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Description of the Present Misery
v. 1. Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us, the evils which had befallen the Lord's congregation in the ruin of the entire nation; consider and behold our reproach, turning to their pitiable condition with merciful attention. The misery of Jerusalem and Judah, the home of the true Church, is now depicted.
v. 2. Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens, since the invading Chaldeans had taken possession of the entire land.
v. 3. We are orphans and fatherless, like those that have been deprived of their natural protectors; our mothers are as widows, this statement bringing out the fact that large numbers of men, the defenders of the city and country, had either fallen in battle or been led away into captivity.
v. 4. We have drunken our water for money, namely, that which was rightfully their own; our wood is sold unto us, they were obliged to buy the very necessaries of life from the conquerors or pay exorbitant taxes.
v. 5. Our necks are under persecution, their pursuers and tormentors being continually upon them, driving them headlong; we labor and have no rest, no matter how tired they were, rest was denied them.
v. 6. We have given the hand, stretching it out in humble supplication, to the Egyptians and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread, since the nation as such was reduced to absolute beggary.
v. 7. Our fathers have sinned and are not, and we have borne their iniquities, the generation of Jews at the time of the destruction of the city being obliged to bear not only its own guilt, but that of the previous generations as well, placing them under a double misfortune. God punished the iniquities of the fathers upon the children who followed their fathers on their ways of wickedness.
v. 8. Servants have ruled over us, many of the Chaldean overseers and petty officers actually being slaves; there is none that doth deliver us out of their hand, the former kingdom of priests having become a servant of servants.
v. 9. We gat our bread with the peril of our lives because of the sword of the wilderness, for the country, sparsely populated as it was after the deportation of the exiles, was open to the ravages of nomad hordes, whose raids were a constant menace.
v. 10. Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine, glowing with the heat of fever brought on by their condition.
v. 11. They, the invading armies and the raiding hordes, ravished the women in Zion and the maids in the cities of Judah, the usual accompaniment of barbarous warfare.
v. 12. Princes are hanged up by their hand, the disgrace of their slaughter thus being intensified by their suspension from the accursed tree; the faces of elders were not honored, the enemies showing no respect for dignity or age.
v. 13. They took the young men to grind, compelling them to perform the work of slaves, and the children fell under the wood, as they dragged the heavy mill-stones with which the grinding was done. The Jewish young men and boys were required to do the lowest and most menial services.
v. 14. The elders have ceased from the gate, no longer assembling at the customary place for deliberations and judgments, the young men from their music, for the joyful meetings were also held in the open space at the gates of the cities.
v. 15. The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning, all mirth and cheer being things of the past.
v. 16. The crown is fallen from our head, their former position of glory and honor and influence apparently being put from them forever. Woe unto us that we have sinned! The realization of sinfulness and the acknowledgment of guilt, as in a confession of this kind, is the first step toward true repentance.
Plea for the Renewal of Jehovah's Love
v. 17. For this, on account of the great afflictions, well deserved as they were, our heart is faint, with the bitterness of the soul's pain; for these things are our eyes dim, the sorrow of the heart finding its expression in tears.
v. 18. Because of the mountain of Zion, where the Temple had formerly stood, which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it, jackals making their dens in its ruins. In the midst of all this sorrow, however, the hearts of the believers turn to the true source of comfort and consolation.
v. 19. Thou, O Lord, remainest forever, sitting as the one true Monarch ruling the entire world; Thy throne from generation to generation, through all eternity.
v. 20. Wherefore dost Thou forget us forever and forsake us so long time? That Jehovah should be so inclined is beyond the conception of the inspired poet; he firmly believes that the Lord will yet remember His mercy.
v. 21. Turn Thou us unto Thee, O Lord, by a true conversion, which is the work of the Lord alone, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old, restoring them to their position as His children, as His Church, as in former times.
v. 22. But, or "Unless," Thou hast utterly rejected us; Thou art very wroth against us. It is hardly plausible that God's anger is so excessively great as to cause Him to shut out His repentant children forever. Thus the song of supplication, the prayer for mercy, ends with a statement of assurance, which hopes for a speedy fulfillment of its desire. Herein it is a model prayer for all times; for in the very midst of misery and affliction the believers are bound still to trust in the compassion of their heavenly Father.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Lamentations 5". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25