Read Lamentations Three
We invested our study time last week looking at the literary structure of Lamentations chapter three. I use the word “invested” intentionally; our time is limited, and we want to spend it wisely. I can’t think of a more prudent place to spend it than in the Word of God. Truly, it is one of the few places we can spend our time with the assurance that it will not be wasted (Isaiah 55). And looking at the literary structure of the book and of chapter three is no exception. As we seek to study the book with intentionality and precision, we do the good and necessary and Christ-honoring work of loving God with all our minds. It takes discipline to delay personal application and reflection in lieu of exegetical Bible study, but understanding the Word in its own, original context is always, always worth it.
This week, we’re going to return to working verse-by-verse through the chapter. Chapter three is broken naturally into three movements, which we considered last week. We are going to dedicate a week of study to each.
Read Lamentations 3 (aloud if possible). Identify the three primary movements/sections in the chapter.
Read Lamentations 3:1-18. What, in your summation, is this section about?
Consider the list of poetic characters we have studied (Lady Zion, The Man, etc.). Who is speaking?
Look back at chapter two. Is there a character/voice shift that occurs between chapter two and chapter three?
What do you think is significant about this transition?
In Lamentations 3:1-18 we hear personally from the poet, the Man of Suffering. In chapter two, the poet describes the destruction of Jerusalem objectively, using third person language like “it” and “she” to dictate what has happened to the beloved holy city. Now, the suffering is personal and intense. The poet, we learn in chapter three, has been personally involved in the suffering he has described. He reflects and represents the personal and corporate grief of the people of God.
Remind yourself what the poet is describing. Summarize the grievous experience of Jerusalem in your own words.
Jerusalem has been besieged by her national enemies. The entire city has collapsed into destruction. Friends and neighbors have died in battle and those who remain have fled into the wilderness or have been taken into exile. Having put God out of their minds and national life, they wandered from His Law and His ways, and they now face the hopeless fate of national exile. Israel is far from God and far from home.
What is the significance of the Man of Suffering speaking in the first person about this experience?
Read Isaiah 53:3. Who is being described here?
What parallels are there to the experience of the Man of Sorrows in Isaiah 53 and the Man of Suffering in Lamentations 3?
Read Isaiah 53:3-5.
The Man of Suffering has endured much. Together with the nation of Israel he has seen death result literally from deliberate and corporate sin. He knows all too well the closeness of the Genesis promise that sin will lead to death. And yet … his very name as the Man of Suffering points us forward to the One who would come, the ultimate Man of Sorrows who would bear the brunt of sin’s fatal, deathly, bloody consequences. The Man of Suffering knows that one day the Man of Sorrows will come, join them in their social rejection, befriend them in their grief, and sit with them on the road of the despised (recall Lady Zion in chapter one). And, ultimately, the Man of Sorrows would carry their rebellious sin all the way to the cross, all the way to the grave, and would take up His own life again to restore them into right relationship with God. To God be the glory!
In your own suffering, how can the suffering Christ be a comfort and a hope?
PRAY & REFLECT
Pray through the words of Isaiah 53. Thank God for His suffering sacrifice. Praise Him that in your deepest suffering, when you are farthest from God, you will never fall beneath the nail-pierced hands of the Suffering One.