Lamentations 3
See the Lamentations home page for a description of this long chapter
Penitence in affliction
 1 ¶ I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.
 2  He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light.
 3  Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day.
  1 - I am the man Probably Jeremiah describing the troubles of Judah and Jerusalem as seen in his own afflictions.
 4  My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones.
 5  He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail.
 6  He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old.
.7  He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy.
 8  Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.
 9  He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked.
  Hedged me about This described depression, but can be real or built on a real situation. Does God shut out our prayer? Not when we are being faithful, even though we may not feel that he hears. See ps06618, je1114.
  Shutteth out my prayer They have not been delivered. The poem progresses. In general we have assurance that our prayers are heard ps06502, jl0232.
 10  He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places.
 11  He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate.
.12  He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow.
 13  He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins.
 14  I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day.
 15  He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood.
  Arrows ... into my reins Literally "... into my kidneys." These organs were once thought to be the center of the emotions la0211.
.16  He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes.
 17  And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity.
 18  And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:
 19  Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.
 20  My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.
 21 ¶ This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.
.22  It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
 23  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
.24  The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
  We may have victory over sin.
 25  The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
 26  It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.
 27  It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
  Yoke in his youth Submission. See je2708,11,12.
 28  He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him.
 29  He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope.
 30  He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach.
 31  For the Lord will not cast off for ever:
.32  But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
 33  For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.
  Not afflict willingly God allows troubles to refine us 2pe0309. This is a precious verse to remember in time of trial. Notice that He does not like to grieve us either. In the loss of a loved one, we may come close to the one who loved us more than we can imagine je3103.
.34  To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth,
 35  To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High,
 36  To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not.
  His This would be the Lord, v31.
  Prisoners of the earth The dead sleeping in their graves jb0318. He will resurrect them jn0528f.
  Turn aside the right The Lord recognizes human rights and He will render justice for the abuses. The last part of the verse clarifies that He sees. From the context, we see v35 as the beginning of a sentence that ends with the next verse.
  Consider another right, one particularly "before the face of the Most High": To stand between a man and his God pretending to cut off the man's right to eternal life is evil jn0922. Jesus is our only mediator 1ti0205. We will judge but "with Christ." See on re0321. Compare re2004.
  Subvert ... in his cause This verse may be seen to amplify the previous one. We would not work to see a righteous man condemned. See mt2659, mr1401.
 37 ¶ Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?
 37 ¶ Who has commanded and it came to pass, unless the Lord has ordained it? (RSV)
 38  Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?
.39  Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?
  Who ... saith? We cannot say what is coming in the future beyond what the Lord has revealed. For Jeremiah who writes here, false prophets had predicted peace for Jerusalem when the Lord had sent him to warn the people because the city would fall. For example je1415.
   Evil and good God is not evil but He orders both evil and good to develop the characters of His children v32.
It is easier for us to believe the good things. The history of the Jewish people is an example. They claimed the promises about the Messiah being a king zc0909, mt2105, but overlooked or reinterpreted those which foretold His taking the punishment and death they deserved, as do we is5305, 1pe0224. For both, see is63.
  Living man complain Life itself is a gift ec0904. More important is the blessing of suffering because of our own sin such as subjecting the body God has given us to lifestyle abuse. These trials point us to the repentance we need so that we will not die the eternal death of the wicked ob16.
 40  Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.
 41  Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.
.42 ¶ We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned.
  Search ... turn again This follows from v39. Also ps13923.
  Lift ... heart with our hands Lifting up hands implies prayer 1ti0208. We are to lift our hearts, too, in repentance mr0706. Heart and hands represent our motives and our behavior. Both are to be sanctified.
  Pardoned From salach meaning divine forgiveness. We are pardoned when we repent sincerely as described in the previous verse. We are not pardoned in the sense of being allowed to escape the punishment earned je3603, am0702, 2ki2404.
 43  Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied.
 44  Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.
 45  Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people.
 46  All our enemies have opened their mouths against us.
 47  Fear and a snare is come upon us, desolation and destruction.
.48  Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people.
  48 - Mine eye Switched back to first person singular. The prophet weaps. Compare is2204.
 49  Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not, without any intermission,
 50  Till the LORD look down, and behold from heaven.
 51  Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city.
 52  Mine enemies chased me sore, like a bird, without cause.
 53  They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me.
.54  Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off.
  53 - Dungeon If the writer is Jeremiah and he speaks of himself, this is more than he told us in his book je3801-13. Or he may have amplified his story to express the problems of his city. 
 55 ¶ I called upon thy name, O LORD, out of the low dungeon.
 56  Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry.
 57  Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not.
 58  O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life.
 59  O LORD, thou hast seen my wrong: judge thou my cause.
 60  Thou hast seen all their vengeance and all their imaginations against me.
  Pleaded the causes This is what our Lord does for us 1jn0201. Remember that He was the I AM of the Exodus.
 61  Thou hast heard their reproach, O LORD, and all their imaginations against me;
 62  The lips of those that rose up against me, and their device against me all the day.
 63  Behold their sitting down, and their rising up; I am their musick.
  Lips ... their musick ps01503.
.64  Render unto them a recompence, O LORD, according to the work of their hands.
 65  Give them sorrow of heart, thy curse unto them.
 66  Persecute and destroy them in anger from under the heavens of the LORD.
  Was this a selfish prayer? Not necessarily. We must practice a forgiving spirit but justice demands punishment. We can leave that in the hands of the Lord. 
Previous chapter
Lamentations home
Commentary home