning day
Around us hover while we pray;
New perils past, new sins forgiven,
New time to serve our Lord in Heaven.

The daily round, the common task,
Will furnish all we ought to ask --
Room to deny ourselves; a road
To bring us nearer to our God.

So may we in our waking hours
Our Master serve with all our powers;
And while we serve, O may we be
As thou wouldst have us -- more like thee!
Verse 24:

"The LORD is my portion": This is the exact meaning of the name of Jeremiah's father, Hilkiah -- "Yahweh is my inheritance". Again, this bears a direct relation to God's promises, as in Psa 16:5, 10, 11. In conjunction with this is seen the hope of a resurrection to eternal life, first through Christ and then in all those "in Christ". Along the same lines, compare Deut 4:20; 9:29; 32:9; Eph 1:11.

How comforting it is to remember, in the midst of loss or difficulty, that Yahweh is our "portion". Jeremiah stood in the midst of a devastated city and a desolate land. All around him, his fellows had lost their "portions" -- homes, families, communities, possessions of every sort. Those "portions" that are only natural and material are all reduced to the same vanity at the last, and the man who trusts in them has only wasted his time and guaranteed his ultimate disappointment. But the life that has God for a "portion" has the surety of hope and satisfaction at the last, and contentment even now -- at the prospect of that inheritance. We are saved by hope. The process is yet far from complete, but it is our right and privilege to rejoice that our "portion" is in God's hands, and that our hope will surely appear in the appointed time (Col 3:3, 4).

Verse 25:

"The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him": The righteous are pictured by Isaiah as saying, in their time of deliverance, "We have waited for him" (Isa 25:9; 30:18). The same thought is found in 1Th 1:9,10. More is implied in these verses, however, than a simple passing of time now in expectation of receiving the promises at Christ's return. A "watchman" of God was not only to wait, but to observe keenly the signs of the times, and to watch himself and keep his garments unspotted (Isa 21:7-12; Ezek 33:1-9). The Hebrew verb here (in Lam 3:25) is "to wait eagerly", or "to crave".

"To the soul that seeketh Him": "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him: and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon" (Isa 55:6, 7).

Verse 26:

"Hope": "Hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it" (Rom 8:24, 25).

"Quietly wait": With no murmurs or complaints. Job (Job 1:21, 22) and Jesus (Mat 26:63; 27:12; Isa 53:7) were exemplary in such patient waiting.

"The salvation of the LORD": The same as the name of "Joshua" (or "Jesus" in the Greek). A man should wait for Jesus. The patriarch Jacob did this (Gen 49:18).

Verse 27:

"It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth": The "yoke", to be accepted humbly by the faithful (Jer 37:8-12), was the yoke which Christ later offered -- meekness and lowliness in the world's estimation (Mat 11:29).

Also, it is important that we begin to bear this yoke in our youth if possible. Youth is the time for establishing life-long ambitions and habits. It is also the time for high hopes, when we may fail to understand the utter futility of seeking fame and riches. The things learned in our youth will be the most easily remembered when harder times come. For these reasons, Solomon says:

"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them..." (Eccl 12:1).
Jeremiah himself was called to God's service at a time when he considered himself as yet "a child" (Jer 1:6, 7), but he soon learned to "put away childish things" (1Co 13:11).

Such an attitude as this is important in view of the nearness of our Lord's return, as well as the shortness and uncertainty of mortal existence at any time:

"The days of our years are threescore years and ten:
And if by reason of strength they be fourscore years,
yet is their strength labour and sorrow:
for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psa 90:10, 12).
Verse 28:

"He sitteth alone": The way of true holiness has always meant a separation from the paths of the wicked. Jeremiah was to maintain a distinct and separate life. At last, even the appointed time for approaching his countrymen ceased, and God told him, "Return not unto them" (Jer 15:19). We are commanded to be separate from the ways of the world (Deut 22:10; 2Co 6:14, 17; Heb 7:26; Jam 4:4; 1Pe 2:11, 12; 1Jo 2:15-17; 3:1; 4:5; 5:19; Gal 6:14; John 17:6-9).

