Read Lamentations Two
Israel has been brought low. She is without mercy, worship, walls or word. She has been utterly destroyed.
The last two days we have looked at the first section of Lamentations chapter two. We have seen how verses one through ten have voiced the situation of Israel, almost reporting on the circumstances surrounding her current state. And we have heard the resounding words of the poetic prophet: God has done it.
When you consider all this – and that God allowed Israel to be captured and her city destroyed – what aspects of God’s character do you find yourself challenged to believe?
When we look at situations like this – which will be further described in today’s study, it’s hard to believe that God is compassionate. We know that He has refrained from showing Israel mercy (giving them what they deserve), but we might always wonder: God, where is your compassion?
I don’t think any question is more poignant for today’s passage than this one. So, holding tightly to the Word of God that proclaims that our God is a God of compassion – AND that He is unchanging is His character – let’s step into one of the most difficult portions of the book of Lamentations.
Read Lamentations 2:11-13. What is the poet uniquely voicing in this passage?
Which descriptions stand out most to you?
What has shifted in the message between verses one through ten and verses eleven through nineteen?
The prophetic poet is crying out to God for the dire situation Israel finds herself it. Shifting from a more “reporting” voice in the first few verses, the grief becomes personally painfully in these verses. No longer is the poet concerned with walls and buildings, but with children who are hungry and mothers who have nothing to feed them. In his grief the poet graphically depicts what very well might be right before his eyes grief that takes over all five senses. He sees gown men with their organs spilling out on the ground, he smells his own bile that he, in his grief, cannot control. He hears children squeaking to their mothers, “What’s for lunch?” and he knows the painful response embedded in the silence. And the children aren’t fainting from hunger and thirst in their own homes, but in the open streets. Destruction has touched every corner of their world, and it is too much for the poet to bear. Truly, the nation’s destruction is as vast as the sea.
It is easy to read these verses and get lost in the graphic visual it paints across our minds. But there is something in verse 11 that we cannot miss.
Read verses 10 and 11 aloud (if possible). What has shifted in the voice of the chapter between verses one through ten and verses eleven through nineteen? (note the subject of each verb).
While verses 1-10 displayed the prophetic poet’s concern from a bird’s eye view, verse 11 becomes intensely personal. The poet is no longer speaking just of what has happened, but how it feels. And it is verse 11 that causes scholars to believe that Jeremiah might be the author of this book. You see, Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet. He grieved over Israel’s sin, spending a great deal of his life in tears and lament. And verse 11 mirrors Jeremiah’s use of language and tears almost exactly.
What, in your mind, is the role of a prophet among the people of Israel in the Old Testament? What did they do?
Prophets were God’s mouthpiece. When they went astray, prophets called them to repentance. When they needed direction, prophets spoke on behalf of God. And always – ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS – prophets pointed the people of God to the Savior who was to come: Jesus.
As the weeping prophet, Jeremiah embodied God’s grief over the people’s sin. He inquired of God and God responded in tears. Hidden behind the tears of Jeremiah was a clear sign to Israel: God is weeping over your sin.
Consider verses 11-13 in light of this. How does this change our reading of this passage?
Friends, God is not absent. He is a God full of compassion. When we run from God and to our ruin, God weeps over our sin and the destruction left in its wake. God grieves when He sees His children reap the fruits of unrighteousness. God is grieved to see these children fainting in the streets and looking for water. He is grieved because He is a God of compassion.
Whether or not Jeremiah is the author of the book of Lamentations, the weepy eyes of the prophetic poet displays for Israel (and for us) God’s grief over His people’s situation. God does not delight in destruction – it is not His way! And He mourns over the sin that leads us far from home. Because He loves us.
Consider the fact that your sin grieves the heart of God. How does that change your perspective on your sin?
How does that change your perspective on the consequences of your sin?
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God that sin grieves His heart. Ask Him to lead you into repentance and into deeper fellowship with Him today.