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Bible Commentaries

The Church Pulpit Commentary

Lamentations 1

Verse 12


‘See if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.’

Lamentations 1:12

I. The full instruction of the Lamentations of Jeremiah can be understood only by a consideration of the previous state and position of the prophet himself.—Joyous, hopeful, and confident, are the words of Isaiah; but the language of Jeremiah is just the reverse. He lived at a time when his country was polluted by corruption and sin; when the throne of Judah had long been held by monarchs unworthy to occupy that high and lofty position. Jeremiah stood almost alone amongst his countrymen as a messenger of truth. For forty long years, day by day, he saw the end draw nigh; and he stood, like a pillar of iron or a tower of brass, solitary, fearless, and undismayed. But when the judgments of God rained down upon the devoted city he counselled submission; he advised the resignation of a part for the sake of the whole. The end approached, the queenly city fell; and when the cup of misery was drained to its very dregs, the whole tone of the prophet changed. After the captivity of Judah and the desolation of Jerusalem, Jeremiah sat down and wept, and poured forth his lamentations. A rocky cave is still shown to strangers as the place where the prophet buried himself in his prostration of grief, and in which his overwhelming sorrow has been so forcibly portrayed by the genius of Michael Angelo. His agony is allowed free course. While he still dwells for a moment, now and then, on the former sins of the people, or cries for vengeance on the enemy, all else is forgotten but the ruin of the royal city and the blackened and charred skeletons of her noble palaces. All else is forgotten as he sees the high-born women in their crimson robes raking among putrid rubbish for the failing supply of food; and when he heard the parched tongues of the children, all but fainting in the silent street, asking for bread and crying to their mothers for food, he sat down and wept. The Book of Lamentations is from beginning to end a heart-rent cry for succour and aid. It is the one Book which the Bible contains of the agonised utterances of inconsolable desolation.

II. What can we learn from this Book of Lamentations?—(1) The general principle involved, which is as old, indeed, as the heart of man, but which men are ever apt to forget. It is about, and above, and beyond, and beside, and across, all calls and claims of thought—the cry of suffering humanity for help. However much Jeremiah had to say of past sins, the great prospects and the glorious future of the kingdom, they were, in the presence of this overwhelming sorrow, thrown aside. (2) These great calamities demand the closest sympathy. All men are drawn together with the band of common woe and human suffering. Death quits all scores, and misery and suffering open all hearts, and show that all men are really akin. Physical distress demands more than sympathy. As St. James says, ‘If a brother or sister be naked, or destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?’ On some occasions the simplest attention to the calls of humanity breaks down all partitions, unites all creeds, churches, and nations, and draws the whole world together.

—Dean Stanley.


‘There was no phase or incident of the human lot—not even death itself—which to the ancient Hebrews was so full of pathos as was exile or banishment. Death was accepted as inevitable, striking men swiftly and once for all in any abiding-place, but loss of home and country was a sort of death in life, frustrating the very ends and purposes of life itself. It is not difficult to account for this great horror, even on the ground of beliefs and associations, which were common to the Hebrews with their kindred among the ancient Semites.’



I. The sorrow of Jesus is the reflected sorrow of God.

II. The sorrow of Jesus is the projected shadow of sin.

III. It was wholly vicarious; that is, it was pure sympathy.

IV. It was the outcome of a truer and a deeper estimate of man.


‘At the siege of Port Arthur General Nogi lost his two sons, and then his nephew, the latter of whom would have succeeded him in the title. As each successive loss was reported to him the General maintained a stolid exterior. He betrayed no emotion. He knew that that was the price to pay for war, and that he had sent too many brave men to death to complain of his own bereavement. But the Times war correspondent, who had it from the General’s staff, says that, in spite of his cheery ways and his confident mien during the day, Nogi, when night came on, and when others having retired to rest he believed himself to be alone and unobserved, would sit with his head buried in his hands and the tears welling through his fingers. And so there is another side to the character of God. The Almighty “keepeth not His anger for ever.” Infinite love, in the presence of such a world as this, means infinite pity and commiseration.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Lamentations 1". The Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.