Lamentations 4 - Outline of Lamentations (Book Notes menu page)
The Lord's Judgment causes Reversals, ch. 4
Although this chapter rehearses the destruction of Jerusalem which was previously catalogued in ch. 1 and 2, it does so from the perspective of the lessons of ch. 3. The same LORD who has rightfully excercised judgment upon His people (3:1-3), is also their Hope and Salvation (3:21-26).
I. Contrast of Conditions: Before the Judgment Fell - versus - Under the Effects of Judgment, v.1-11
  1. The beautiful and privileged have become desolate. v.1-6
    • The Gold of the Temple... dim (v.1)-
      The formerly glorious center of worship has been stripped and ruined.
    • The sons of Zion (precious as gold)... are... as earthen vessels. (v.2)
      The young men lie broken and shattered by the sword (cp. Jer 19:11).
    • Mothers... (like foolish ostriches) cruelly forsake their hungry little children. (v.3,4)
    • The genteel and refined... having been brought down to nothing, lay claim to refuse heaps. (v.5)
    • The cause: Punishment for their sins (v.6).
      Their punishment was greater in terms of physical suffering, because God Himself swept Sodom away in a moment, but Judah has suffered abuse at the hands of her enemies for centuries. Their greater punishment was deserved because Israel willingly disobeyed, despite having the light of God's Word (eg., Rom 3:1,2; Mat 11:23,24). Yet, God's judgment of Judah was mingled with mercy (cp. Isa 1:9; Lam 3:22)
  2. The noble and pure have become pitiful. v.7-11
    • Her Nazirites {consecrated ones}, once well favoured... now emaciated beyond recognition (v.7-9).
      It would have been preferable to suffer a quick death by sword, than their slow death by starvation.
    • The pitiful {lit., compassionate} women have sodden {ie., boiled, cooked} their own children. (cp. Deu 28:56,57)
    • The Lord hath accomplished {HB=kalah, spent, used up} His fury...
      ...poured out His fierce anger (cp. Jer 7:20)...
      ...kindled a fire in Zion... devoured its foundations (cp. Deu 32:21,22; Jer 21:14; Lam 2:2,3)
II. Contrast of Confidences: Before the Judgment Fell - versus - Under the Effects of Judgment, v.12-20
  1. The city, which was thought to be secure, has been invaded, v.12.
    Over the years, Jerusalem's kings had strengthened its fortifications and secured an inexhaustible source of water (via Hezekiah's tunnel). But no defense could stand against this Adversary and Enemy (Lam 2:4,5). It was the LORD who allowed the amazed nations to breach her walls (Lam 2:17; Deu 32:27,30).
  2. The prophets and priests, who were dishonorable, have been dishonored (by the enemy), v.13-16
    • The false prophets and priests, being blind to God's truth (Isa 56:10,11; Eph 4:18),
      had murdered His true followers, and polluted the city with blood guiltiness.
         Because of their uncleanness (a moral and spiritual leprosy), they would no longer dwell in the LORD's land (cp. Jer 23:14-21; 26:8,9; Mat 23:33-37; 1The 2:15,16). Even the heathen knew the reason for their dispersion (Deu 29:24-28; Jer 22:7-9).
    • The Anger {HB= paniym, lit., face, presence, person} of the LORD has divided them {separated them to their fate, eg., Jer 52:24-27}.
      • He {the LORD} will no more regard {pay attention to; consider} them.
      • Therefore, "they" {their enemies, eg., the Babylonians} disrespect the persons {HB= paniym} of the priests and show no mercy to the elders.
      • Verse 16 is made to stand out emphatically by the reversal in order of the sixteenth and seventeeth characters of the alphabet. Like the previous chapters, this chapter is acrostic with each verse beginning with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet. [Note that the reversal of these same characters also occurs in Lam 2:16,17 and 3:46-48, 49-51, also with emphatic effect.]
  3. The gentile nations, who were our friends, have become our enemies (v.17-19):
    • our vain help (Egypt) could not deliver,
    • our feared hunter (Babylon) persecutes and pursues us to the end.
  4. The King (Zedekiah), who was our strength, has been overtaken in weakness (v.20):
    • as "the anointed of the LORD," the Davidic king was a symbol of God's power, and therefore, the life breath of the nation (cp. Psa 89:20-23).
    • but Zedekiah had been taken by the enemy (Jer 52:8-11).
III. Contrast of Conclusions: the future outcomes for Edom versus Judah, v.21,22
  1. Edom, temporarily rejoicing over the destruction of Jerusalem, would soon drink from the cup of judgment (v.21).
    The Lord will visit {punish, attend to} her iniquity {perversity}. The Lord will discover {reveal} her sins {guilt of sin, punishment for sin}, which could not be hidden {she is naked}. Edom had assisted in, and gloated over, Babylon's conquest of Jerusalem (Psa 137:7; Eze 25:12-14). There is no promise of restoration to Edom. Her destruction would be complete (Jer 49:9-10,17-18).
  2. Zion's present distress is temporary (v.22).
    Her 'punishment for iniquity' {HB= 'avon, iniquity, perversity} will be accomplished {HB= tamam, completed, finished} (cp. Isa 40:2). Note the dual significance of HB= 'avon. Not only will her 'punishment for iniquity' be completed, but also her 'perversity' will be purged (cp. Dan 9:24).
       In that day, He {the LORD} will 'no more' (cf. v.16) 'carry thee away into captivity' {uncover thee, remove thee}. cp. Jer 46:27,28; 50:20; Isa 60:18; Jer 32:40; Eze 37:27,28
       These promises, of Jerusalem's future peace and security, await the Kingdom of the Messiah.

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