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Lamentations Three

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Lamentations 3:1 I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.

I am the man. The prophet, still placing himself in substitution for His sinning nation, here begins the central lamentation of the five. This is different than the two before and the one following, in that it has sixty-six verses instead of twenty-two. That is, the acrostic structure is in triplets of verses; the first three verses each begin with the letter aleph, the second three with the letter beth, and so on through the twenty-two letters. Each verse is quite brief, however, in contrast to the longer verses of the other four lamentations.

Lamentations 3:2 He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light.

Lamentations 3:3 Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day.

Lamentations 3:4 My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones.

Lamentations 3:5 He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail.

Lamentations 3:6 He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old.

Lamentations 3:7 He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy.

Lamentations 3:8 Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.

Lamentations 3:9 He hath enclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked.

Lamentations 3:10 He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places.

Lamentations 3:11 He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate.

Lamentations 3:12 He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow.

Lamentations 3:13 He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins.

reins. See note on Psalm 7:9.

Lamentations 3:14 I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day.

Lamentations 3:15 He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood.

Lamentations 3:16 He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes.

Lamentations 3:17 And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity.

Lamentations 3:18 And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:

Lamentations 3:19 Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.

Lamentations 3:20 My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.

Lamentations 3:21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.

therefore I have hope. In these closing lines of the seventh triplet, the note changes from despair to hope. Even in wrath, God remembers mercy!

Lamentations 3:22 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

compassions fail not. Jeremiah recalled that God had promised that the people of Israel would be preserved and eventually restored (Jeremiah 31:37-40; 46:28; etc.), though all he could see at the moment was devastation.

Lamentations 3:23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

great is thy faithfulness. God is faithful to His Word, even when we are not faithful and forget His Word. Note 2 Timothy 2:13.

Lamentations 3:24 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

my soul. Even when our possessions are gone, our bodies dying, and we seem utterly forsaken, we still, like Job (Job 13:15), can trust our souls to God.

will I hope. In Lamentations 3:21, Jeremiah has hope in the Lord; in Lamentations 3:24, recalling God's daily mercies and unfailing compassions, he does hope in the Lord.

Lamentations 3:25 The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

Lamentations 3:26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.

salvation. “Salvation” (Hebrew yeshua) is actually the same as “Jesus.” The dying Jacob cried out, over eleven centuries earlier, “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord” (Genesis 49:18). Jeremiah was also waiting for God's “Jesus.” So are we, today! It is good to hope daily and wait patiently for His return, but we must (like Jeremiah) also “occupy” until He comes (Luke 19:13).

Lamentations 3:27 It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.

Lamentations 3:28 He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him.

Lamentations 3:29 He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope.

Lamentations 3:30 He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach.

smiteth. See Luke 22:63. At this point, Jeremiah becomes more than ever a type of Christ in his sufferings.

Lamentations 3:31 For the Lord will not cast off for ever:

Lamentations 3:32 But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.

Lamentations 3:33 For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.

doth not afflict willingly. This verse concludes the middle triplet of the middle chapter of Lamentations. Thus this triplet (Lamentations 3:31-33) appropriately constitutes the central theme of the whole book. God is “not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9), but must lovingly chastise those of His people who rebel against His word. But “He will not always chide” (Psalm 103:9).

Lamentations 3:34 To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth,

Lamentations 3:35 To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High,

Lamentations 3:36 To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not.

the Lord approveth not. Despite all the heartbreak of divine punishment on his countrymen, the prophet still knew that “the Judge of all the earth [will] do right” (Genesis 18:25).

Lamentations 3:37 Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?

Lamentations 3:38 Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?

Lamentations 3:39 Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?

Lamentations 3:40 Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.

Lamentations 3:41 Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.

Lamentations 3:42 We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned.

Lamentations 3:43 Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied.

Lamentations 3:44 Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.

Lamentations 3:45 Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people.

Lamentations 3:46 All our enemies have opened their mouths against us.

Lamentations 3:47 Fear and a snare is come upon us, desolation and destruction.

Lamentations 3:48 Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people.

Lamentations 3:49 Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not, without any intermission,

Lamentations 3:50 Till the LORD look down, and behold from heaven.

Lamentations 3:51 Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city.

Lamentations 3:52 Mine enemies chased me sore, like a bird, without cause.

Lamentations 3:53 They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me.

Lamentations 3:54 Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off.

Lamentations 3:55 I called upon thy name, O LORD, out of the low dungeon.

low dungeon. In Lamentations 3:52-57, the prophet recalls his horrifying experience in the deep dungeon of Melchiah (Jeremiah 38:6-13).

Lamentations 3:56 Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry.

Lamentations 3:57 Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not.

Lamentations 3:58 O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life.

Lamentations 3:59 O LORD, thou hast seen my wrong: judge thou my cause.

Lamentations 3:60 Thou hast seen all their vengeance and all their imaginations against me.

Lamentations 3:61 Thou hast heard their reproach, O LORD, and all their imaginations against me;

Lamentations 3:62 The lips of those that rose up against me, and their device against me all the day.

Lamentations 3:63 Behold their sitting down, and their rising up; I am their music.

Lamentations 3:64 Render unto them a recompense, O LORD, according to the work of their hands.

Lamentations 3:65 Give them sorrow of heart, thy curse unto them.

Lamentations 3:66 Persecute and destroy them in anger from under the heavens of the LORD.

Persecute and destroy them. In these closing verses of his longest lamentation, the prophet in effect composes an imprecatory psalm, calling on God to take vengeance on his enemies, for his enemies were really God's enemies, and vengeance belongs to God.