Read Lamentations One
This week we are stepping into the text with eyes wide open to learn from the poem of Lament. With the historic and cultural context under our belts, and with something of the overarching themes in hand, we are ready to study Lamentations 1:1.
Read Lamentations 1:1. What do the first words of the chapter do to set the tone for the book?
The first word in the entire book is the Hebrew word אֵיכָ֣ה. (pronounced “ek”) It is a single word from which we get our entire opening phrase “how desolate.” It is a cry of lament in and of itself, just a few short letters strung together that bear the weight of grief that is to come. We don’t have an exact translation in the English, but the closest might be something like, “Alas!” or “Oh!” The word is small but the meaning is great.
What is the author lamenting? Remember the historic events surrounding the writing of this book?
What are some of the particular words the author uses to describe the grieving one in Lamentations 1:1-3?
Each verse describes a different sphere of loss for the one grieving. Read the verses again and try to identify the three different spheres of loss.
Though the author does not yet identify the one grieving, we know from our overview study that Israel is at the center of the lament. The author first grieves that Israel has lost her honor. The author remembers how the city was once full of people and is now sitting on her own, all alone. She was once considered top rate among the nations, the “queen of the ball” as The Message summarizes it. But now she’s been made a servant. How far the nation has fallen!
Next, the author grieves the personal loss of Israel. The nation has lost her lovers. Though she may have had many, none remains to hold her hand in her time of trouble. All her friends have left. They scattered at the first sign of trouble. Israel is personally alone.
And lastly, the author grieves (Ek!) that Israel has lost her home. She is far from the place where she felt most herself, the place where she knew who she was, and the place where she was at peace. She is in exile – camped out among the nations. She can’t ever feel at home here, and she has no idea how to get back.
Through the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, Israel has seemingly lost everything.
Consider your own life. Have you lost honor? Are there circumstances in your life that have left you feeling embarrassed or ashamed?
Have you experienced the personal loss of friends or loved ones? Have you felt the sting of abandonment?
Have you lost a sense of home?
If you’re feeling the weight of this study already, you’re not alone. This book is dripping with grief. And, as we are going to see, it is also dripping with grace. Each day of our study will end something like this – with some unanswered questions and a heavy sense in our chests that everything is not as it should be. But do not lose hope – as we progress through these verses we are going to discover the God who is present with us in our pain, and the grace of a God who suffered in our place.
PRAY & REFLECT
Has this study surfaced any areas of grief in your own life? Talk to God about them. Thank Him that He is always present with you in your grief. Thank Him that every page of God’s Word proclaims the good news of the Gospel – even these unexpected passages.