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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Lamentations 3

Verse 1

Lam 3:1. It will be well for us to keep in mind both the personal experiences of Jeremiah and those of his countrymen. The prophet suffered some unpleasantness that his people did not because he “took it to heart" more than did they. Had they been as serious over the situation as he there would have been more genuine regret on their part over the state of affairs. Another thing that will assist us is the fact that Jeremiah had to feel the sting of divine chastisement on account of being a member of the nation and not as punishment for any personal wrongs of his. Bod of his wrath means the wrath of God against the sins of the people of Judah.

Verse 2

Lam 3:2. Darkness and light are figurative and are used in the sense of sunshine and gloom with reference to the conditions surrounding the case.

Verse 3

Lam 3:3. Jeremiah feels the weight of God's hand as it is extended against the doers of iniquity in the nation, particularly the princes or leaders among them.

Verse 4

Lam 3:4. No physical violence is meant here for the prophet was not suffering in that manner. Even when he was cast into the mire he was not harmed in this way. But the distress of his people bore down on him so that it gave him the feeling that is suggested in the expression “old before his time,"

Verse 5

Lam 3:5. Budded against me means that God had reared up a wall of chastisement as to the nation in gen-eral. and surrounded the prophet with conditions like gall (bitterness), and travail which means weariness.

Verse 6

Lam 3:6, Dark places is said in the same figurative sense as darkness in verse 2, meaning the situation of gloom. This was true of Jeremiah personally and of the nation as a whole because of the official corruptions that had been practiced.

Verse 7

Lam 3:7. As to the prophet himself, there was no escape from the hedge of heaviness with which he was surrounded. The nation was literally taken captive and there was no way of escape. The chain was the shackle of anxiety which was so heavy and strong that resistance would be in vain.

Verse 8

Lam 3:8. Jeremiah had been told that his prayer on behalf of his countrymen would be In vain for they would not hear him (Jer 7:16).

Verse 9

Lam 3:9. Here is some more figurative language. Hewn stone indicates not only a strong substance for a barricade, but also Is dressed so as to form a still firmer wail. Every way he would try to go the victim would be met with this wall of obstruction, making him turn here and there to look for escape; that would cause his ways to be crooked or uncertain.

Verse 10

Lam 3:10, The helplessness of one who is attacked by a wild beast that was unseen is compared to that of Jeremiah personally and of Judah as a whole.

Verse 11

Lam 3:11. This verse is virtually the same in meaning as verse 9.

Verse 12

Lam 3:12. This verse may be under-stood literally and figuratively. The Babylonian army had attacked the city with material weapons which included the how and arrow, and that would constitute the application. The arrow has long been named as a symbol of persecution and other distress (Ueut. 32: 42; Job G: 4; Psa 38:2; Jer 9:8), hence the figurative sense is true here as it pertains to the prophet.

Verse 13

Lam 3:13. This is a repetition of the preceding verse in the sense of its main thought, A quiver is a case for holding arrows.

Verse 14

Lam 3:14. Yes, even as righteous a man as Jeremiah could not escape persecution from his own people. They falsified against him and even mistreated him by thrusting him into the mire (Jer 37:13-14; Jer 38:6). To be a derision means l.o be treated sneet'Ingly, and that was done to the prophet by his own countrymen as may be seen in the passages cited above.

Verse 15

Lam 3:15. Wormwood is an herb that has a bitter juice, and it is used in symbolic language to illustrate any bitter or unpleasant experience. The prophet regards himself as having to taste it through the chastisement which the Lord had brought upon the nation of which he was a member.

Verse 16

Lam 3:16. If a man were to attempt grinding gravel with his teeth he would get into serious trouble. The idea is used to compare the hard lot that Jeremiah and his people had been undergoing from the enemy. There was an old custom of using ashes literally in times of anxiety and distress. From this custom was brought the word into use figuratively under the like circumstances that called for the literal use.

Verse 17

Lam 3:17. Soul is from nephesh which Strong defines, “A breathing creature, i.e, animal or (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental).’' From this definition we understand the passage means that Jeremiah’s entire being was denied peace. Format means to be removed and prosperity means the good things of life generally; these had been removed from the prophet through his connection with the nation.

Verse 18

Lam 3:18. Perished from the Lord, recognizes the hand of God in all the distress of which the prophet is complaining. There is no criticism agaist the circumstance, for he elsewhere admits the justice of it because of the misconduct of the nation.

Verse 19

Lam 3:19. Wormwood is explained at verse 15; gall has the same meaning.

