Lamentations 2

 

 

 

       ZION’S JUDGMENT IS OF GOD.

LAMENTATIONS ANDSUPPLICATIONS

 

 

1  How hath the LORD covered” -  rather doth cover - “the daughter of Zion”

i.e. Jerusalem - with a cloud in His anger, and cast down from heaven” - Here

and in Matthew 11:23 we have a parallel to Isaiah 14:12, where the King of

Babylon is compared to a bright star. “Cast down” whither? Into the“pit or

dungeon of Hades (Ibid. v.15) - “unto the earth the beauty of Israel,” –

Jerusalem, exactly as Babylon is called “the proud beauty [or,  ‘ornament’]

of Chaldea” (Ibid. ch.13:19).  and remembered not His footstool”

 i.e. the ark (Psalm 132:7), or perhaps the temple as containing the ark

(I Chronicles 28:2; Psalm 99:5) - “in the day of His anger!”

 

2  The LORD hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob, and

hath not pitied: He hath thrown down in His wrath the strong holds

of the daughter of Judah; He hath brought them down to the

ground: He hath polluted the kingdom and the princes thereof.”

Habitations; rather, pastures; The word properly means the settlements of

shepherds in green, grassy spots, but here designates the country parts in

general, distinguished from the “strong holds” of Judah.  Hath polluted.

So Psalm 89:39, “Thou hast profaned [same word as here] his crown

[by casting it] to the ground.” The wearer of a crown was regarded in

the East as nearer to divinity than ordinary mortals; in some countries,

indeed, e.g. in Egypt, almost as an incarnation of the deity. To discrown

him was to “pollute” or “profane” him.

 

3  He hath cut off in His fierce anger all the horn of Israel: He hath

drawn back His right hand from before the enemy, and He burned

against Jacob like a flaming fire, which devoureth round about.”

All the horn; rather, every horn; i.e. all the means of defense, especially the

fortresses. He hath drawn back His right hand; i.e. He hath withdrawn His

assistance in war. He burned against; rather, he burned up.

 

4  He hath bent his bow like an enemy: He stood with His right hand

as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the

tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: He poured out His fury like fire.”

And slew all that were pleasant, etc. The correct rendering is, And slew all

that was pleasant to the eye: in the tent of the daughter of Zion He poured

out His fury like fire. The Authorized Version (following

the Targum) seems to have thought that the youth of the population alone

was intended. By “tent” we should probably understand “dwelling,” as

Jeremiah 4:5, and often; Isaiah 16:5, “the tent of David;” Psalm 78:67,

the tent of Joseph.”

 

5  The LORD was as an enemy: He hath swallowed up Israel, He hath

swallowed up all her palaces: He hath destroyed His strong holds,

and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and

lamentation.”  Was as an enemy: He hath swallowed, etc. The threefold

division of the verse is, unfortunately, concealed in the Authorized

Version, owing to the arbitrary stopping. The grouping suggested by the

Massoretic text is:

 

“The Lord is become an enemy, He hath swallowed up Israel;

He hath swallowed up all her palaces, He hath destroyed all His strongholds;

And hath increased in the daughter of Judah moaning and bemoaning.”

 

The change of gender in the second line is easily explicable. In the first case

the poet is thinking of the city; in the second, of the people of Israel. The

rendering “moaning and bemoaning” is designed to reproduce, to some

extent, the Hebrew phrase, in which two words, derived from the same

root, and almost exactly the same, are placed side by side, to give a more

intense expression to the idea.

 

 

The Lord as an Enemy (vs. 4-5)

 

not suppose the relations of God to those who forsake Him to be purely

negative. He cannot simply leave them to their own devices. He is a

King who must needs maintain order and restrain and punish rebellion,

a Judge who cannot permit law to be trampled underfoot with impunity,

a Father who cannot abandon His children, but must chastise them in

their wrong doing just because He is so closely related to them. Let it

be well understood, then, that, in opposing ourselves to God, we run

counter to a power, a will, an active authority. We provoke the anger

of God. We do not simply strike ourselves against the stone, we cause

the stone to fall upon us and grind us to powder. (Matthew 21:44)

 

TO BECOME TO US AS AN ENEMY. The very thought of God as an

enemy should strike terror into one who finds it is a fact.

