Turn us Back, O Lord

Lamentations 5:1–22 (NKJV)

5:1 Remember, O Lord, what has come upon us;Look, and behold our reproach! 2 Our inheritance has been turned over to aliens, And our houses to foreigners. 3 We have become orphans and waifs,Our mothers are like widows. 4 We pay for the water we drink, And our wood comes at a price. 5 They pursue at our heels;We labor and have no rest. 6 We have given our hand to the Egyptians And the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread. 7 Our fathers sinned and are no more, But we bear their iniquities.

The wailing and mourning of the Israelites is evident here. They have lost everything, their pride is crushed, their status is obliterated. Their leaders are to blame and they are slaves to other nations over which they felt a certain dominance.

8 Servants rule over us; There is none to deliver us from their hand. 9 We get our bread at the risk of our lives, Because of the sword in the wilderness. 10 Our skin is hot as an oven,Because of the fever of famine. 11 They ravished the women in Zion,The maidens in the cities of Judah. 12 Princes were hung up by their hands,And elders were not respected. 13 Young men ground at the millstones;Boys staggered under loads of wood. 14 The elders have ceased gathering at the gate,And the young men from their music. 15 The joy of our heart has ceased;Our dance has turned into mourning. 16 The crown has fallen from our head.Woe to us, for we have sinned!

Dancing has ceased, mourning has ensued. Servants rule over the dignitaries. Fever, famine, raped, murder, and slavery are the norm. The crown has fallen from their heads. They are no longer royalty, but subjects.

17 Because of this our heart is faint;Because of these things our eyes grow dim; 18 Because of Mount Zion which is desolate,With foxes walking about on it. 19 You, O Lord, remain forever;Your throne from generation to generation. 20 Why do You forget us forever,And forsake us for so long a time? 21 Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored;Renew our days as of old, 22 Unless You have utterly rejected us,And are very angry with us!

The Jews faint under the weight of their captivity. Their life is forever changed, altered, detoured. They muster a mild recognition of the glory of God, but then basically ask Him where He has been! They sum up the chapter with a plea for His intervention. They ask it the right way, though: “Turn us back to You, O Lord…”. From what might you need the Lord to turn you. Is there something (sinful lifestyle, tragedy, oppression) from which you would like to turn today? Seek the face of God. Worship Him, and allow Him the opportunity to turn you back to Him. In Him there is safety and restoration.

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