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THE LAMENTATIONS OF
THE Lamentations of Jeremiah were composed soon after the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of Judah. They are divided into five distinct chapters, which are so many beautiful elegies, bewailing those sad events.
In which Jerusalem's misery for her sins is related, with her complaint, and confession of God's righteousness.
OW doth the city sit solitary, [that was] full of people! [how] is she become as a widow! she [that was] great among the nations, [and] princess among the provinces, [how] 2 is she become tributary! She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears [are] on her cheeks, like a sincere mourner when alone: among all her lovers, or allies, she hath none to comfort [her :] all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are be3 come her enemies. Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude; because they had afflicted and oppressed their brethren: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her 4 between the straits, or, in the narrow passages. The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts; the ways that lead to Zion, which used to be crouded on those occasions all her gates are desolate her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she [is] in bitterness; all her mirth and gaiety 5 are gone. Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the ene6 my. And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed her princes are become like harts [that] find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the pursuer; not like a hunted deer, wearied out in the chase; but like one ready to die with hunger before the chase began, which therefore only makes
a feeble, short effort, and then drops down: a most expressive 7 simile. Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old, God's presence, his temple, his ordinances, and prophets, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and none did help her the adversaries saw her, [and] did mock at her sabbaths; or, laughed at her discontinuing them, as if she had only 8 kept them out of sloth. Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth 9 backward. Her filthiness [is] in her skirts, it is visible on her garments; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully; all is the effect of her sin: she had no comforter. O LORD, behold my affliction for the enemy 10 hath magnified [himself] The adversary hath spread out his hand upon all her pleasant things, upon her rich furniture, jew els, and plate for she hath seen [that] the heathen entered into her sanctuary, whom thou didst command [that] they should 11 not enter into thy congregation. All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul see, O LORD, and consider; for I am become
behold and see if
[Is it] nothing to you, all ye that pass by? there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted [me] in the day of his 13 fierce anger.* From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and
it prevaileth against them; I am like a person struck with lightning, which has broken my bones and pierced my vitals: he hath spread a net for my feet, he hath turned me back: he hath made 14 me desolate [and] faint all the day. The yoke of my transgres
sions, the burden of my iniquities, is bound by his hand: they are wreathed, [and] come up upon my neck: he hath made my strength to fall, the LORD hath delivered me into [their] hands, 15 [from whom] I am not able to rise up. The LORD hath trodden under foot all my mighty [men] in the midst of me : he hath called an assembly against me to crush my young men : the LORD hath trodden the virgin, the daughter of Judah, fair and delicate as she was, [as] in a winepress; she was crushed to 16 pieces by the Chaldeans, as grapes in a press. For these [things]
I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul, is far from me my 17 children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed. Zion spreadeth forth her hands in supplication, [and there is] none to comfort her: the LORD hath commanded concerning Jacob, [that] his adversaries [should be] round about him : Jerusa
A beautiful apostrophe, much admired by the critics. The plaintiff, having no friend or companion to open his grief to, is forced to implore the pity of strangers and passengers. It intimates that no words were necessary to raise compassion, it was sufficient to look on his case, to see that his sorrow was unequalled: it intimates also, that he had met with little compassion from some that had passed by; and that therefore be expostulated with others.
lem is as a menstruous woman among them, one set apart as
18 The LORD is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandment: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity. 19 I called for my lovers, [but] they deceived me my priests and mine elders gave up the ghost in the city, while they sought 20 their meat to relieve their souls. Behold, Ó LORD; for I [am]
in distress my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me; for I have grievously rebelled: abroad the sword bereaveth, at home [there is] as death, or certain death by fam21 ine. They have heard that I sigh: [there is] none to comfort me all mine enemies have heard of my trouble; they are glad that thou hast done [it] thou wilt bring the day [that] thou hast called, and they shall be like unto me; thou wilt exe22 cute like judgments upon them, as thou hast foretold. Let all their wickedness come before thee, that is, it shall come; and do unto them, or, thou wilt do unto them, as thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions: for my sighs [are] many, and my heart [is] faint.
'HE distress of nations ought to afflict every human heart. See what calamities war makes; and what great reason we have to be thankful that we have not been witnesses of, or sharers in, such terrible desolations. We have reason to pity and pray for those who have; and to bless God for peace and plenty. But O, think of those who are now returning to their houses and possessions, and find them all waste and desolate ; and offer up earnest prayers that God would support and provide for them.