Verse 20

Lam 3:20, soul means the whole human being as in verse 17. The afflic-tions had humbled him which is used in the Bense of bearing him down with discouragement.

Verse 21

Lam 3:21. Recalling to his mind the purpose of these afflictions the prophet took hope in the outcome. He knew that God had brought them upon his countrymen for their own good, and that cheered him on to endure his own personal lot.

Verse 22

Lam 3:22. Had the nation been deatt with strictly as Its iniquities deserved it would have meant its complete destruction. But the compassion of the Lord saved the people as a whole from being consumed.

Verse 23

Lam 3:23. This means the evidences of God’s compassion appears anew every morning. Thy faithfulness denotes the Lord's constant attention to the welfare of Judah,

Verse 24

Lam 3:24. Soul is again used tor the whole man, and Jeremiah has hope that the Lord will supply his every need, both temporal and spiritual. Portion is from a Hebrew word that is defined "an allotment” in Strong's lexicon.

Verse 25

Lam 3:25. To wait for the Lord means to rely upon him and seek to do his will. Upon all such souls God will bestow that which is good.

Verse 26

Lam 3:26. To hope and quietly wait are logically connected. If a man is restless and impatient regarding a desired blessing it indicates that his hope is weak. This very truth is taught by Paul in Rom 8:24-25.

Verse 27

Lam 3:27. Yoke is figurative and is used with reference to the burdens of adversity. If a man has that experience while he is young and strong, it will prepare him for the future when he will need the benefit of strength that experience gives.

Verse 28

Lam 3:28, Sitteth alone and. keepeth silence means that when adversity comes he will not be overcome by it. Having accepted the yoke in his youth be is "prepared for the worst" or has himself "armed” for it in the sense of 1Pe 4:1,

Verse 29

Lam 3:29. This verse is one of the strongest kind of figures of speech. Dust refers to a condition of humility and distress, and putting the mouth in it means to "bite the dust” according to an old saying, yet stopping short of actual death. But the idea is that if a man learns the wholesome lessons the "hard way." be may have to right to hope for better times ahead.

Verse 30

Lam 3:30. The spirit of resignation to an unavoidable lot is the lesson here.

Verse 31

Lam 3:31-32. This paragraph is a prediction of the return from captivity. Having said so much along the line of hope for better things to come, the prophet considers it an appropriate time to make some direct reference to those things.

Verse 33

Lam 3:33. Not afflict willingly de-notes that God does not chastise his people just for the sake of causing them grief. The final good that might come from the afflictions is the sole object in view.

Verse 34

Lam 3:34. Many of the verses have a similar meaning which is to distinguish between different kinds of affliction. For instance, it is not God’s desire to crush all the prisoners which refers to those in the prison of the captivity.

Verse 35

Lam 3:35. It is not God's purpose to deprive his people of any of their "rights,” but only to punish them sufficiently to bring them to repentance.

Verse 36

Lam 3:36. Cause means a contest and subvert means to win the contest merely by force whether right or wrong. The Lord would not approve such an act on the part of man. so He would not do so against his people. It is true that the divine forces are infinitely greater than the human, hut God does not use such force merely because he can, but it is be- couse it is just and for the ultimate good of mankind.

Verse 37

Lam 3:37. The Jewish nation had many false prophets who threw the people into confusion very often. Those men were exposed by the failure of their predictions to be fulfilled. A noted example of such a character is described in Jeremiah 28.

Verse 38

Lam 3:38. Evil and good. The thought will be grasped if the con-junction is given the emphasis. God does not act inconsistently, so if his children deserve euil (meaning un-pleasant experiences) for purposes of chastisement, they are not given the good or pleasant, for that would en-courage them to go on in their evil course.

Verse 39

Lam 3:39. This verse is an indirect rebuke of any man who would murmur at the just punishment for his sins.

Verse 40

Lam 3:40. Instead of resenting the punishment, the wise thing to do is to find out what is wrong with us. Of course it will be expected that when we learn what it is. we will cease doing it and turn again to serve the Lord.

Verse 41

Lam 3:41. The point in this verse is that our prayers should be sincere. When we lift up our hands In prayer to God our hearts should be In it.

Verse 42

Lam 3:42. Thou hast not pardoned applies to the nation as a whole, and means that it must suffer the captivity until its end has been accomplished. See the note at 2Ki 22:17 in volume 2 of this Commentary.

