-The book of Jeremiah had predicted the destruction of Jerusalem. Lamentations is now the second book by Jeremiah the prophet which looks back in grief over the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah under the Babylonian captivity occurring soon after 586 B.C. Jerusalem had been ransacked, her people taken, tortured, or killed. It was a gruesome scene of devastation and mourning. We sense the grief of God poured out into his prophet Jeremiah through these words. We see the backside, the aftereffects, of God’s judgment upon a rebellious society. And, to be honest, it is not pretty. We hear the groans, we experience the crying as it pulls on our emotional heartstrings. Therefore the purpose of the book was to show people that to disobey God is to invite disaster. But, also it is written to express that God suffers when His people suffer as we will see. Out of the ashes, the prophet will give a glimmer of God-given hope as the LORD’s compassion never fails ultimately. His faithfulness is greater than our demise, and He alone will prevent total annihilation through His power to save. The megathemes of the work include the importance of desperate prayer, confession of sin, destruction as a result of disobedience, God’s enduring mercy, and the final hope.
-Chapter one should be entitled “Jeremiah mourns for Jerusalem.” The sorrow for Zion is palpable as the lonely city sits without its inhabitants. The once great city among the nations has become like a hollow widow and slave. She weeps bitterly in the night with tears on her cheeks with none to comfort her. All her friends have denied her and dealt treacherously with her as enemies. Judah experiences exile under affliction with harsh servitude her plight. She dwells among the nations now finding no rest in her land. All her pursuers have overtaken her, and she is distressed completely. Her roads are in mourning because no one is joyously going up them to the appointed feasts of Moses’ Law. Her gates are desolate. Her priests are groaning in agony. Her virgins are afflicted. God’s city is bitter. Her adversaries have now become her masters with prosperity and riches, for the LORD has caused her to grieve due to her transgressions. All her majesty has departed, and she has no strength left (Lamentations 1:1-6).
-In these days of affliction and homelessness, she remembers all her precious things that were from the days of old. Now she is mocked by her adversary in her ruin. “Jerusalem sinned greatly” is the sad commentary by the true prophet of God. She became unclean and lost her honor as God’s people. The enemy therefore saw her nakedness, and even she herself must now groan and turn away. “She did not consider her future, therefore she has fallen astonishingly (Lamentations 1:7-9a).” The cry goes out to the LORD to see their affliction, but it is too late. The enemy has magnified himself by entering into her sanctuary and entering His congregation in an unholy fashion. The people of Jerusalem are now groaning as they seek for bread and sustenance. Their precious things they give away just to eat. The LORD has dealt out His vengeance in anger causing pain and suffering untold. The prophet Jeremiah pines, “From on high He sent fire (judgment through prophetic word) into my bones, and it prevailed over them.” Now the land is left desolate and faint all day long. There is a yoke of transgression binding the people and making their strength fail. They are not able to stand to defend. The LORD has rejected their strong men and crushed them, even the virgin daughter of Judah (Lamentations 1:9b-15).
-For these horrific things the prophet weeps and far away is his comforter, the One who restores his soul. The enemy has prevailed as predicted. The summary for Israel is this, “The LORD is righteous; for I have rebelled against His command; hear now, all peoples, and behold my pain; my virgins and my young men have gone into captivity (Lamentations 1:16-18).” The foreign lovers deceived in their idolatry. The elders and priests who went along with their folly have now perished in the city while they sought out food to strengthen themselves. “In the street the sword slays; in the house it is like death.” The ravages of being taken over are reiterated with a plea for the day of the LORD to come for vindication upon the enemies who have done this to Jerusalem. As for this time though, all is desperate as they pay for their transgressions. Their groans are many, and their heart is faint (Lamentations 1:19-22). *Application* This is a stark reminder of the society once prosperous because of the blessing of God forgetting their way to the point of annihilation and depravity. We should remember all God has done for us and be thankful, being ever vigilant against compromise with the deceit of idolatry and transgression against the King (Psalm 77:11). God is holy and will not share His glory with an obstinate bunch. His discipline can be severe as we see here, so stay humble and obedient to His righteous ways. It is for our good. He does not desire to show His heavy Hand, but will to straighten out the wayward (Psalm 5:4).
Verse to Memorize: Lamentations 1:18