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Old Testament Survey

Lamentations




Key Verses

2:5, 6
3:21-24


Key Chapters

Chapter 3


Key Concepts

“A River of Tears”
Mourning


Thoughts for Reading

Does God cry over your actions?


Lament. 2:5-6
The Lord was as an enemy: he hath swallowed up Israel, he hath swallowed up all her palaces: he hath destroyed his strong holds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation. 6And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the Lord hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest.

Title

The meaning of the Hebrew title to this book is a word meaning "How," "Alas," or “Oh.” This term is the first word in the Hebrew text for n 1:1, 2:1 and 4:1. The Hebrew term was commonly used for funeral dirges in the Old Testament (2 Sam 1:19; Isa 42:12). The Greek title bears a meaning of “lament.” The Latin Vulgate originally transliterated this term for the same title, then expanded it into on meaning “The Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet.” Obviously, the English title is a shortened version of the Latin.

“Lamentation” means a dirge. The book is five funeral dirges over the fate of Jerusalem and her people.

Jeremiah looks toward the fall of Judah.

Lamentations looks back upon the fall of Judah.

Lamentations seems to be a postscript for Jeremiah’s book. Authorship is given to the prophet by tradition. It is an emotional expression of grief over the fall of Jerusalem (587/586 B.C.). This would probably relate to Jeremiah 39:1-18, 2 Kings 24 and 25 and 2 Chronicles 36. The grief is not only over the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, but also sorrow comes because of the cause of the fall. This, of course, is the on-going sin of Judah in following her own ways and disobeying God. The book also provides a ray of hope for the survivors of Jerusalem. As Paul writes on the purpose of Scripture (3 Tim 3:16, 17), Lamentations offers reproof and instruction to Israel. God has chastised the nation for its sins. The correct response to such chastisement is to repent and turn back to God.

While Deuteronomy is not completely the beginning of the history of Israel, it is the final instructions to the nation before it enters the promised land. Likewise, Jeremiah is not the end of Old Testament history for the nation, but the events following the during and following the exile do not approach the glory of the nation at any time prior to the exile. So, in this sense, the two books represent the beginning and end of the earthly glory of Israel. As such, parallels between the two books are worth noting.

A Comparison of Lamentations and Deuteronomy
LAMENTATIONS DEUTERONOMY
Lament. 1:3
Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.
Deut. 28:65
And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:
Lament. 1:5
Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.
Deut. 28:44
He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.
Deut. 28:32
Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand.
Lament. 1:6
And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed: her princes are become like harts that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the pursuer.
Deut. 28:25
The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.
Lament. 1:18
The Lord is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandment: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow: my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity.
Deut. 28:41
Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.
Lament. 2:15
All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth?
Deut. 28:37
And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee.
Lament. 2:20
Behold, O Lord, and consider to whom thou hast done this. Shall the women eat their fruit, and children of a span long? shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord?
Deut. 28:53
And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:
Lament. 2:21
The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword; thou hast slain them in the day of thine anger; thou hast killed, and not pitied.
Deut. 28:50 A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:
Lament. 4:10
The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people.
Deut. 28:56
The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,
Lament. 5:2
Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens.
Lament. 5:11
They ravished the women in Zion, and the maids in the cities of Judah.
Deut. 28:30
Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof.
Lament. 5:5
Our necks are under persecution: we labour, and have no rest.
Deut. 28:65
And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:
Lament. 5:10
Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.
Deut. 28:24
The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.
Lament. 5:12
Princes are hanged up by their hand: the faces of elders were not honoured.
Deut. 28:50
A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:
Lament. 5:18
Because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it.
Deut. 28:26
And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.

A simple outline of the book is:

Jesus in Lamentations

Jesus is found in two forms in this book. First, He is the Man of Sorrow who has faced the grief of affliction and scorn by His enemies (1:12; 3:19). Secondly, just as Jeremiah weeps over Jerusalem, so too, Christ weeps over the City (Matt 23:37, 38).

In the midst of the grief and anger, Jeremiah sees hope and promise, just as Christ does.

Lament. 3:22-24
22It is of the Lord&s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. 24The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

A Form of Poetry

Chapters 1, 2, 4, & 5 each have 22 verses – one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In fact, each line of chapters 1, 2, & 4 start with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet – in order (a, b, c, ...). This is called an “acrostic pattern.”

Chapter 3 has 66 verses, running the alphabet in triplets in the Hebrew. The first three verses start with the Hebrew “a,” the next three with the Hebrew “b,” and so on.

While chapter 5 has 22 verses, it does not follow the alphabetic pattern.

Is the Lord your portion?

Do you place all of your hope in Him?

 

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