This is Episode #240 and today we’ll read Lamentations 1-2 together. The Babylon exile and the burning of their beloved Jerusalem was the most devastating event to happen to the Israelites.
Joy: You’re listening to Season 2 of the Lifting Her Voice podcast. This is Episode #240 and today we’ll read Lamentations 1-2 together. The Babylon exile and the burning of their beloved Jerusalem was the most devastating event to happen to the Israelites.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Season 2! I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me – from the beginning – simply reading God’s word together. We built some spiritual muscles in 2020 with just the New Testament. But this year we’re going all out, cover-to-cover, Old Testament and New. So, whether with your first cup in the morning, your commute to work, or as the last thing on your mind before sleep, God’s Word will equip you for every good work. I’m really glad you’re here!
Introduction to Lamentations
Let me introduce you to the book of Lamentations. You don’t have to go past the title to know what this book is all about. We read how the Israelites lamented while wandering thru the desert. We listened as they cried out to have a king like all the other nations. But we don’t want to confuse whining with lamenting. These are heart-felt, gut-wrenching, walls-falling-down cries out to God. I think you’ll be reminded of Job in this book. The gloves are off, they’re past being polite, and they’re laying everything out on the table before Him.
As human beings, we must grieve. It’s a process and we’ve all heard the steps. If we don’t grieve, we will either act out or go crazy. Ironically, when we stop acting out, the grieving process is still waiting for us. I learned about grieving in the ‘80s when my first baby suffered a circulatory collapse at four days old. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn about grieving before I did the acting out. And sure enough, there were the seven stages of grief, waiting patiently for me when I was done. I have learned since that God’s shoulders are plenty broad to take anything I can dish out in my anguish. And to avoid the sin that inherently goes along with acting out, dish it out to Him I will.
An Expression of Grief
Lamenting is an expression of grief. And frankly, I don’t think we – as a society – are very good at lamenting. We’ve been raised that we’re supposed to suck it up, put our big-girl panties on, deal with it.
So, as we read Lamentations, I encourage you to revisit in your mind a really horrible time you went through. Perhaps you didn’t lament the way God is teaching us to do here. I hope we all commit to involving Him deeply in our next storm. And as we know, there will always be another storm.
Lamentations Chapter 1
Lament over Jerusalem
How she sits alone,
the city once crowded with people!
She who was great among the nations
has become like a widow.
The princess among the provinces
has been put to forced labor.
She weeps bitterly during the night,
with tears on her cheeks.
There is no one to offer her comfort,
not one from all her lovers.
All her friends have betrayed her;
they have become her enemies.
Judah has gone into exile
following affliction and harsh slavery;
she lives among the nations
but finds no place to rest.
All her pursuers have overtaken her
in narrow places.
The roads to Zion mourn,
for no one comes to the appointed festivals.
All her gates are deserted;
her priests groan,
her young women grieve,
and she herself is bitter.
Her adversaries have become her masters;
her enemies are at ease,
for the Lord has made her suffer
because of her many transgressions.
Her children have gone away
as captives before the adversary.
All the splendor has vanished
from Daughter Zion.
Her leaders are like stags
that find no pasture;
they stumble away exhausted
before the hunter.
During the days of her affliction and homelessness
Jerusalem remembers all her precious belongings
that were hers in days of old.
When her people fell into the adversary’s hand,
she had no one to help.
The adversaries looked at her,
laughing over her downfall.
Jerusalem has sinned grievously;
therefore, she has become an object of scorn.
All who honored her now despise her,
for they have seen her nakedness.
She herself groans and turns away.
Her uncleanness stains her skirts.
She never considered her end.
Her downfall was astonishing;
there was no one to comfort her.
Lord, look on my affliction,
for the enemy boasts.
The adversary has seized
all her precious belongings.
She has even seen the nations
enter her sanctuary —
those you had forbidden
to enter your assembly.
All her people groan
while they search for bread.
They have traded their precious belongings for food
in order to stay alive.
Lord, look and see
how I have become despised.
Is this nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look and see!
Is there any pain like mine,
which was dealt out to me,
which the Lord made me suffer
on the day of his burning anger?
He sent fire from on high into my bones;
he made it descend.
He spread a net for my feet
and turned me back.
He made me desolate,
sick all day long.
My transgressions have been formed into a yoke,
fastened together by his hand;
they have been placed on my neck,
and the Lord has broken my strength.
He has handed me over
to those I cannot withstand.
The Lord has rejected
all the mighty men within me.
He has summoned an army against me
to crush my young warriors.
The Lord has trampled Virgin Daughter Judah
like grapes in a winepress.
I weep because of these things;
my eyes flow with tears.
For there is no one nearby to comfort me,
no one to keep me alive.
My children are desolate
because the enemy has prevailed.
Zion stretches out her hands;
there is no one to comfort her.
The Lord has issued a decree against Jacob
that his neighbors should be his adversaries.
Jerusalem has become
something impure among them.
The Lord is just,
for I have rebelled against his command.
Listen, all you people;
look at my pain.
My young women and young men
have gone into captivity.
I called to my lovers,
but they betrayed me.
My priests and elders
perished in the city
while searching for food
to keep themselves alive.
Lord, see how I am in distress.
I am churning within;
my heart is broken,
for I have been very rebellious.
Outside, the sword takes the children;
inside, there is death.
People have heard me groaning,
but there is no one to comfort me.