"Because He hath borne it upon him": Literally, "because He (ie, God) has laid the burden upon him." It would be useless and impractical to remain separate from the world if God had not commanded it and if He had not laid it upon us. From a natural standpoint, the best way to make gains in this life would be by a close association and communion with the world and all its activities. But our aims, and our attitudes, must be different from the world around us.

Verse 29:

"He putteth his mouth in the dust": Figurative subjection and humility (2Ch 33:12; cp Mic 7:17; Psa 72:9). Here is a man so subdued in obedience, that he will bear whatever God may lay upon him without complaint, because he truly has hope.

"If so be there may be hope": "There may yet be hope" (RSV, NIV).

Verse 30:

"He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him": Compare Jesus in Mat 5:39 (principle) and in Mat 26:67 and 1Pe 2:19-24 (practice). Also see Isa 50:6 and Job 16:10.

"He is filled full of reproach": See Psa 69:9, 20.

Verse 31:

"For the LORD will not cast off forever": The gospel of the kingdom is intimately connected with the "hope of Israel", as Paul shows (Acts 28:20). God's deliverance of the natural Jews from their enemies is related to, and concurrent with, the deliverance (to immortality) of His saints. Note carefully Rom 11:1-6, 25-27; 1Sa 12:22; Jer 31:37; and Hos 14:4.

Verse 32:

"The multitude of His mercies": See notes, v 22.

Verse 33:

"For He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men": This "affliction of the sons of men" is tragically necessary, but it gives God no pleasure. Neither does the death of the wicked give Him pleasure (Ezek 18:32; 33:11), for He is not willing that any should perish (2Pe 3:9) -- but it is necessary to vindicate God's holy name. He will be, at last, gracious to those who love Him, but He must of necessity be vengeful upon those who reject Him.

Verse 34:

"To crush under His feet": A reference to the oppressions of the Babylonian and Assyrian conquerors (Eastern monarchs crushing slaves beneath their feet are common sights on wall murals and decorations in capital cities and palaces). But men may "crush" their fellows underfoot in many other ways as well (cp vv 35, 36).

"The prisoners of the earth": "prisoners in the land" (NIV) -- ie, Israel, the Jews were the apple of God's eye. Perhaps also a reference to the prisoners of the pit wherein is no water, the prisoners of sin and death and the grave, debtors to the law and the servants of sin (Zec 9:11, 12).

Verse 35:

"To turn aside the right of a man": Perversion of justice in a court, as was perpetrated upon Jesus.

Verse 36:

"To subvert a man in his cause": Going further, even the private wrongs, devious and secretive acts, gossip and slander. Even of these... (see Psa 15).

"The Lord approveth not": Or, by the margin, "the Lord seeth not", in the sense of Isa 59:15 and Hab 1:13:

"And the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that
there was no judgment."
"Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil,
and canst not look on iniquity."
Such verses as these show the way in which God will not see wicked works. In other words, He will not condescend to behold them forever, but will soon make an end of all such deeds.

Verse 37:

"Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass,
when the Lord commanded it not?":

"My (God's) counsel shall stand,
and I will do all my pleasure" (Isa 46:10).
God is always watching even the sparrows and controlling all events to His satisfaction. There are no such things as "good luck" or "bad luck" for the saints. Everything is in God's hands (cp Psa 33:9).

Verse 38:

"Out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth not evil and good?": God's works are all done in goodness. He controls events to benefit Israel and His elect, although this may not always be clearly discernible. Sometimes we may "receive evil" (in the sense of misfortune) for a time (Job 2:10; Jam 5:10), but not above what we are able to bear.

Also, note that the author of evil in this sense is not some supernatural being with horns and hooves and pitchfork. God says, "I create evil" (Isa 45:7). "Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?" (Amos 3:6).

