Lamentations 2:1–22 (NKJV)
2:1 How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion
With a cloud in His anger!
He cast down from heaven to the earth
The beauty of Israel,
And did not remember His footstool
In the day of His anger.
2 The Lord has swallowed up and has not pitied
All the dwelling places of Jacob.
He has thrown down in His wrath
The strongholds of the daughter of Judah;
He has brought them down to the ground;
He has profaned the kingdom and its princes.
3 He has cut off in fierce anger
Every horn of Israel;
He has drawn back His right hand
From before the enemy.
He has blazed against Jacob like a flaming fire
Devouring all around.
This opening passage reveals the things that God has allowed to be compromised in Judah due to their sin. Their beauty, or splendor, is gone. The buildings, the temple, the government, etc., have been cast down. The strongholds are gone, Judah is vulnerable and susceptible to attack. It’s fortresses no longer hold back the enemy. Finally, their horn is cut off, signifying a loss of strength or pride (honor). Judah is shamed and defeated.
4 Standing like an enemy, He has bent His bow;
With His right hand, like an adversary,
He has slain all who were pleasing to His eye;
On the tent of the daughter of Zion,
He has poured out His fury like fire.
5 The Lord was like an enemy.
He has swallowed up Israel,
He has swallowed up all her palaces;
He has destroyed her strongholds,
And has increased mourning and lamentation
In the daughter of Judah.
6 He has done violence to His tabernacle,
As if it were a garden;
He has destroyed His place of assembly;
The Lord has caused
The appointed feasts and Sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion.
In His burning indignation He has spurned the king and the priest.
7 The Lord has spurned His altar,
He has abandoned His sanctuary;
He has given up the walls of her palaces
Into the hand of the enemy.
They have made a noise in the house of the Lord
As on the day of a set feast.
8 The Lord has purposed to destroy
The wall of the daughter of Zion.
He has stretched out a line;
He has not withdrawn His hand from destroying;
Therefore He has caused the rampart and wall to lament;
They languished together.
9 Her gates have sunk into the ground;
He has destroyed and broken her bars.
Her king and her princes are among the nations;
The Law is no more,
And her prophets find no vision from the Lord.
Jeremiah describes further here the condition of Jerusalem after the judgment of God. The Lord has become the adversary, the enemy of His people. He has destroyed people, palaces, fortresses, the tabernacle, the altar, the walls and the gates of the city. He has cut down the beauty of the city, the strength of man, and has rejected their places of worship because of their sin. He has removed their defenses and made them weak.
10 The elders of the daughter of Zion
Sit on the ground and keep silence;
They throw dust on their heads
And gird themselves with sackcloth.
The virgins of Jerusalem
Bow their heads to the ground.
11 My eyes fail with tears,
My heart is troubled;
My bile is poured on the ground
Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,
Because the children and the infants
Faint in the streets of the city.
12 They say to their mothers,
“Where is grain and wine?”
As they swoon like the wounded
In the streets of the city,
As their life is poured out
In their mothers’ bosom.
13 How shall I console you?
To what shall I liken you,
O daughter of Jerusalem?
What shall I compare with you, that I may comfort you,
O virgin daughter of Zion?
For your ruin is spread wide as the sea;
Who can heal you?
14 Your prophets have seen for you
False and deceptive visions;
They have not uncovered your iniquity,
To bring back your captives,
But have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions.
15 All who pass by clap their hands at you;
They hiss and shake their heads
At the daughter of Jerusalem:
“Is this the city that is called
‘The perfection of beauty,
The joy of the whole earth’?”
16 All your enemies have opened their mouth against you;
They hiss and gnash their teeth.
They say, “We have swallowed her up!
Surely this is the day we have waited for;
We have found it, we have seen it!”
17 The Lord has done what He purposed;
He has fulfilled His word
Which He commanded in days of old.
He has thrown down and has not pitied,
And He has caused an enemy to rejoice over you;
He has exalted the horn of your adversaries.
18 Their heart cried out to the Lord,
“O wall of the daughter of Zion,
Let tears run down like a river day and night;
Give yourself no relief;
Give your eyes no rest.
19 “Arise, cry out in the night,
At the beginning of the watches;
Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord.
Lift your hands toward Him
For the life of your young children,
Who faint from hunger at the head of every street.”
20 “See, O Lord, and consider!
To whom have You done this?
Should the women eat their offspring,
The children they have cuddled?
Should the priest and prophet be slain
In the sanctuary of the Lord?
21 “Young and old lie
On the ground in the streets;
My virgins and my young men
Have fallen by the sword;
You have slain them in the day of Your anger,
You have slaughtered and not pitied.
22 “You have invited as to a feast day
The terrors that surround me.
In the day of the Lord’s anger
There was no refugee or survivor.
Those whom I have borne and brought up
My enemies have destroyed.”
The city is bound up in mourning, tears, and fainting. Children are starving. Prophets have lied. Onlookers deride Jerusalem. Conquerors boast of Jerusalem’s demise. Old and young lie dead in the streets. When judgment comes, it is ugly, messy, deadly. Jerusalem, once glorious and revered city, is now in ruins and its people are devastated. Be sure that when a life or a family is walking contrary to the will of God, judgment comes. Mercy will follow if repentance occurs, but judgment will be messy. Here the warnings. Heed the call to repentance before judgment hits. Be saved from your sins before you walk over a metaphorical cliff into the disfavor of God. Judgment stings.