 

Ø      God is Almighty. It is at once apparent that the war must end

in defeat for the rebel.

 

Ø      God is just. Then He must be in the right with the great

controversy. We must be fighting on the wrong side when we are

fighting against God.

 

Ø      God is gracious. How fearful must be the wrong doing that

provokes so kind a God to enmity!

 

Ø      God is our Father. Our Father become as our enemy! The

unnatural situation proclaims its own horror. The nearness of

God and His love to us make the fire of His wrath the more

fierce. The wrath of the “Lamb” (Revelation 6:12-17) is more

awful than the raging of him who goes about as a roaring lion

seeking whom he may devour.  (I Peter 5:8)

 

HAVE PROVED OURSELVES TO BE ENEMIES TO HIM. He has

no wish to quarrel with us. He is changeless in His constancy of

righteousness and love (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).  It is we who break

the peace. The declaration of war between heaven and earth is always

issued by the lower world. It is not necessary, however, that our enmity

should be overt in order that God may be seen as an enemy. Secret

alienation of heart, quiet neglect of God’s will, self-willed

indifference to God, will constitute ENMITY.  The fact that the

enmity begins on our side will take away all excuse suggested by our

feebleness in comparison with the greatness of God.

 

WILL NOT REALLY BE AN ENEMY. He may act like an enemy,

but He will not act in enmity. He will never hate the creature that He has

made. His apparent enmity is very fearful because it results in actions of

anger and punishment. Still behind all is the pitying heart of Divine love.

(“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that

Fear Him.”  Psalm 103:13)  God pities most when he strikes hardest.

 

BE TO US AS AN ENEMY. Christ is our Propitiation (Romans 3:24-26).

By the sacrifice of Himself He makes peace. And He does not simply

influence our hearts in reconciling us to God. There is a God-ward aspect

of the atonement (II Corinthians 5:19).  This is not to induce God to love

us, since the love of God precedes and originates the very mission of

Christ (Romans 5:8).  But in the mysterious counsels of Divine wisdom

the atonement of Christ is rendered necessary for the cessation of God’s

inimical action (I John 2:1-2).

 

6  And He hath violently taken away His tabernacle, as if it were of a

garden: He hath destroyed His places of the assembly: the LORD

hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion,

and hath despised in the indignation of His anger the king and the

priest.”  Violently taken away; rather, violently treated; i.e. broken up.

His tabarnacle; rather, His booth. “Tent” and “dwelling” are

interchangeable expressions (see v. 4); and in the Psalms “booth” is used

as a special poetic synonym for tent when God’s earthly dwelling place, the

sanctuary of the temple, is spoken of (so Psalm 27:5; 31:20; 76:2).

The Authorized Version, indeed, presumes an allusion to the proper

meaning of the Hebrew word, as if the poet compared the sanctuary of

Jehovah to a pleasure booth in a garden. It is, however, more natural to

continue, as a garden, the sense of which will be clear from Psalm 80:12-13.

The Septuagint has, instead, “as a vine” — a reading which differs from

the Massoretic by having one letter more (kaggefen instead of kaggan). This

ancient reading harmonizes well with Isaiah 5:1, etc.; Jeremiah 2:21 (compare

Psalm 80:8); but the received text gives a very good sense. “Garden” in the

Bible means, of course, a plantation of trees rather than a flower garden. His

places of the assembly; rather, his place of meeting (with God). The word occurs

in the same sense in Psalm 74:3. It is the temple which is meant, and the term

is borrowed from the famous phrase, ohel mo’edh (Exodus 27:21; 25:22).

 

7  The LORD hath cast off His altar, He hath abhorred His sanctuary,

He hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces;

they have made a noise in the house of the LORD, as in the day of a solemn

feast.”  Her palaces; i.e. those of the daughter of Zion, especially “high

buildings’’ (this is the true meaning of ‘armon) of the temple. They have

made a noise, etc. Compare Psalm 74:4, Thine enemies roar in the

midst of thy place of meeting.” The passages are parallel, though, whether

the calamities referred to are the same in both, cannot a priori be

determined. The shouts of triumph of the foe are likened to the festal

shouts of the temple worshippers (compare Isaiah 30:29; Amos 5:23).

