Saturday

“I am one who has seen affliction under the rod of God’s wrath” (v. 1)

Lamentations 3:1-9 Saturday 12 March 2016

Psalm: Psalm 55:16-22


Background

The book of Lamentations is often associated with Jeremiah,though we do not know who wrote this set of 'dirges', or songs ofmourning. They were written after the fall of Jerusalem to theBabylonians in 587 or 586 BC when the city was razed to the ground,and the people deported into captivity in Babylon, 600 miles away(2Kings 24:10-12; 25:8-12). Lost in translation is the fact thathere we have the first three verses of a 22-verse poem (Lamentations 3) in which the three lines ofeach successive verse begin with the next letter of the Hebrewalphabet - so here we have the verses of the letters aleph, beth,and gimel. Hence this chapter is an attempt to set out the whole Ato Z (or aleph to taw) of grief.

Here is a description of the situation in which God's people nowfind themselves in. They are being driven into captivity by theunrelenting beatings of the Babylonians (verse 1). Near to deathand starving after a siege which had lasted between one and twoyears (verses 4-5), the lights of the city have been extinguished(verse 6). A chained forced march leads towards Babylon (verse 7).The writer poetically speaks of being walled in as a captive,whilst at the same time speaking of the hewn stones which are nowstrewn in his path as the walls of the city have been demolished(verse 9).

Read the passage a second time, and see it as thepersonification of the city - where, for example, the "skin" and"bones" (v. 4) are the walls and buildings of Jerusalem.

Yet this beating is seen as coming from God, as this chapterfollows on from Lamentations 2:22, which speaks of the anger ofGod bringing punishment to God's faithless people. Instead of thebesieging army being shut out of the city, it appears that the gateshuts out prayer (verse 8). God is not ready to help those who haveabandoned God's covenant (2Chronicles 36:14-21).


To Ponder

  • Sometimes people struggle to know whether God is listening totheir prayers or not. What can you say to them that might help themin this situation?
  • People sometimes say, "God must have done this for a purpose".Is this always helpful? Why, or why not?
  • Does tribulation have to go hand-in-hand with bitterness? Ifnot, what separates these two?
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