Lamentations 1:1–22 (NKJV)
The book of Lamentations describes the horrible condition of the city of Jerusalem after its conquest at the hands of Babylon. The mourning and lament are palpable.
1:1 How lonely sits the city
That was full of people!
How like a widow is she,
Who was great among the nations!
The princess among the provinces
Has become a slave!
2 She weeps bitterly in the night,
Her tears are on her cheeks;
Among all her lovers
She has none to comfort her.
All her friends have dealt treacherously with her;
They have become her enemies.
The city is described as empty, lonely, degraded, and without comfort.
3 Judah has gone into captivity,
Under affliction and hard servitude;
She dwells among the nations,
She finds no rest;
All her persecutors overtake her in dire straits.
4 The roads to Zion mourn
Because no one comes to the set feasts.
All her gates are desolate;
Her priests sigh,
Her virgins are afflicted,
And she is in bitterness.
5 Her adversaries have become the master,
Her enemies prosper;
For the Lord has afflicted her
Because of the multitude of her transgressions.
Her children have gone into captivity before the enemy.
6 And from the daughter of Zion
All her splendor has departed.
Her princes have become like deer
That find no pasture,
That flee without strength
Before the pursuer.
The festivals are over. The young people that once brought hope for future glory are scattered or dead. Judah and Jerusalem seemed doomed. The punishment for her sins is overwhelming.
7 In the days of her affliction and roaming,
Jerusalem remembers all her pleasant things
That she had in the days of old.
When her people fell into the hand of the enemy,
With no one to help her,
The adversaries saw her
And mocked at her downfall.
8 Jerusalem has sinned gravely,
Therefore she has become vile.
All who honored her despise her
Because they have seen her nakedness;
Yes, she sighs and turns away.
9 Her uncleanness is in her skirts;
She did not consider her destiny;
Therefore her collapse was awesome;
She had no comforter.
“O Lord, behold my affliction,
For the enemy is exalted!”
10 The adversary has spread his hand
Over all her pleasant things;
For she has seen the nations enter her sanctuary,
Those whom You commanded
Not to enter Your assembly.
The shame of Judah is obvious. The nations mock her, deride her. They have walked right in to her holy places, and they have seen her exposed by the punishment. She has no honor any longer.
11 All her people sigh,
They seek bread;
They have given their valuables for food to restore life.
“See, O Lord, and consider,
For I am scorned.”
12 “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Behold and see
If there is any sorrow like my sorrow,
Which has been brought on me,
Which the Lord has inflicted
In the day of His fierce anger.
13 “From above He has sent fire into my bones,
And it overpowered them;
He has spread a net for my feet
And turned me back;
He has made me desolate
And faint all the day.
14 “The yoke of my transgressions was bound;
They were woven together by His hands,
And thrust upon my neck.
He made my strength fail;
The Lord delivered me into the hands of those whom I am not able to withstand.
15 “The Lord has trampled underfoot all my mighty men in my midst;
He has called an assembly against me
To crush my young men;
The Lord trampled as in a winepress
The virgin daughter of Judah.
Poverty, sorrow, weakness, bondage and defeat have come upon Judah. The once lofty city of Jerusalem is destroyed.
16 “For these things I weep;
My eye, my eye overflows with water;
Because the comforter, who should restore my life,
Is far from me.
My children are desolate
Because the enemy prevailed.”
17 Zion spreads out her hands,
But no one comforts her;
The Lord has commanded concerning Jacob
That those around him become his adversaries;
Jerusalem has become an unclean thing among them.
In this statement, Jerusalem accepts the guilt for her condition. She sees that the responsibility for her fall is her own. There is no one else at which to point the finger.
18 “The Lord is righteous,
For I rebelled against His commandment.
Hear now, all peoples,
And behold my sorrow;
My virgins and my young men
Have gone into captivity.
19 “I called for my lovers,
But they deceived me;
My priests and my elders
Breathed their last in the city,
While they sought food
To restore their life.
20 “See, O Lord, that I am in distress;
My soul is troubled;
My heart is overturned within me,
For I have been very rebellious.
Outside the sword bereaves,
At home it is like death.
21 “They have heard that I sigh,
But no one comforts me.
All my enemies have heard of my trouble;
They are glad that You have done it.
Bring on the day You have announced,
That they may become like me.
22 “Let all their wickedness come before You,
And do to them as You have done to me
For all my transgressions;
For my sighs are many,
And my heart is faint.”
Jerusalem feels she has no one to whom she can turn. Her loves rejected her. Her priests are dead. Her enemies mock her. She is alone in her grief and sorrow. When tragedy strikes, one of a few responses is possible. One can allow the grief to overwhelm them and fall under the weight of it, or one can turn to God, believing in spite of the facts before them. I choose to believe. However, the lonely widow–feeling the weight of defeat–may struggle to overcome. Reach out and help, for one day you may need that same hand.