 

 

The Rejected Altar (vs. 6-7)

 

In the first elegy we read how the feasts are neglected by the people (ch. 1:4).

Now we see that God Himself has broken them up and cast off His altar.

We must bear in mind that the altar belongs to God and that all the ordinances

of worship are His.  (His desire is to be worshipped in spirit because He is a

Spirit.  “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness

of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that

is in the water under the earth:” (Exodus 20:4);  “God is a Spirit:  and they

that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth”  (John 4:24).

 

 

Ø      Because the worship is insincere.

Ø      Because the worshipper is corrupt. “If I regard iniquity in my

heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18).

Ø      Because the offering is unworthy. The Israelite was to bring

his best to God. No blemished sacrifice would be accepted.

(There is no blemish in God’s gift for the world’s sin, Jesus

Christ, His Only Begotten!)  He will have our brightest hours,

our richest devotion, our hearts and lives and all, or He will

take nothing.

 

8  The LORD hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of

Zion: He hath stretched out a line, He hath not withdrawn His hand

from destroying: therefore He made the rampart and the wall to

lament; they languished together.”  He hath stretched out a line. It is the

line of desolation” mentioned in Isaiah (34:11; compare Amos 7:7; II Kings

21:13). Such is the unsparing rigor of Jehovah’s judgments.

 

9  Her gates are sunk into the ground; He hath destroyed and broken

her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law

is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the LORD.”

Are sunk into the ground; i.e. are broken down and buried in the dust.

The Law is no more. The observance of the Law being rendered impossible by

the destruction of the temple. Compare this and the next clause with Ezekiel 7:26.

 

 

No Vision from the Lord (v. 9)

 

CONSTITUTE AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT IN RELIGIOUS

LIFE.  The writer laments the loss of teaching and vision as abnormal

and disastrous. The vision of the prophets was not simply nor chiefly

concerned with the distant future and recondite counsels of providence.

It dealt with present facts and unveiled their true character. It guided

in the present; and with regard to the uncertainties of the very near future.

The humbler office of teaching was associated with it. The prophet, a seer

 of visions in private and on special occasions, was a teacher among his

fellow men under ordinary circumstances. It is important to see how

essential the knowledge of truth is to a healthy spiritual life (and by

default, TO A NATION LIKE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

CY – 2011). Without it devotion becomes superstition. Religion is based

on REVELATION!   The school precedes the workshop. Teaching must

prepare the way for service.

 

The two may not fail exactly at the same time. But the stream will not flow

long after the fountain is dried. The teaching that is continued after all

inspiration has died out will be arid, formal, lifeless, unreal. Ideas will take

place of facts, and words of ideas.  (I call it philosophy and pseudo-

science – promoted by liberal colleges and universities throughout our

land, colleges and universities that once were THEOLOGICAL

SEMINARIES - CY – 2011) Now, the vision, which is the starting

point of all knowledge of truth, is intermittent. There have been ages fertile

in prophecy and there have been barren ages. In the days preceding the

ministry of Samuel “the Word of the Lord was rare, and there was no

vision scattered abroad” (I Samuel 3:1). After the roll of the Old

Testament was complete, prophecy ceased. It revived in the apostolic age.

Spiritual insight and Divine knowledge have been intermittent since then,

sleeping in the dark ages, flashing out in the days of St. Bernard, dried up

by the dreariness of scholasticism, swelling out in fresh energy with the

Reformation, withering again at the end of the seventeenth century and

THE ENLIGHTENMENT, brightening once more from the close of the

eighteenth century.  (Spawning such institutions as Yale, Harvard,

Princeton, Dartmouth, William and Mary, etc. - What a difference a

couple of centuries make! – While I am on this America kick,

Proverbs 29:18 states “Where there is no vision the people perish.”