2. The distresses of the church will particularly affect every pious heart. These the prophet tenderly laments. It is great joy to good men to see the church prosperous, and the ways to Zion crouded; and grievous to see her assemblies broken up by persecution; or her ways neglected by those who have no good reason for such neglect; to see their places empty, though they can pursue their business or pleasure; and thus throw contempt upon sacred things. It is grievous to hear the wicked mocking at their sabbaths. But pious men will not look upon them as less honourable, delightful, and advantageous on that account.
3. Let us acknowledge the hand and righteousness of God in all our afflictions. This is often mentioned, righteous art thou, O Lord. It becomes us to acknowledge this before him, and before men. It is a great comfort that we can apply to him and expect relief from him. Too many when afflicted are apt to adopt the passionate complaints of the prophet; but it would be better for them to observe and adopt his expressions of humiliation, and his prayers for support.
Jeremiah laments Jerusalem's misery, and she is directed to sue earni estly for mercy and pardon.
OW hath the LORD covered the daughter of Zion with a
the earth the temple, the beauty of Israel, and remembered not 2 the ark his footstool in the day of his anger! The LORD hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob, and hath not pitied: he hath thrown down in his wrath the strong holds of the daughter of Judah; he hath brought [them] down to the ground: he hath polluted the kingdom and the princes thereof, even the 3 royal family which he had chosen himself. He hath cut off in [his] fierce anger all the horn of Israel: he hath drawn back his right hand, his wonted assistance, from before the enemy, and he burned against Jacob like a flaming fire, [which] devoureth 4 round about. He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all [that were] pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion, the honourable, the reverend and the young; he poured out his 5 fury like fire. The LORD was as an enemy, like a lion: he hath swallowed up Israel, he hath swallowed up all her palaces: he hath destroyed his strong holds, and hath increased in the 6 daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation. And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as [if it were of] a garden; as if it was a hovel or shed in a garden, contemptible and easily removed: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly the LORD hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the 7 king and the priest. The LORD hath cast off his altar, he hath abhorred his sanctuary, he hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; they have made a noise in the house of the LORD, as in the day of a solemn feast; but a very different noise, not the shout of worshippers, but of enemies; not the dying groans of victims, but of the worshippers themselves. 8 The LORD hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath stretched out a line in righteousness, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament: they languished together. 9 Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken her bars her king and her princes [are] among the Gentiles: the law [is] no [more ;] her prophets also find no vision from the LORD; her priests and nobles are gone, the book of the law is destroyed, her worship is impracticable, some of her prophets are captives, others have no vision, or none that is 10 comfortable. The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, [and] keep silence: they have cast up dust upon their
heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth; the vir 11 gins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground. Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, or, I am wounded to the liver, and my gall is poured out, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of 12 the city. They say to their mothers, who once lived in affluence, Where [is] corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into 13 their mother's bosom. thee? what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of JerusaWhat thing shall I take to witness for lem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? as if he had said, I am quite at a loss to find any simile strong enough; where can we find such an instance of distress? for thy breach [is] great like the sea; there can be 14 no means found to stop the inundation: who can heal thee? Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment; they have not dealt plainly, but have deceived thee with false hopes and 15 flattering prophecies, which have hastened thy ruin. All that pass
by clap [their] hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, [saying, Is] this the city that [men] 16 call The perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth? All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee: they hiss and gnash the teeth: they say, We have swallowed [her] up : certainly this [is] the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen [it,] we expected it would come to this, and we could 17 wish for nothing more. The LORD hath done [that] which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word, that he hath commanded in the days of old; that is, the threatenings of his law, (Lev. xxvi. 16.) he hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: and he hath caused [thine] enemy to rejoice over thee, he hath set up the 18 horn of thine adversaries. Their heart cried unto the LORD, O
wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night give thyself no rest: let not the apple of thine eye 19 cease. Arise, cry out in the night in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the LORD: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.
Behold, O LORD, and consider to whom thou hast done this. Shall the women eat their fruit, [and] children of a span long? shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the 21 LORD? The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets : my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword; thou hast slain [them] in the day of thine anger; thou hast killed [and] 22 not pitied. Thou hast called as in a solemn day my terrors round about, so that in the day of the LORD's anger none escaped nor remained: those that I have swaddled and brought up