The Word Made Fresh
1In anger the LORD has uncovered daughter Zion.
God has thrown Israel’s splendor from heaven down to earth,
and has forgotten that Israel was once the footstool of the LORD.
2Without mercy the LORD has destroyed all the homes of Jacob.
In anger God has broken the fortresses of the daughters of Judah,
and dishonored the kingdom and its leaders, leveled to the ground.
3God has erased the strength of Israel in anger,
has withdrawn from them in the enemy’s plain sight,
and has consumed all of Jacob like a terrible fire.
4Like an enemy God has attacked, bending the bow against Jacob,
destroying everything in which we took pride,
pouring fury like fire upon the daughter of Zion.
5The LORD has played the part of the enemy, destroying Israel,
destroying all its palaces and ruining its fortresses,
bringing mourning and lamentation for the daughter of Judah.
6The LORD has destroyed the holy dwelling and the place of meeting,
has done away with festivals and sabbaths in Zion,
and has turned away from king and priest in indignation.
7The LORD has rejected both altar and sanctuary,
and has delivered the great houses into the hand of the enemy.
A great noise arose in the LORD’s house as if it were a festival day.
8The LORD decided to ruin the wall of the daughter of Zion,
stretching the line, and not taking a hand away from the destruction.
Both barrier and wall fell and lamented in anguish together.
9Her gates have fallen to the ground and her bars are broken.
Her king and princes are scattered unsupported among the nations,
and her prophets receive no vision from the LORD.
10The leaders in Zion sit on the ground in silence.
They have covered their heads with dirt and have put on
The young girls of Jerusalem have bowed their heads to the ground.
11My eyes are exhausted from weeping and my stomach is churning.
I vomit on the ground, sickened over the destruction of my people.
Infants and little children faint in the streets of the city.
12They cry out to their mothers, “Where is bread and wine?”
They faint like wounded people in the city streets
and their lives are poured out on their mothers’ breasts.
13What can I say to you, Jerusalem? How can I describe you?
To what can I compare you so that I can offer comfort?
Your ruin is as widespread as the sea. Who can heal you?
14Your prophets have deceived you with false visions.
They have not pointed out your iniquity nor restored your fortunes,
but have given you false and misleading ideas.
15All who pass along the road clap their hands when they see you.
They shake their heads at Jerusalem. “Isn’t this the city,” they ask,
“known as the perfection of beauty and the joy of the whole world?”
16All your enemies say terrible things about you.
They grind their teeth at you and shout, “We have destroyed her.
This is the day we waited for, and now at last we have seen it!”
17The LORD has done what the LORD decided to do,
and, with no pity, has carried out the destruction threatened long ago.
God has exalted the enemy’s might and has allowed them to rejoice.
18The walls of the daughter of Zion cry out to the LORD.
Let your tears stream down like a flood day and night,
and give themselves no rest and your eyes no relief.
19Arise and cry out as the night watch begins.
Pour out your heart like pouring water before the LORD.
Lift your hands to God for your children who are faint from
20Look, LORD, and consider to whom you have done this.
Should women eat the children that they themselves have borne?
Should priests and prophets be put to death in the LORD’s sanctuary?
21Both young and old are lying on the ground in the streets.
My young women and men have been killed by the sword.
In your anger you have had them slaughtered without mercy.
22You welcomed my enemies from all around as if for a day of celebration.
And on the day of your anger no one escaped. No one survived.
Those I have borne and raised have been destroyed by my enemy.
1-9: The lament continues, cataloguing the destruction the LORD has wrought in Jacob (Judah and Israel): the dwellings, forts, armies, palaces, temple, the festivals, and even the Sabbaths, the altar, the sanctuary, the walls of the city, and the gates.
10-14: The prophet looks over the destruction, sees the despairing elders and distraught young girls in the street and weeps over Jerusalem. He hears the children crying out for food and drink. The devastation is so vast he does not know how to begin providing comfort for the people. They have been deceived by the false prophets who refused to tell them the truth about their broken relationship with God.
15-17: Now he sees the traveling merchants and others passing through stopping to gawk at the wreck that was Jerusalem. Many of them are simply stunned, but some, perhaps from neighboring tribes and peoples who have not had good relations with Judah, gloat over the destruction. But it is all God’s doing.
18-19: He tells the people to cry out to the LORD and beg for mercy for the sake of their children.
20-21: Look what you have done, LORD, he cries. Starving women have become cannibals. Priests and prophets are killed in the temple, perhaps as mock sacrifices. Innocent people are lying in the streets. Is this what God really wanted?
22: I imagine that the author intended these words as the voice of the city. God invited Jerusalem’s enemies to come to the “party,” and she has seen her children destroyed.
Dear God, help us escape the fate of Judah we are reading about. They were a nation who turned their backs on you and finally suffered the consequences told about in Lamentations, consequences which are awful almost beyond belief. We pray that our nation today will reach out to you and sincerely seek to do your will and abandon our efforts to elevate ourselves above others.