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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Lamentations 4

Verse 1

Lam 4:1. The materials named in this verse have a somewhat figurative meaning. The passage denotes the loss by Jerusalem of her glory.

Verse 2

Lam 4:2. As clay is inferior to gold, so the sons of Zion (citizens of the capital city) had been demoted from the glory of free citizens to the state of captivity.

Verse 3

Lam 4:3. The state of destitution brought upon the Jews was so extreme that many of the natural emotions were quenched, and human mothers became colder toward their young than sea monsters were to theirs.

Verse 4

Lam 4:4, The famine is the subject being considered by the prophet. Having no nourishment due to the dry-breasts of their mothers, the tongues of the babes stuck to the roofs of their mouths. When the other children cried for bread it was not given to them. Instead, the women even consumed their helpless babes as food for themselves, (See chapter 2: 20 and comments for this subject.)

Verse 5

Lam 4:5. The fallen state of the people is still the subject of the prophet expressed in figurative terms. Some had been accustomed to living on dainties and were not exposed to the rough side of life, but now they were wandering in the streets and were stunned with undernourishment. Embrace dunghills is a symbolic description of the condition expressed in the forepart of this verse.

Verse 6

Lam 4:6. Punishment of iniquity is all from the Hebrew word AVON and has been translated by the one word "Iniquity” more than 200 times. It has been rendered also by "punishment” 6 times, and by our present phrase 4 times. It can thus be seen that the word might sometimes mean the results or consequences, likewise the retribution for the sin, as well as the sin itself. This verse means the punishment that Judah received for her sin was greater than was that put. upon Sodom, not necessarily that the sin was greater. And yet, the people had committed Idolatry for years, and that might be regarded as a more serious offence against God than sins of a moral nature such as that of Sodom. However, the Jews suffered national disgrace which reproached them for a century, while Sodom was destroyed in one day. Of the two instances of punishment that of the former might be considered the greater.

Verse 7

Lam 4:7. Nazarite is from a Hebrew word that Strong defines, “Separate; i.e. consecrated.” The word in its primary use meant a special kind of vow but came to be used of all persons consecrated to the service of God, and it has that meaning in this verse. It describes in strong adjectives the former purity and glory of these persons while they were faithfully serving the Lord. It continued so while their lives were pleasing to Him. and he bestowed upon them more luster than the finest of gems.

Verse 8

Lam 4:8. After these consecrated men corrupted themselves with their abominable idolatries, the Lord de prived them of their glory. The figures of speech in this verse are a description of their state which contrasted from what it was before.

Verse 9

Lam 4:9. The ceremonial glory was taken from thsee men, and also they were exposed to the sword of the en-emy. Of the two misfortunes, to perish with hunger was worse than to be slain outright with the sword.

Verse 10

Lam 4:10. See the comments at Lam 2:20 for this verse.

Verse 11

Lam 4:11. This verse is both prophecy and history. The city of Jerusalem (or Zion) was then in the hands of the Babylonians, and the people were about all in the foreign land. But they were doomed to stay there until they served out the sentence of the 70-year captivity; and all this was because of the Lord’s anger at their sins.

Verse 12

Lam 4:12. Jerusalem had been well known for centuries as the headquarters for a great nation. The histories of David and Solomon and their many important successors had raised the city to a high standing in the estimation of the world. In view of these facts the people of other countries were surprised to see the Jewish capital invaded and completely subdued as the Babylonians had done.

Verse 13

Lam 4:13. According t.o Jer 5:31; Jer 6:13-14 these public men were chiefly responsible for the sins of the nation. If these wicked men were op-posed by the righteous citizens they "won out.” against them by causing them to be slain.

Verse 14

Lam 4:14. The word for streets Is also rendered “abroad" in the common version. These corrupt men roved about with the guilt of blood upon them. (See Jeremiah 2; Jeremiah 34.) Could not touch their garments. The law of Moses (Numbers 19; Numbers 16) regarded one unclean who touched another person who had blood upon bim.

Verse 15

Lam 4:15. They refers to men in general who observed the uncleanness of these murderers and bade them de-part. When they were exiled among the heathen (the Babylonians) the remark was made by those learning of the situation that these Jews were no longer permitted to sojourn in their own land because of their uncleanness.

Verse 16

Lam 4:16. The men of the world (they of the preceding verse) are still talking and accounting for the dispersion of these wicked priests and prophets. They understood that the Lord’s anger had caused it as a punishment. They now means these evil priests who disrespected the ones who were still righteous. (See 2Ch 24:18-21.)

Verse 17

Lam 4:17. The people of Judah are the ones talking now as if they were reminding themselves of some of their past mistakes. Watched for a nation that could not sai’e us. While Judah was threatened by the presence of the Babylonians the Jews looked for help from Egypt (2Ki 24:7; Isa 30:7; Jer 37:5-11); but the Egyptians could not save Judah from the captivity.

Verse 18

Lam 4:18. They means the Babylo-nians, and the people of Judah are still speaking. The presence of the invaders makes it difficult for the local citizens to be upon their own streets. End is near. The 70-year captivity began in the early days of the reign ot Jehoiaklm and the entire subjugation was accomplished in the 11th year of Zedekiah. (2Ki 24:1; 2Ki 25:2-7.) In course of this period Jere-miah did moat of his writing, which explains why so much of it seems to be history and prophecy mixed.

Verse 19

Lam 4:19. This verse is a complaint of Judah about the treatment which they were receiving from their captors. They represent the attack as being so swift and general that there was no way of eseape.

Verse 20

Lam 4:20. Bits means the pitfalls or snares the Babylonians used to capture the people of Judah whom they named the anointed Of the Lord. Breath . . , taken denotes that the enemy was taking the breath of life from tbe unfortunate Jews.

Verse 21

Lam 4:21. The reader has been fre-quently reminded that God would not tolerate the attitude of the nations who rejoiced at the misfortunes of His people. This verse describes such an evil attitude on the part of the Edomites w-ho had long been enemies of Israel. Edom is ironically told to do her rejoicing against the unfortunate nation while she bad the opportunity. The cup (of affliction) was finally to come upon this nation as an expression of God's vengeance. Drunken and naked are terms borrowed from the literal results that, often come from too much use of the cup of wine. It is applied to the staggering and shameful condition that was to come upon Edom.

Verse 22

Lam 4:22. In this one verse the prophet predicts the punishment of Edom and also the restoration Of Israel. See verse 6 on punishment of thine iniquity.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Lamentations 4". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/lamentations-4.html. 1952.