I am inserting Pulpit Commentary’s exposition of this passage below:

 

Where there is no vision, the people perish; rather, cast off

restraint, become ungovernable, cannot be reined in (Exodus 32:22,

25). “Vision” (chazon), prophecy in its widest sense, denotes the

Revelation of God’s will, made through agents, which directed the course

of events, and was intended to be coordinate with the supreme secular

authority. [This flies in the face of modern church-state separation

theorists – CY – 2011] – The prophets were the instructors of the people in

Divine things, standing witnesses of the truth and power of religion,

teaching a higher than mere human morality. The fatal effect of the

absence of such revelation of God’s will is stated to be CONFUSION,

DISORDER and REBELLION.   People, uncontrolled, fall into

grievous excesses, which nothing but high principles can restrain.

{As I write this at the close of another day, on this day, August 9, 2011,

 I have seen examples of the lack of restrain or vision,  take your pick,

of the United States of America!  I have heard clips of the President

saying that birth control and abortion will not be in the new health bill,

but today costumed proponents of PLANNED PARENTHOOD were

dancing in the streets because birth control and abortions take effect

today and the states will bear the brunt  - certainly, the talk of the

day has been the United States Fiscal Budget, with constant

reminders that there is “no restraint” associated with it!}  We note the

licence of Eli’s time, when there was no open vision (I Samuel 3:1); in

Asa’s days, when Israel had long been without a teaching priest

(II Chronicles 15:3); and when the impious Ahaz “made Judah naked”

(II Chronicles 28:19); or when the people were destroyed by reason of

lack of knowledge of Divine things and that people that did not

understand fell. (Hosea 4:6, 14). Thus the importance of

prophecy in regulating the life and religion of the people is fully

acknowledged by the writer, in whose time, doubtless, the prophetical

office was in full exercise: but this seems to be the only passage in the

book where such teaching is directly mentioned; the instructors and

preceptors elsewhere introduced as disseminating the principles of the

chochmah being parents, or tutors, or professors, not inspired prophets.

Perhaps homeschooling……..and don’t forget the clause in

the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, RELIGION, EDUCATION AND

MORALITY being necessary to GOOD GOVERNMENT  (notice,

not BIG GOVERNMENT)  and the happiness of mankind, schools

 and the means schools shall forever be encouraged….. I highly

recommend http://vftonline.org/EndTheWall/NWOrd.htm - CY – 2011).

 

 

TO THE CESSATION OF THEM. The prophets prophesied falsely

(v.14). They preached peace when there was no peace (Jeremiah 23:17).

As a penalty for their treason to their sacred trust of truth they lost the

gift of spiritual vision. Disloyalty to truth warps our perceptions of truth.

False living hinders true thinking. There is nothing which so deadens

and blinds the spiritual faculties as indifference to truth. Beginning with

telling a conscious lie, a man comes at last to accept falsehood without

knowing it.  (At the time of the anti-christ the above will be compounded

because God hath sent A STRONG DELUSION THAT THEY

SHOULD BELIEVE A LIE!” – II Thessalonians 2:7-12, especially v. 11

CY  - 2011)

 

ALSO LEADS TO THE CESSATION OF THEM. The people were

As guilty as their teachers. (my people love to have it so” – (Jeremiah

5:31) - They refused to hear truth and asked for pleasant words. They

declined to obey the truth which they had heard. The penalty

of disobedience to Divine truth will be the loss of that TRUTH!  If

we refuse to go as the vision of God in our souls directs, that vision

will fade out, leaving us no light of heaven, but only gloom or false

lights of earth.

 

10  The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, and keep

silence: they have cast up dust upon their heads; they have girded

themselves with sackcloth: the virgins of Jerusalem hang down

their heads to the ground.”  They have cast up dust, etc. A sign of mourning

(Joshua 7:6; II Samuel 13:19; Job 2:12).

 

11  Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is

poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people;

because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city.” 

My bowels are troubled (see on ch.1:20). My liver is poured upon the earth.

A violent emotion being supposed to occasion a copious  discharge of bile.

The daughter of my people. A poetic expression for Zion or Judah.

 

12  They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they

swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul

was poured out into their mothers’ bosom.”  Corn. Either in the sense

of parched corn (compare Leviticus 23:14; I Samuel 17:17; Proverbs 27:22)

or a poetic expression for “bread” (compare Exodus 16:4; Psalm 105:40)

 

13  What thing shall I take to witness for thee? what thing shall I liken

to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I

may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is

great like the sea: who can heal thee?”  What thing shall I take to witness

for thee? rather, What shall I testify unto thee? The nature, of the testifying

may be gathered from the following words. It would be a comfort to Zion

to know that her misfortune was not unparalleled.  The expression is odd,

compare – Isaiah 40:18 - Equal; i.e. compare (compare Isaiah 46:5)

 

14  Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they

have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but

have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment.”  Thy prophets.

