Read Lamentations Three
So far this week we’ve considered two of the four metaphors about God used by the Man of Suffering – a rogue shepherd and a cruel jail-keeper. Today, we are looking at the second two metaphors used of God in this first section of chapter three (1-8).
But I want to give us a warning before we dive in. While the first two metaphors had an upward swing to them – reminding us and Israel that God is ultimately kind and good – the second two metaphors do not. These two metaphors sink us down the ultimate pit of despair in the book. They leave us without much hope at the end, without a vision of the goodness of God in conclusion. And so I want to encourage you – hold on! Hope is right around the corner! While we grieve and despair with the poet today, tomorrow we will see the end result rests in God. And we can always be confident that where there is God there is hope.
Read Lamentations 3:10-11. What metaphor is used of God here?
Taking a sharp turn once again, God morphs from a prison guard to a wild animal. In the Man’s eyes God is like a bear who was waiting for him – God prowled around looking for a way and an opportunity to destroy him. There is a chance that we are returning to the shepherd metaphor in some ways – unlike the shepherd who should keep watch against the bears and lions, God has joined them in their attacks. The divine bear was waiting for Israel, seeking opportunity to drive her off the path she was on and looking for an opportunity to cut her down.
Read Lamentations 3:12-15. What metaphor is used of God here?
Here the poem comes to full tempo and climaxes in a simple metaphor: God is not just a rogue shepherd, not just a cruel jail-keeper, not just a lurking lion. God is the enemy.
Israel has just been surrounded by archers. They have pierced her through, hitting her vital organs and causing her people to fall. More than that, she has been exposed to much ridicule and shame – and it’s these experiences of being made to eat gravel and sit in the dust that have added to her torture. Around her dejected form are people laughing, mocking her fame and desolation. And it’s not just a nation who has driven her to this point, but God.
The final two metaphors, to be sure, are incredibly dark. The conclusion is clear: Babylon has not brought us to this low point – God has. The Man of Suffering and the people of Israel are at their lowest point in life, in the chapter, and even possibly in the entire book. The poet is relating to us the deep, seemingly never-ending pit of despair that Israel finds herself in. She is far from God and far from home. And if God is against her, how will she ever climb out of this pit? How will she ever stand on solid ground again?
We are going to look at how the poet’s ascent from the pit begins tomorrow, but for today you and I need to hear the resounding, eternal truth from Psalm 40:
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.
Whenever we find ourselves in a pit – regardless of whether it is man-made or self-made – there is a God who can draw us out. For each and every one of us who feels that we have sunk to our lowest point, when we feel that we can fall no further from God or from His grace, His gracious character remains unchanging. We can always cry to the One who can lift us up from the pit and give us a firm place to stand. We can always pray to the One who can make our feet sure and put a song back in our mouths. We can always turn to the trustworthy, unchanging, compassionate God of power. May the first prayer we pray from the pit of our own making be a prayer of repentance and song for deliverance.
PRAY & REFLECT
Do you need to repent of sin in your life? Talk to God about it. Ask God to foster a repentant posture in your heart and life and to make you quick to repent. Confess your sin to Him and ask Him to forgive you – thank Him that in Christ He is unchangingly quick to forgive.