LAMENTATIONS 2018 | DAY XXXIV

Read Lamentations Three 

Even in hardship and suffering, God’s character is good. When God faithfully brings the consequences for sin on His people in an act of calling them back to repentance, He does it out of His goodness. 

Yesterday, we saw the way the poet reminds himself and his people (and us!) that God does not delight in the affliction. Grieving His people is not in His heart. He takes no delight in it. 

Read Lamentations 3:34-39. How do these verses further the author’s argument that God does not delight in the suffering of His people?

What aspects of God’s eternal character are on display in these verses? Break the passage down line by line, and note one unchanging attribute of God the poet is pointing out in each:

For He does not afflict from the heart:

To crush underfoot the prisoners of the earth:

To deny a man justice in the presence of the Most High:

To subvert a man in his lawsuit, the Lord does not approve:

Who has spoken and it came to pass unless the Lord commanded it:

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come:

Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins:

Having turned his face towards God in repentance, the poet can now see God’s character for what it is. No longer shrouded by self-righteousness and indignation at his situation, the poet sees who God is and His unchanging character. 

For He does not afflict from the heart:

God is a God of kindness. The Lord takes no delight in the affliction of His people. Unlike the gods of surrounding nations, YHWH does not take pleasure in watching His people suffer. He is eternally good, delighting in the flourishing of His people.

To crush underfoot the prisoners of the earth:

God is a God of compassion. God does not divinely approve of the lowest of the earth being oppressed. He will not stand for it when the prisoners of the earth are crushed by those who lord it over them. Israel knows this all too well! They experienced the corrective judgment of God when they oppressed their poor and let the orphans go hungry. Even when the poet looks around at his own situation – a war-torn country, a people far from home – he knows that this is not in the heart of God.

To deny a man justice in the presence of the Most High:

God is a God of justice. God does not approve of denying a person a just case before God. There is no sense in God’s judgment that this has been done unfairly. God will always be just, and in this situation, God’s justice led straight to the consequences of Israel’s sin.

To subvert a man in his lawsuit, the Lord does not approve:

God is a God of truth. He will not let the people’s case be overrun by someone seeking their demise. No, Israel has not been dealt an unfair hand by someone’s malicious intent. God has been a just and honest witness against them and their sin. 

Who has spoken and it came to pass unless the Lord commanded it:

God is a God of power. He speaks and it comes into being. Nothing can happen, the poet acknowledges, without God calling it forth by His power. 

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come:

God is a God of sovereignty. Though we cannot reconcile it in our minds, God allows good and bad to come on His people, according to His sovereign will. The poet knows that he does not understand, but he also knows his lack of understanding does not cease to make it so. 

Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins:

God is a God of faithfulness. As we have seen, God faithfully calls His people back to Himself. When He promises that sin will lead to consequences, it does. When He tells His people that their sin will lead to death, it does. He is faithful.

Even in the hardest, darkest, deepest point of suffering in his life, the poet places the character of God squarely before him. He chooses to see God in his suffering and acknowledge God’s unchanging character even as he experiences the consequences of his sin.

Which of these attributes of God’s is hardest for you to see in your suffering?

Which of these attributes of God’s is hardest for you to believe?

How can you in your current situation place God’s character squarely before you?

PRAY & REFLECT

Pray through the attributes mentioned above. As you continue to repent before God of your sin, praise Him for His unchanging character. Ask Him to help you see it in your own life, even in suffering. 

Author: amygannett

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