All my enemies have heard of my misfortune;
they are glad that you have caused it.
Bring on the day you have announced,
so that they may become like me.
Let all their wickedness come before you,
and deal with them
as you have dealt with me
because of all my transgressions.
For my groans are many,
and I am sick at heart.
Lamentations Chapter 2
Judgment on Jerusalem
How the Lord has overshadowed
Daughter Zion with his anger!
He has thrown down Israel’s glory
from heaven to earth.
He did not acknowledge his footstool
in the day of his anger.
Without compassion the Lord has swallowed up
all the dwellings of Jacob.
In his wrath he has demolished
the fortified cities of Daughter Judah.
He brought them to the ground
and defiled the kingdom and its leaders.
He has cut off every horn of Israel
in his burning anger
and withdrawn his right hand
in the presence of the enemy.
He has blazed against Jacob like a flaming fire
that consumes everything.
He has strung his bow like an enemy;
his right hand is positioned like an adversary.
He has killed everyone who was the delight to the eye,
pouring out his wrath like fire
on the tent of Daughter Zion.
The Lord is like an enemy;
he has swallowed up Israel.
He swallowed up all its palaces
and destroyed its fortified cities.
He has multiplied mourning and lamentation
within Daughter Judah.
He has wrecked his temple
as if it were merely a shack in a field,
destroying his place of meeting.
The Lord has abolished
appointed festivals and Sabbaths in Zion.
He has despised king and priest
in his fierce anger.
The Lord has rejected his altar,
repudiated his sanctuary;
he has handed the walls of her palaces
over to the enemy.
They have raised a shout in the house of the Lord
as on the day of an appointed festival.
The Lord determined to destroy
the wall of Daughter Zion.
He stretched out a measuring line
and did not restrain himself from destroying.
He made the ramparts and walls grieve;
together they waste away.
Zion’s gates have fallen to the ground;
he has destroyed and shattered the bars on her gates.
Her king and her leaders live among the nations,
instruction is no more,
and even her prophets receive
no vision from the Lord.
The elders of Daughter Zion
sit on the ground in silence.
They have thrown dust on their heads
and put on sackcloth.
The young women of Jerusalem
have bowed their heads to the ground.
My eyes are worn out from weeping;
I am churning within.
My heart is poured out in grief
because of the destruction of my dear people,
because infants and nursing babies faint
in the streets of the city.
They cry out to their mothers,
“Where is the grain and wine?”
as they faint like the wounded
in the streets of the city,
as their life pours out
in the arms of their mothers.
What can I say on your behalf?
What can I compare you to, Daughter Jerusalem?
What can I liken you to,
so that I may console you, Virgin Daughter Zion?
For your ruin is as vast as the sea.
Who can heal you?
Your prophets saw visions for you
that were empty and deceptive;
they did not reveal your iniquity
and so restore your fortunes.
They saw pronouncements for you
that were empty and misleading.
All who pass by
scornfully clap their hands at you.
They hiss and shake their heads
at Daughter Jerusalem:
Is this the city that was called
the perfection of beauty,
the joy of the whole earth?
All your enemies
open their mouths against you.
They hiss and gnash their teeth,
saying, “We have swallowed her up.
This is the day we have waited for!
We have lived to see it.”
The Lord has done what he planned;
he has accomplished his decree,
which he ordained in days of old.
He has demolished without compassion,
letting the enemy gloat over you
and exalting the horn of your adversaries.
The hearts of the people cry out to the Lord.
Wall of Daughter Zion,
let your tears run down like a river
day and night.
Give yourself no relief
and your eyes no rest.
Arise, cry out in the night
from the first watch of the night.
Pour out your heart like water
before the Lord’s presence.
Lift up your hands to him
for the lives of your children
who are fainting from hunger
at the head of every street.
Lord, look and consider
to whom you have done this.
Should women eat their own children,
the infants they have nurtured?
Should priests and prophets
be killed in the Lord’s sanctuary?
Both young and old
are lying on the ground in the streets.
My young women and young men
have fallen by the sword.
You have killed them in the day of your anger,
slaughtering without compassion.
You summon those who terrorize me on every side,
as if for an appointed festival day;
on the day of the Lord’s anger
no one escaped or survived.
My enemy has destroyed
those I nurtured and reared.
We see some familiar imagery in Chapter 2, don’t we? I can certainly see Job in this chapter, and we can learn a lot from Job about lamenting. There was lots of tension; lots of going back and forth. And that’s really how our grieving goes, isn’t it? On the one hand, it would be really nice if God would forget His promises of cursing. On the other hand, we know deep down that we deserve it all. Not only that, but if God forgot His promise of cursing, what other promises could we not depend on? That’s why He is a just and trustworthy God. He is not fickle. When He promises something, it will come to pass.
I forgot to remind you to go to The Bible Project and watch the overview video for the book of Lamentations. It is so good! It will definitely help you navigate some of the imagery of these writings. It also explains the acrostic structure and even explains the unresolved paradox at the end. Finally, it is no longer assumed that Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations. Who knew? Modern scholars are suggesting it was written by five different poets among others. The scholars at The Bible Project simply say it is anonymous.
See You Tomorrow!
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray that by spending time in His Word every day, you will be changed. Visit me at Lifting Her Voice.com with your comments and questions. And don’t forget to visit the Blog page while you’re there. If you like the podcast, it would be great if you’d give it a five-star review and share it with everyone you know. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you tomorrow!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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