Jeremiah constantly inveighs against the fallacious, immoral preaching of the

great mass of his prophetic contemporaries (compare Jeremiah 6:13-14; 14:13-15;

23:14-40). Have seen vain and foolish things; i.e. have announced “visions”

(prophecies) of an unreal and irrational tenor. Compare Jeremiah 23:13, where

the same word here paraphrased as “irrational” (literally, insipid) occurs.

Discovered; i.e. disclosed. To turn away thy captivity. The Captivity,

then, might have been “turned away,” if the other prophets had, like

Jeremiah, disclosed the true spiritual state of the people, and moved them

to repentance. (Of all the words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these,

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN!“The wicked shall be turned into hell

and all the nations that forget God.”  [Psalm 9:17] – CY – 2011)  False

burdens. Suggestive references to these false prophecies occur in Jeremiah

14:13-14; 23:31-32 (see the Exposition on these passages). Causes of

banishment.  So Jeremiah “They prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far

from your land.”  (Jeremiah 27:10,15),

 

 

The Vision of Falsehood and Folly (v. 14)

 

Visions from the Lord have ceased (v. 9). But the prophets continue to

see visions of earthly limitation or even of diabolical delusion. These

visions are false and foolish. Better have none than such.

 

FOOLISH IN PLACE OF THE TRUE AND WORTHY.

 

Ø      The mission of prophecy is to see and declare wisdom and reality.

The attractiveness of the teaching is a snare if the matter of it is

vain. People naturally favor the pleasant utterance of pleasant

things. Doctrines are sometimes chosen because they are liked

rather than because they are known to be sound.

 

Ø      The corruption of prophecy substitutes falsehood and folly for

truth and wisdom. This may be experienced unconsciously.

The teacher may not know that he has fallen. (a la – Samson –

Judges 16:20)  It is not only that his tongue utters lies, his eye

sees no truth. His vision is distorted and he knows it not.

He is not aware that he sees men as trees walking (Mark 8:24).

Nor does he know that his folly is not wisdom. The failing of

spiritual vision and decay of wisdom are the more calamitous

because they are unconscious. They are a sort of SPIRITUAL

INSANITY.

 

Ø      The evil of the corruption of prophecy is in the WIDESPREAD

DELUSION and DEGRADATION that it produces. “Thy

prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee.” When the

teacher errs the scholars are misled.  (Thus the fallout from

liberal and subversive professors at many major colleges and

universities - CY – 2011)

 

PROPHET’S VISION IS FALSE AND FOOLISH.

 

Ø      A prophet is required to see human as well as Divine truth. A

prophet should be a discerner of spirits. If he cannot read the

signs of the times he is a failure.

 

Ø      The failure to see iniquity is one especial evidence of perverted

prophetic vision. The physician is first of all called upon to

discover his patient’s disease. If he cannot detect this the rest

of his work is of little use.  As long as a prophet is blind to the

sins that men around them are perishing in, their primary mission

must fail. (I find it ironical that modern philosophes not only

condone, but promote sin – CY – 2011)  Divine inspiration is

needed to rightly see iniquity. Conventionality of thought leads

to a complacent satisfaction with the normal state of the world.

We must be out of it and above it to observe how it has fallen.

The preacher who cannot see the sins of his age is worse than

 useless. He is a deluding flatterer. The individual man who is

blind to his own sin has not the first ray of spiritual light which

may guide him aright.