Verse 43

Lam 3:43. Persecute is from a Hebrew word that means to pursue with hostile intent. The hostility might be Justified which it was in the case of the Lord pursuing his disobedient people. His anger was in the form of righteous indignation. Hast not pitied is used In the sense that God did not spare his corrupt nation when it became so bad as to need chastisement.

Verse 44

Lam 3:44. We are sure this is another figure of speech. The literal truth is that their prayer for escaping the captivity was not heard, and it. is represented by a cloud so dense that even sound could not penetrate it.

Verse 45

Lam 3:45. God has cast off his people as being unfit for His presence. They were turned over to the people which is from a word meaning nation; it. here refers to the Babylonian nation.

Verse 46

Lam 3:46. It has always been a matter of reproach for a nation to be subdued. The nation of Judah had been brought under by the heathen and the others opened their mouths or looked staringly at them as if in derision.

Verse 47

Lam 3:47. Under the circumstances of enforced exile it was natural that Judah would be affected with fear, and the nation would realize it was in a snare or trap. That left their cities and country at home suffering the results of desolating ruin.

Verse 48

Lam 3:48. This strong figure has been used previously by the prophet, and is an expression of the deep personal feeling he had concerning his people. (See Jeremiah 9; Jeremiah 1.)

Verse 49

Lam 3:49. Jeremiah wished for a fountain of tears to shed on behalf of his people. That not being granted him, his eyes trickled or constantly shed the water that was induced by his profound grief.

Verse 50

Lam 3:50. The prophet did not look for any relief from his grief until the Lord looked down. This evidently means to Look with pity and to remove the condition causing the tears. Such a time was to come after the nation was chastised enough.

Verse 51

Lam 3:51. Jeremiah was forced to weep so much that it was affecting his very heart or being. This was in sympathy for the citizens of Jerusalem.

Verse 52

Lam 3:52. Without cause means that the Babylonians did not have any personal reason for attacking Judah. They were only acting (unconsciously) as the agency of God for the punish-ment of Judah.

Verse 53

Lam 3:53. Jeremiah's personal sufferings would justify this language, for he had been cast into the mire. And it was also true of Judah in a more indirect sense, for the nation had its national life cut off by the captivity.

Verse 54

Lam 3:54. Waters of affliction is the meaning of this verse.

Verse 55

Lam 3:55. The prophet was personally cared for by the Lord because he was a righteous man. And the nation was also promised relief after suffering for a while.

Verse 56

Lam 3:56. This verse shows the answer to the prayer of the preceding verse.

Verse 57

Lam 3:57. God is not. slack in his care for liis own. When the righteous prophet appealed to Him he was heard promptly.

Verse 58

Lam 3:58. We should not forget the thought suggested frequently in the comments of this book of Jeremiah, that he writes in a way that much of his complaint and pleading may have a twofold bearing. It may apply to him personally, or It may mean the nation as a whole. Beginning with verse 55 and through the end of the chapter, the verses may appropriately form a bracket and he applied to the nation in captivity. In that view of the subject I suggest that the bracket be so marked and given the reference to the 137th Psalm.

Verse 59

Lam 3:59. This verse will give the reader a reason for the twofold application of these passages as a whole. The present verse could not apply to Jeremiah personally and hence refers to the nation. The people in Babylon will see their wrong and call upon the Lord to help them out of trouble.

Verse 60

Lam 3:60. The enemy took the wrong attitude toward the captives, and God was asked to consider it. The Baby-lonians had no national grievance against Judah and had no right to exercise any vengeance.

Verse 61

Lam 3:61. Even the reproaches that were uttered by the Babylonians were displeasing to God and he was determined to judge them for it.

Verse 62

Lam 3:62. This refers to the reproaches mentioned in the preceding verse.

Verse 63

Lam 3:63. Sitting down and rising up signifies the Babylonians took the situation lightly, and drew amusement from the pitiable state of Judah.

Verse 64

Lam 3:64, The Lord was always displeased when a heathen nation rejoiced over the misfortunes of His people. The Babylonians were serving a divine purpose by holding the Jews in captivity, but they were destined to feel the sting of God's vengeance.

Verse 65

Lam 3:65. This is a true picture of the attitude of the Jews with regard to the Babylonians. It is also a prediction of what God was going to do against them.

Verse 66

Lam 3:66. Persecute is from a Hebrew word that means to pursue with hostile intent. That is just what the Lord predicted he would do toward the Babylonians after they had served the end desired for the chastisement of the Jews.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Lamentations 3". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/lamentations-3.html. 1952.