Verse 39:

"Wherefore doth a living man complain,
a man for the punishment of his sins?":

  1. The nation of Israel, once politically dead (v 6), is alive today because of God's direction of world affairs (Ezek 37:10). All things are for their benefit.
  2. We -- who were once "afar off" among the Gentiles, dead in trespasses and sins -- have been made "alive" (Eph 2:13; Rom 6:13) in Christ (Gal 2:20), and are now God's sons (1Jo 3:1-3), enduring chastening (Heb 12). Can we ever complain in view of what we would have been, if God had not called us to the Truth? There is no real misfortune for the child of faith, and there is no ultimate evil, except unrepented sin! Let us then, as Paul did, glory in tribulation... "knowing that tribulation worketh patience: and patience, experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed" (Rom 5:3-5).
Verse 40:

"Let us search and try our ways,
and turn again to the LORD": see Zec 1:4-6; Hag 1:5; Joel 2:12; Ruth 1:21, 22; Jer 18:11, 12.

It is instructive to observe the progress of the thoughts and feelings of "the man that hath seen affliction". At first he can see only his misfortune. Then, choosing the wisest course, he calls upon God for deliverance. In doing so, and even before deliverance comes, there comes to him first the reawakening of faith. The sufferer is now able to see God's mercies everywhere, even in the sufferings he has felt. The contemplation of God's mercies assures him that his afflictions must be for a purpose, and that they must be temporary. Thus, they must not be complained of. So finally is the suffering servant led to reflection, self-examination, and -- if necessary -- repentance and rededication.

Verse 41:

"Let us lift up our hearts with our hands unto God in the heavens": There must be no hypocrisy in prayer (v 48; Psa 86:4; 1Ti 2:8; and Joel 2:12). The blood of Christ must be sprinkled upon our hearts, and our consciences must be washed and purified. External rites and practices are of no value unless they are accompanied by an internal change (Heb 10:22). God -- and Christ the righteous judge -- can discern our true thoughts and intentions (Heb 4:12, 13).

Verse 42:

"Thou hast not pardoned": Probably because their transgressions and rebellions have not ceased, and because they have been bitter when suffering chastisement. But they will change their attitudes and their ways, and then God will pardon.

Verse 43:

"Thou hast covered...":

Compare the thought in 2:1 and the thought in the following verse.

Verse 44:

"Thou hast covered Thyself with a cloud": The "cloud" is the sins of the people, causing God to hide His face from them (Isa 59:2) -- "I will not hear" (Zec 7:13).

Verse 45:

"Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people": The Jews, a proverb and byword (Deut 28:37); and the saints, of which Paul is an example: "as the filth of the world" (1Co 4:13).

Verse 46:

"All our enemies have opened their mouths against us": See 2:16, 17 and 4:16,17.

Verse 47:

"Fear and a snare": The same combination appears in Jer 48:43 and Isa 24:17. "Panic and pit" (Hillers) suggests the alliteration of the original.

"A snare": The wicked's own snare (1:13; Pro 1:16-18). "Desolation": Devastation, "to lay waste" -- as in Isa 37:26.

Verses 48, 49: Tears of humble, honest appeal: "Rend your hearts" (Joel 2:13). Compare Christ: "Strong crying and tears" (Heb 5:7). See also Jer 9:13 and Psa 119:136.

"Rivers of water": Compare 1:16; 2:18; Jer 9:1; Psa 137:1.

"The daughter of my people": The seed of Abraham. See the words of Christ in Mat 23:37-39.

Verse 49:

"Trickleth down": Better, "poureth down" (cp 2:18).

Verse 50:

"Till the LORD look down, and behold from heaven": That is, until God hears the groaning of the prisoners (cp v 34; Psa 102:20). We should "give him no rest..." (Isa 62:6,7; Luke 18:1-8). Also, see Isa 63:15; 64:1. Though God is high and exalted, yet He can have respect for those who are lowly (Psa 113:4-6).

Verse 51:

"Mine eye affecteth mine heart": "Affect" is translated "abuse" in 1Sa 31:4 and "mock" in Num 22:29. What he saw caused discomfort and grief to his heart.

"All the daughters of my city": 1:4, 18; 2:10, 21.