 

NOT RESTORE PROSPERITY, BUT ON THE CONTRARY IT

DIRECTLY LEADS TO RUIN. By vainly promising pleasant things it

brings disastrous ones. The false prophets opposed Jeremiah and said

the Captivity would not come. By that very falsehood they helped to

hasten it.  (I contend that the undermining, in the last half century,

 of Judaeo-Christian values, by modern philosophic espousers are

bringing the end of earth [judgement of God],  at a much more rapid

pace than Global Warming could in a million years – CY – 2011) 

Had they taken the side of righteousness and warned of wrath, the doom

might have been averted. None prepare souls for ruin more certainly than

smooth speaking flattering optimists. (“Tolerance is a virtue of a man

without convictions” - G. K. Chesterton)  When danger is near, the

warning prophet may be the deliverer of his hearers.  (Ezekiel 33:1-11)

So long as men do not see their lost condition they are in danger of their

soul’s ruin. To them a pleasant religion is a fatal religion. A Jeremiah, a

John the Baptist, a John Knox, (a Charles Spurgeon, a Dwight Moody,

A Billy Graham,  and a Charles Stanley, are the best friends of their

generation.

 

15  All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their

head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men

call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth?” Clap... hiss…

wag their heads. Gestures of malicious joy (Job 27:23) or contempt (Jeremiah

19:8; Psalm 22:7). The perfection of beauty; literally, the perfect in beauty.

The same phrase is used in Ezekiel (27:3; 28:12) of Tyre, and a similar one in

Psalm 50:2 of Zion.

 

16  All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee: they hiss

and gnash the teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up: certainly

this is the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen it.”

Have opened their mouth against thee. As against the innocent sufferer of

Psalm 22:13). Gnash the teeth. In token of rage, as Psalm 35:16; 37:12.

We have seen it (compare Psalm 35:21).

 

17  The LORD hath done that which He had devised; He hath fulfilled

His word that He had commanded in the days of old: He hath thrown

down, and hath not pitied: and He hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over

thee, He hath set up the horn of thine adversaries.” His word that He had

commanded, etc. “Commanded,” i.e. given in charge to. Compare Zechariah 1:6,

“My words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets.”

Zechariah continues, in language which illustrates the foregoing words of this

verse, “Did they not take hold of [overtake] your fathers;” where the persons

spoken of as “your fathers” are the same as those who are represented by the

speaker of the elegy. “In the days of old;” alluding, perhaps, to such passages as

Deuteronomy 28:52, etc. The horn of thine adversaries. “Horn” has a twofold

meaning — “strength” or “defence” (compare v. 3), and “honour” or “dignity”

(compare I Samuel 2:1). The figure is too natural to need explanation.

 

18  Their heart cried unto the LORD, O wall of the daughter of Zion,

let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest;

let not the apple of thine eye cease.”  Their heart cried unto the Lord, etc.

“Their heart” can only mean “the heart of the people of Jerusalem.” For the

expression, compare Psalm 84:2, “My heart and my flesh cry aloud to the

living God.” Like a river; rather, like a torrent. Give thyself no rest. The word

rendered “rest” means properly the stiffness produced by cold.

 

 

19  Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out

thine heart like water before the face of the LORD: lift up thy hands toward

Him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of

every street.”  In the beginning of the watches. This would seem to be most

naturally explained as referring to the first watch of the night. When most

are wrapped in their first and sweetest sleep, the daughter of Zion is to

arise and cry.” Others explain, “at the beginning of each of the night

watches;” i.e. all the night through. Previously to the Roman times, the

Jews had divided the night into three watches.  Pour out thine heart like

water; i.e. give free course to thy complaint, shedding tears meanwhile.

The expression is parallel partly to phrases like“I am poured out like water”

(Psalm 22:14), partly to “Pour out your heart before Him” (Psalm 62:8 –

My favorite verse in the Bible on how to pray – CY - 2011). In the top of

every street; rather, at every street corner  (and so Lamentations 4:1).

 

 

A Cry to God in the Night Watches (v. 19)

 

A fearful picture! Jerusalem is besieged. Famine is becoming fatal. Young

children are seen fainting for hunger at the top of every street. The hearts

of their parents are rent with anguish, as the little ones beg piteously of

their mothers for food and drink (v. 12), and none can be had, so that

they swoon for very weakness. Suddenly a new turn is taken. The citizens

have sunk down in sullen despair. Night has come like a cloak to cover the

scenes of misery and death. Then a voice rings through the darkness,

“Arise, cry out.” This voice bids all hearers pour out their hearts in prayer

to God.

