Read Lamentations one through five
You made it through your first day of the Book Overview Study. How did it go? I want you to know that if your answers don’t line up with mine below that it is okay. Not only am I not the measuring line (praise God for that!), but learning to study the Bible exegetically is a process, which is why God calls us to do it in community.
Today I’ll share the answers I came to with you, but even if your answers don’t line up with mine, I want to remind you of three things:
1) Mine are not the “right” answers necessarily. I’m learning even as you’re learning, so test my answers – ALWAYS test my answers – against the Word of God. I’m fallible, the Word is not.
2) Even if you struggled through this exercise, the fact that you’re doing the hard work of exegetical Bible study is forming you! It is teaching you how to study the Bible and teaching you that His Word is worth studying. Keep at it. Don’t be discouraged!
3) We’re all learners. We are all “Pilgrims on the way” as we learn about God, His Word, and His Kingdom. There is grace and space for each of us to assume a posture of learning.
Okay … let’s dive in! Below are my answers and references to which chapter and verse gave me insight into the answer.
Book of the Bible:
Who is the author?
The book itself does not say. Some scholars believe that the author is Jeremiah because there are several places where the language of the book of Jeremiah and the language of the book of Lamentations are similar. There is nothing in the book of Lamentations that could not reasonably be attributed to Jeremiah, but we still don’t know for certain who wrote the book.
Who is the audience?
This book would have been for the people of Israel, but the writing itself is directed to God.
What do we know about the situation of the writing?
We don’t know the author, but we do know that he is a member of the nation of Israel who has suffered great loss in recent days (more on this below).
Author’s relationship with the audience:
The book is written from a congregational perspective. The writer is a member of the people of God and is grieving alongside the people of God all that has been lost.
Historical circumstances surrounding the writing of the book:
This book was almost certainly written in response to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC. Even though Judah and Jerusalem were invaded at other times and were attacked many times throughout their history, 587 BC marks the complete devastation of Israel’s capital. This is hinted at throughout the book with references to rubble and the city being laid waste. Israel’s temple has been decimated and the Israelites have been driven from their homeland.
What do we know about the situation of the audience?
Audience’s cultural background:
They are Israelites. They have followed God throughout the Old Testament (to Egypt, out of Egypt, into the wilderness, and into the promised land). They have a covenant relationship with Yahweh.
Is the audience mentioned anywhere else in the Bible:
Yes! The entire Old Testament tells their story and their longing for the Messiah to come.
Where does this book fall within the metanarrative of Scripture:
It falls within the poetic books since it is composed of five poems.
After reading these answers, how did you feel about your own? Where do you need practice? How would you like to grow in doing Book Overview studies? I’d love to hear from you! If you want to dialogue on the topic, jump over to Facebook and comment on the Book Overview graphic. I can’t wait to hear what you’re thinking about!
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God that His Word is so deep even the greatest scholars will never plumb its depths. Ask Him to open your heart and mind to learn from His Word throughout the study. Ask Him to give you a passion for loving Him with all your mind.