Read Lamentations One
Yesterday we answered the question of what has happened and why it has happened: Israel’s temple has been destroyed (and the surrounding city) because of her sin. Today, we need to consider the kind of sin that is in view here in order to fully appreciate the lament of the author. Sin, like our English use of the word love, has more translation values in Hebrew. Where English has one word for love, the biblical languages have five. Where English has one word for sin, Hebrew has several. We need to understand the kind of sin we are talking about in order to understand what is in view here and to know how to properly respond.
Read Lamentations 1 in full. Mark every reference to sin.
The Hebrew word used here for sin is פְּשָׁעֶ֑יהָ and it comes from the root word פֶּ֫שַׁע (“peh’-shah”). Let’s do a word study in order to grasp the intent of the author when using this word.
Look up the following verses where the word פֶּ֫שַׁע is used. Identify the way the word is being used and how it fills out your understanding of sin.
The sin that is in view here – that is referenced with the word פֶּ֫שַׁע – is not a specific occurrence of an individual’s sin, but the covenant-breaking sin of a people. Throughout the Bible we learn about God’s unchanging character – how He makes covenants with His undeserving people, promising to be their God and to lead them. And, He is a covenant-keeping God. He is always faithful, never-failing. In fact, one of the Hebrew words for “faithfulness” refers intrinsically to God’s covenant-keeping ways. And this word, פֶּ֫שַׁע, is the opposite of that. This is the sin that breaks communal covenant with God. This sin turns people away from His Word and will, and willfully, intentionally, and corporately breaks relationship with God.
Read Lamentations 1:7-11. Where is the word פֶּ֫שַׁע used in these verses?
What is the result of Israel’s פֶּ֫שַׁע?
How does this understanding of sin in Lamentations 1 help you better grasp Israel’s situation and consequences?
God takes sin seriously because He takes His covenant seriously. God, in His infinite mercy and kindness, made a covenant with His people, Israel. They were blessed as they walked in His ways and abided in His Lordship. And when they broke that covenant in their sin, God did not look away, but allowed the consequences of their sin to find them.
Have the consequences for your sin caught up with you?
In what ways might you today be walking this kind of covenant-breaking sin?
How does our understanding of the word פֶּ֫שַׁע illuminate God’s character as a covenant-keeping God?
PRAY & REFLECT
Praise God that He has reached out and made a covenant with His people. Praise Him that He will always keep that covenant. Confess to Him any areas in which you have broken or are prone to break that covenant. Praise Him for His Son who restores you to Him through His death and resurrection.