 

lamentations. The language has been that of hopeless grief and bitter

regret. No relief has been found or even sought. But there is ONE

REFUGE in the direst trouble, and now that refuge is remembered.

When we can do nothing else we can cry to God, for He is near and

merciful though striking in wrath, and able to save though no way of

escape seems possible. It needs some rousing of the soul thus to seek

God.  We must “Arise.” Spiritual lethargy is the worst consequence

of sorrow. (In 1997, I was sorely depressed – a psalm was written

by The New Beginnings Class of the First Methodist Church of

Hopkinsville, Kentucky, entitled A Psalm of Thanksgiving and

the contained the lines:

 

“When we find ourselves in the midst of trouble

                            we need You the most and

                         our gratitude is lost in our search for relief.”

 

 was an encouragement to me because it put some things in

perspective – CY – 2011)  Let us beware lest our troubles paralyze

our prayers. Prayer implies spiritual wakefulness.

 

 

Ø      The time when trouble seems most hopeless. It is in the night

that the mourner weeps his most bitter tears.

 

Ø      The time of reflection. In lonely night watches the troubled soul

has time for thought, and thought is then pain

 

Ø      The time of earthly darkness. Then, perhaps, the spirit may feel

most closely the nearness of the Father of spirits. The cry is to

be in the beginning of the watches — either at the first watch or

at the opening of each of the three watches. Let prayer come first.

Let us not waste time in lamenting before we seek relief from God.

 

heart like water before the face of the Lord.”  (Psalm 62:8)

 

Ø      It comes from the heart. All real prayer must be the outcome of

true and deep feelings.

 

Ø      It is a full and free confidence in God. The heart is poured out like

water. This is in itself A RELIEF!  God expects our complete

confidence and will hear prayer only when we give it to Him.

 

Ø      It is no more than the pouring out of the heart before God. There is

no definite request. Perhaps it is difficult to know how to ask for

relief.  (That is the wonder of the HOLY SPIRIT – He makes

intercession for us interpreting our groanings to the Father –

(Romans 8:26-27)  Perhaps the grief is too overwhelming for

any such thoughts of aid to be entertained. But it is enough

that the whole trouble is poured out before God and LEFT

WITH HIM!  . Prayer is too often a dictating to God. It should

be more of a simple confidence in God. It would be better if

 there were more confession and confidence, and less exact

petition and definition of what God is to do in order to please us.

We are to pour out our hearts and leave all with Him. Then He

will do the best for us.

 

Ø      In deep trouble heartfelt prayer is wrung out of the sufferer.

Then he must be real. Sorrow melts the stony heart which has

held itself in proud reserve, and thus it pours out itself like

water. We have the example of Christ, whose agony passed

into prayer, (He sweated “great drops of blood” for us in the

Garden of Gethsemane – Luke 22:44) to urge us to find the

relief of CONFIDING FULLY IN GOD!

 

20  Behold, O LORD, and consider to whom thou hast done this. Shall

the women eat their fruit, and children of a span long? shall the priest and

the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord?”  To whom thou hast done

 this; viz. to Israel, the chosen people. And children; rather, (even) children. The

children are the “fruit” referred to. Compare the warnings in Leviticus 26:26;

Deuteronomy 28:56; and especially Jeremiah 19:9; also the historical incident in

II Kings 6:28-29. Of a span long; rather, borne in the hands. The word is derived

from the verb renders to swaddle’’ in v. 22 (see note).

 

21 “The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins

and my young men are fallen by the sword; thou hast slain them in

the day of thine anger; thou hast killed, and not pitied.”

 

22 “Thou hast called as in a solemn day my terrors round about, so that

in the day of the LORD’s anger none escaped nor remained: those

that I have swaddled and brought up hath mine enemy consumed.”

Thou hast called as in a solemn day. The passage is illustrated by ch.1:15,

according to which the instruments of Jehovah’s vengeance are “summoned”

by Him to a festival when starting for the holy war. My terrors round about.

Almost identical with one of the characteristic phrases of Jeremiah’s prophecies,

fear [or rather, ‘terror’] on every side” (see on Jeremiah 6:25). Have swaddled;

rather, have borne upon the hands.

 

 

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