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The second lamentation:
How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and he has cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger! The Lord has swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob, and has not pitied: he hath thrown down in his wrath the strongholds of the daughter of Judah; he hath brought them down to the ground: he hath polluted the kingdom and the princes thereof. He has cut off in his fierce anger all of the horn of Israel: he has drawn back his right hand from before the enemy, he has burned against Jacob like a flaming fire, which devours round about. He has bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire ( Lamentations 2:1-4 ).
It must have been an awesome and a very traumatic experience to have seen the destruction that was wrecked upon Jerusalem by the Babylonian army. When, after eighteen months of siege, they finally broke into the city and began to slay with the sword. Even before they broke the walls and came in, people were already starving to death within the city. It was a horrible scene. Jeremiah can't get it out of his mind, the thoughts and the sights that he saw. They were imprinted in his mind. And now, as he sees it lying desolate, he reflects over these things. And he tells some of the things that were happening, and they are so horrible that they would make those kind of impressions in your mind that cause you to shudder whenever you think of them. And they are those mental images that you just can't seem to remove. As you see the people starving to death, falling on the streets, faint, weak, once mighty people, once a proud people, but now so defeated and destroyed.
The Lord was as an enemy: he swallowed up Israel, he has swallowed up all of her palaces: he has destroyed the strongholds, he has increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation. He hath violently taken away the tabernacle, as if it were of a garden; he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the LORD has caused the solemn feasts and the sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest. The Lord hath cast off his altar, he has abhorred his sanctuary, he hath given up in the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; they have made a noise in the house of the LORD, as in the day of the solemn feast ( Lamentations 2:5-7 ).
That is, the enemies were in there cheering and yelling and all as they were destroying it, much as the voices and cheers and all that once went up in the days of their solemn feasts.
The LORD hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath stretched out a line, he has not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together. Her gates are sunk into the ground; he has destroyed and broken her bars: her king and her princes are now among the Gentiles: there is no more law; her prophets also find no vision from the LORD. The elders of the daughters of Zion sit on the ground, and keep silent: they have cast dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth: and the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground. And my eyes do fail because of the tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured out upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city ( Lamentations 2:7-11 ).
It's almost more than he can bear. He sees these little children and little nursing babies fainting because of the lack of food. He sees them as they are swooning, just staggering through the streets. Young girls, their heads bowed down to the ground. The old men just sitting there staring blankly in sackcloth with dust, with dirt. They've just covered themselves with dirt and there is no place to go. There's no hope. It's all gone.
The little children say to their mothers, Where is the corn and the wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mothers' bosom. What thing shall I take to witness for thee? what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee? Your prophets have seen vain and foolish things for you: and they have not discovered your iniquity, to turn away your captivity; but they have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment. All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth? ( Lamentations 2:12-15 )
Desolate, destroyed, ravaged city, once the perfection of beauty. Once the joy of the whole earth, and now it's being hissed at as people walk by, clapping their hands and shaking their heads.
All of your enemies have opened their mouth against thee: they hiss, gnash the teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up: certainly this is the day that we have looked for; we have found, and we have seen. The LORD hath done that which he had devised; he has fulfilled his word that he commanded in the days of old ( Lamentations 2:12-17 ):
God was faithful to His warnings. He had told them if they did not turn from their wickedness, if they did not turn from their idolatry, that He was going to bring their enemies against them and they would be destroyed. God has done that which He had purposed.
he has fulfilled his word that he commanded in the days of old: he has thrown down, he's not pitied: he has caused your enemies to remove joy over thee, he has set up the horn of your adversaries [the power of your adversaries]. Their heart cried unto the Lord, O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest; let not the apple of thine eye cease ( Lamentations 2:17-18 ).
He's calling them for intercession to weep before God until God does a work again.
Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up your hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street ( Lamentations 2:19 ).
"Isn't this enough," Jeremiah is saying, "to challenge you to seek God, to seek God all night long? Look at your little children swooning in the streets. Pray for them that God will somehow work His work again among the people." They were living in an extremely desperate time, but they were not yet really desperate before the Lord. They were just plain desperate, but really not seeking God. You wonder what will it take to cause men to really seek God, to really cry out? The Bible says, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" ( James 5:16 ).
My mom tells me how that one time when I was a little kid and I was sick, and she came into the bedroom and laid hands on me, and I was running a fever. And she prayed, "Oh Lord, touch Charles, you know, and heal him." And when she was through praying, I said to her, "Mom, now pray like you really mean it." And I wonder how many times our prayers aren't just sort of perfunctory type of activities, you know. There is no real heart behind it. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." God said to Jeremiah, "And in the day that you seek Me with your whole heart, in that day I will be found of you."
And Jeremiah is saying, "Hey, go for it. Cry in the night, in the beginning of the watches, pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift up your hands toward Him. At least for the life of the young children that are fainting for hunger on every street."
Behold, O LORD, and consider to whom thou hast done this: Shall the women eat their fruit ( Lamentations 2:20 ),
That is, the women eat their own little babies, which they were doing.
shall children be born who are only a span long? ( Lamentations 2:20 )
The women were so malnourished that as their children were being born they were only seven or eight inches long at birth. Horrible.
shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord? The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword; thou hast slain them in the day of your anger; you have killed, and not pitied. You have called us in a solemn day my terrors round about me, so that in the day of the LORD'S anger none escaped nor remained: those that I have swaddled and brought up hath my enemy consumed ( Lamentations 2:20-22 ). "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Lamentations 2". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26