Read Lamentations Three
With a firm understanding of chapter 3’s literary and poetic structure in hand, let’s consider the content of the chapter.
Read Lamentations 3. What recurring themes arise?
Do you notice any repeated words or phases?
Chapter 3 breaks into three natural sections. Can you identify them?
Chapter 3 leads off with familiar language. As the poet voices his situation and the suffering of his people, we’re in familiar territory. “I am the man who has seen affliction,” he tells us. “I am under the rod of his wrath.” Similar to what we have seen in chapters 1 and 2, the opening lines recognize the wrath of God. God is the subject for each verb. He is the One causing the poet’s flesh and skin to waste away. He has allowed such suffering to come upon the people of Israel for their disobedience. None of this is new to us, and none of this should surprise us.
We also find similar language at the end of this chapter. If we were to skip to the last few verses of chapter three, we would notice God’s wrath on display again. But this time, it is anger extended against the poet’s enemies. The poet is calling out for God to bring extreme suffering – suffering like his own – on the heads of his enemies. Wrath and extreme suffering are the bookends to chapter three.
And then, right in the middle of all of this we find a refreshing refrain: God is good.
Smack dab in the middle of this chapter the poet breaks into song over the unchanging character of his God:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
I don’t know about you, but I read these verses with a sigh of relief. I was weary of the suffering, tortured by the grief. And then, God’s goodness was brought like a refreshing change in tune.
Read Lamentations 3:22-42. What character traits does the poet ascribe to God?
How do these character traits relate to the wrath and suffering in the verses surrounding them?
Even in the deepest pit of despair, there is hope. It’s not hope because our circumstances are bound to change or because the sun will rise. There is hope because God never ceases to be who He is. The poet does not recite cultural half-truths about the invisibility of their nation or false hopes of returning to his home. No, he rests his hope squarely on God’s character, knowing that everything else will disappoint him. Seasons will change, circumstances will change, homes and families will come and go, nations will rise and fall … but our God will remain unchanged through the ages.
PRAY & REFLECT
Praise God that He alone is unchanging. Have you placed you hope in anything else? Confess to God that He alone is worthy of your trust, reliance, and faith. Praise Him that His character is firmly fixed as your ultimate hope in life and death.