Monday after the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Lamentations 3-5 (NKJV)
3:1 I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. 2 He has led me and made me walk In darkness and not in light. 3 Surely He has turned His hand against me time and time again throughout the day.
4 He has aged my flesh and my skin, and broken my bones. 5 He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and woe. 6 He has set me in dark places like the dead of long ago.
7 He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out; He has made my chain heavy. 8 Even when I cry and shout, He shuts out my prayer. 9 He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked.
10 He has been to me a bear lying in wait, like a lion in ambush. 11 He has turned aside my ways and torn me in pieces; He has made me desolate. 12 He has bent His bow and set me up as a target for the arrow.
13 He has caused the arrows of His quiver to pierce my loins. 14 I have become the ridicule of all my people—their taunting song all the day. 15 He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drink wormwood.
16 He has also broken my teeth with gravel, and covered me with ashes. 17 You have moved my soul far from peace; I have forgotten prosperity. 18 And I said, “My strength and my hope have perished from the LORD.”
19 Remember my affliction and roaming, the wormwood and the gall. 20 My soul still remembers and sinks within me. 21 This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. 26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. 27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.
28 Let him sit alone and keep silent, because God has laid it on him; 29 Let him put his mouth in the dust—there may yet be hope. 30 Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him, and be full of reproach.
31 For the Lord will not cast off forever. 32 Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. 33 For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.
34 To crush under one’s feet all the prisoners of the earth, 35 to turn aside the justice due a man before the face of the Most High, 36 or subvert a man in his cause—the Lord does not approve.
37 Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well-being proceed? 39 Why should a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?
40 Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD; 41 Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven. 42 We have transgressed and rebelled; You have not pardoned.
43 You have covered Yourself with anger and pursued us; You have slain and not pitied. 44 You have covered Yourself with a cloud, that prayer should not pass through. 45 You have made us an offscouring and refuse In the midst of the peoples.
46 All our enemies have opened their mouths against us. 47 Fear and a snare have come upon us, desolation and destruction. 48 My eyes overflow with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people.
49 My eyes flow and do not cease, without interruption, 50 till the LORD from heaven looks down and sees. 51 My eyes bring suffering to my soul because of all the daughters of my city.
52 My enemies without cause hunted me down like a bird. 53 They silenced my life in the pit and threw stones at me. 54 The waters flowed over my head; I said, “I am cut off!”
55 I called on Your name, O LORD, from the lowest pit. 56 You have heard my voice: “Do not hide Your ear from my sighing, from my cry for help.” 57 You drew near on the day I called on You, and said, “Do not fear!”
58 O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul; You have redeemed my life. 59 O LORD, You have seen how I am wronged; Judge my case. 60 You have seen all their vengeance, all their schemes against me.
61 You have heard their reproach, O LORD, all their schemes against me, 62 the lips of my enemies and their whispering against me all the day. 63 Look at their sitting down and their rising up; I am their taunting song.
64 Repay them, O LORD, according to the work of their hands. 65 Give them a veiled heart; Your curse be upon them! 66 In Your anger, pursue and destroy them from under the heavens of the LORD.
4:1 How the gold has become dim! How changed the fine gold! The stones of the sanctuary are scattered at the head of every street.
2 The precious sons of Zion, valuable as fine gold, how they are regarded as clay pots, the work of the hands of the potter!
3 Even the jackals present their breasts to nurse their young; But the daughter of my people is cruel, like ostriches in the wilderness.
4 The tongue of the infant clings to the roof of its mouth for thirst; The young children ask for bread, but no one breaks it for them.
5 Those who ate delicacies are desolate in the streets; Those who were brought up in scarlet embrace ash heaps.
6 The punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, with no hand to help her!
7 Her Nazirites were brighter than snow and whiter than milk; They were more ruddy in body than rubies, like sapphire in their appearance.
8 Now their appearance is blacker than soot; They go unrecognized in the streets; Their skin clings to their bones, it has become as dry as wood.
9 Those slain by the sword are better off than those who die of hunger; For these pine away, stricken for lack of the fruits of the field.
10 The hands of the compassionate women have cooked their own children; They became food for them in the destruction of the daughter of my people.
11 The LORD has fulfilled His fury, He has poured out His fierce anger. He kindled a fire in Zion, and it has devoured its foundations.
12 The kings of the earth, and all inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy could enter the gates of Jerusalem—
13 because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed in her midst the blood of the just.
14 They wandered blind in the streets; They have defiled themselves with blood, so that no one would touch their garments.
15 They cried out to them, “Go away, unclean! Go away, go away, Do not touch us!” When they fled and wandered, those among the nations said, “They shall no longer dwell here.”
16 The face of the LORD scattered them; He no longer regards them. The people do not respect the priests nor show favor to the elders.
17 Still our eyes failed us, watching vainly for our help; In our watching we watched for a nation that could not save us.
18 They tracked our steps so that we could not walk in our streets. Our end was near; Our days were over, for our end had come.
19 Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles of the heavens. They pursued us on the mountains and lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
20 The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was caught in their pits, of whom we said, “Under his shadow we shall live among the nations.”
21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, you who dwell in the land of Uz! The cup shall also pass over to you and you shall become drunk and make yourself naked.
22 The punishment of your iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; He will no longer send you into captivity. He will punish your iniquity, O daughter of Edom; He will uncover your sins!
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. 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! 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 aptness of the name “Lamentations” is evident throughout these chapters; so many centuries removed from the fall of Jerusalem, the description of the sorrows of the people in those days is still painful to read. Tradition attributes this book to Jeremiah, and in these chapters we see the testimony of the prophet concerning all that has befallen those who did not repent. “How lonely sits the city that was full of people!” (1:1) What unfolds in these chapters is a series of images of the depths of depravity which are manifest when those who have not repented find a measure of the punishment for their sins visited upon them in this life. Thus we read, “The punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, with no hand to help her!” (4:6) Death has come to the land, with famine, nakedness, and sword. Even the mothers are turned against their children—a measure of the depravity which has come upon the people!
But even in these bleak circumstances, there is still hope. “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!'” (3:22-24) These words are read in the church on Jubilate Sunday in the Easter season, a powerful instruction that in the very midst of the travails of this life which are visited on us on account of sin, that still the mercy of the Lord abounds, and His saints have hope in every circumstance of life, for they have been baptized into Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Prayer: Lord, we beseech Thee, grant Thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the devil and with pure hearts and minds to follow Thee, the only God; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.