The Word Made Fresh
1Remember what has happened to us, LORD.
Look how we have been disgraced.
2Strangers have taken over our inheritance.
Our homes have been given to foreigners.
3We are orphaned and fatherless;
our mothers are like widows.
4We must purchase the water we drink
and buy the wood we use.
5We are driven hard by those who are placed over us,
and we are weary but cannot rest.
6We have submitted to Egypt and Assyria
in order to get enough to eat.
7Our ancestors sinned. They have passed on,
and we must bear their shame.
8Slaves lord it over us,
and no one can remove us from their grip.
9We scrounge for food at our own peril
because swords surround us in the wilderness.
10Our skin is burned black as in an oven,
and we are bound to the terrible heat of famine.
11Women are raped in Zion,
and even virgins in the towns of Judah.
12The young men of our royal family are hung by their hands
and our elders are shown no respect.
13Young men are forced to work grinding grain,
and boys stagger carrying loads of wood.
14The old men have abandoned the city gate
and the young men no longer make music.
15There is no more joy in our hearts,
and though we once danced, now we only mourn.
16The crown has fallen from our head
and we have sinned. Woe to us!
17All of this suffering has sickened our hearts
and dimmed our eyes
18Jackals prowl over Mt Zion,
and now Mt. Zion lies desolate.
19But you, LORD, will reign forever.
Your throne will endure through all the generations.
20Why, LORD, have you completely forgotten us?
Why have you turned your back on us all this time?
21Take us back, LORD, and restore us to yourself!
Bring back the days of old.
22Or have you utterly rejected us?
Is your anger toward us beyond measuring?
1-18: The voice of the community continues, describing life in the occupied city. They have to pay for water to drink (so do we!), are consigned to hard labor and ordered about by “slaves,” probably a reference to the lowly social status of many of the occupying troops. Danger is in the streets, especially for women. Princes and elders are given no respect. The music has died. And it’s our own fault, they say.
19-22: Still, faith waits, for God’s sovereignty is eternal. But God has forgotten us, and for how long? Or will the unthinkable come to pass: will we be forgotten forever? And on that sad note Jeremiah’s lamentation ends.
Faith and obedience to God’s will are the strongest defenses we can have as a nation and as individuals in that nation.