Verse 52:

"Mine enemies chased me sore, like a bird, without a cause": Compare the symbolism in Pro 1:17 and Psa 11:1. Heedlessly, in sport, out of greed. But God has sent them (Jer 16:16). Compare Jeremiah and Jesus: "They hate me without a cause" (Psa 35:19; 69:4; John 15:25).

Verse 53:

"They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me": As done to:--

  1. Jeremiah himself, because of his unpopular warnings (Jer 37:16), and
  2. Jesus (Mat 27:66).
Verse 54:

"Waters flowed over my head":

  1. For the Jews, dead among the nations, waters symbolize the powers that oppressed them (Isa 8:7; 17:12; Rev 16:12).
  2. Jonah, praying to God from the fish's belly, says, "The floods have compassed me" (Jonah 2:3). In this state, Jonah typifies the Lord Jesus, three days and nights in the grave (Mat 12:40; 16:4).
  3. For Christ and the saints, the "waters" also are "floods of ungodly men" (Psa 18:4).
"I am cut off": I am as good as dead (Psa 88:5; Isa 53:8).

Verse 55:

"I called upon Thy name, O LORD":

"I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and He heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and Thou heardest my voice" (Jonah 2:2).
In the same way, Christ knew his Father would not forsake him in the grave:

"For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psa 16:10).
Verse 56:

"Thou hast heard my voice: hide not Thine ear at my breathing, at my cry": An implication throughout of a resurrection to life eternal, the only true hope.

Verses 57-60: This section is typical of the latter days when Gentile enemies enter Israel. Then will Yahweh fight for His city Jerusalem (Zec 14:3). Israel will then mourn for Christ -- whom they have slain (Zec 12:10).

"Fear not": See Isa 41:10, 14; 43:1, 2. Also see Rev 1:17 and Dan 10:12. This beautiful counsel is recalled in the words of Jesus (Mark 5:36) and Paul:

"God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2Ti 1:7).
So much of our lives can be taken up with fears if we allow it... fears for our families, for our livelihoods, fears of violence, fears of disease, fears of death -- sometimes, perhaps, nameless fears that paralyse action and stifle prayer. How often we need the reminder of these simple words: "Fear not". God is for us -- so who can be against us?

"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).

Verse 59:

"Judge (or 'uphold' -- NIV) Thou my cause": God is a righteous and a fair judge, but we know also that He has promised to forgive us our sins and clothe us with His righteousness -- if we have truly tried to serve Him with our hearts.

Verse 60:

"Thou hast seen all their vengeance
and all their imaginations against me": Compare the Assyrian (Isa 10:7), Joseph's brethren (Gen 50:21), Jesus's enemies (Acts 2:23), and Russia (Ezek 38:11, 12).

Verse 63:

"Behold their sitting down, and their rising up": Hatred of God's people, manifested in all their activities -- which is the idiomatic sense of this phrase (Psa 139:2; Isa 37:28; Deut 6:7).

"I am their music": I am the subject of their derisive, mocking songs (v 14; Job 30:9; Psa 69:12).

Verses 64-66: These verses do not indicate a vengeful, grudging attitude as proper in God's servants. Rather, they merely illustrate an understanding and respect for God's purpose as set forth in His word. Judgments are necessary upon the heathen; this is the only way they will be converted (Isa 26:9). "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord" (Rom 12:19; Deut 32:35).

These verses therefore are simply another expression of the sentiments which Christ taught us to pray: "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth..." (Mat 6:10).

Verse 64:

This verse is taken from Psa 28:4, and is repeated by Paul against Alexander the coppersmith in 2Ti 4:14.

Verse 65:

"Give them sorrow of heart": Literally, "give them a covering", or a "vail" -- which can signify blindness (as Isa 6:10; 2Co 3:15), "strong delusion" (2Th 2:11; Rom 1:28), or drunkenness in battle against the Lord's hosts (Ezek 38:21).

Verse 66:

"Persecute and destroy them in anger from under the heavens of the LORD": God's dominion is the whole earth, ie, all the land under the whole heaven (Dan 7:27).

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