Lamentations 5 - Outline of Lamentations (Book Notes menu page)
The Remnant's Prayer, ch. 5
Chapters 1, 2 and 3 each closed with brief prayers:
  • 1:20-22, A prayer for vengeance on the perpetrators of violence against Judah.
  • 2:20-22, A prayer of acknowledgment that the national bereavement is due to the LORD's anger.
  • 3:55-66, A prayer, to the One who judges righteously,
    • offering thanksgiving for personal redemption (v.55-58),
    • and requesting a fitting reward for those who have wronged His righteous servant (v.59-66).
Chapter 4 reviews the actions of the LORD in righteous judgment against His people.
Because of Judah's sins, He has exalted other nations over them, and turned their blessings into cursings. Yet, someday, He will reverse the situation: Jerusalem's enemies will be judged without remedy, the cause of Jerusalem's punishment will be removed, and the promises of her restoration will be fulfilled.
     In Chapter 4, Israel observes that all of these things are the LORD's doing... both their judgment and their restoration come from Him. Yet, the chapter closes without a prayer.
Ch. 5 may be regarded as the closing prayer for the previous chapter,
and as the response of the believing remnant to the LORD's work and Word concerning the nation. This chapter breaks the pattern of the previous four, in that it is not acrostic, and it is not set to the qinah {dirge} rhythm. Rather, it is a free form prayer.
I. Prayer for Remembrance, v.1-18
Remember {HB= zakar, recall to mind} (v.1)-
The first biblical occurrence of this word is of the Lord remembering those who were saved through judgment (Gen 8:1). It is frequently used of His faithfulness to keep His covenants (eg., Gen 9:15; Ex 2:24). Moses prayed that the Lord would remember His Covenant, as he pled for his rebellious people (Ex 32:13).
     Likewise, here, the prayer of Israel's believing Remnant rests upon the promises of God, which cannot fail.
     The Lord had clearly delineated how He would deal with the nation (in Leviticus ch.26, Deuteronomy ch.28, and other passages). He would bless them, if they walked in His ways (Lev 26:3-f). However, if they walked contrary to Him, He would punish them (Lev 26:21-f). If they persisted in walking contrary to Him, He would increase the punishments, until they were removed from the land (Lev 26:23-24,27-28). These promises of judgment, having been fulfilled, were the cause of Jeremiah's Lamentations.
     As surely as the Lord fulfilled His promises of judgment, He will be faithful to His promises to regather and restore the nation, when they turn to Him in repentance (eg., Lev 26:40-42; Deu 4:27-31; 30:1-6).
Consider, and behold our reproach -
The believing remnant calls the LORD's attention to the depth of their humiliation.
The thought is: 'We have been humbled. We accept our punishment as deserved (Lev 26:41).'
(The punishments, which You promised, have come upon us.)
  1. The general condition of the nation (v.2-10)-
    • our inheritance (ie., the Land) is turned {turned over} to strangers {foreigners}. Lev 26:32,33
    • we are orphans... fatherless... widows...-
      We are a people without rights, without means, and without security. Lev 26:36-38
    • our water... wood... is sold to us - cp. Lev 26:16,17,26
    • our necks... under persecution... labor... no rest - cp. Lev 26:19,20; Deu 28:48
    • we have given the hand to {ie., pledged ourselves to serve} Egypt and Assyria... for food.-
    • our fathers have sinned... we have borne their iniquities (cp. Lev 26:39b)-
      Here, the remnant is not blaming the previous generations for their plight (cp. v.16b), but acknowledging that the foolishness of their predecessors, in entering into ungodly alliances, has contributed to the fall of the nation.
    • servants rule over us. (Foreigners, who previously served us, now have the upper hand.)
    • we gathered our bread with peril... our skin was black... because of... famine. Lev 26:29-31
      Babylon's siege of Jerusalem had prevented the harvest of crops in fields beyond the city walls, and brought intense famine to those within. (Verses 2-10 recall the terrors of the siege. Verses 11-18 rehearse the terrors of the captivity, which followed the fall of the city.)
  2. The specific sufferings of groups within the nation (v.11-13)
    • The women and girls were raped (cp. Deu 28:30; Zech 14:2).
    • The princes were tortured and slain (eg. Jer 52:24-27).
    • The elders were dishonored (cp. Lam 4:16).
    • The young men were enslaved to do hard labor (cp. Judg 16:21).
    • The children {lit., young boys} were tasked beyond their strength.
  3. The overshadowing cloud of woe (v.14-18): producing a godly sorrow unto repentance (2Cor 7:10)
    • The elders no longer handle civil and legal matters (cp. Jer 39:3; Lam 2:10).
    • Music and song are silenced (cp. Jer 7:34).
    • The crown is fallen... (ie., our former glory has been cast away, cp. Lam 1:1; Psa 89:39).
      The Church should take heed (cp. Rev 2:10; 3:11).
    • Woe {HB= oy!} unto us, that we have sinned.-
      Here, the remnant confesses and repents of sin.
      Yet, they are powerless to reverse the damage and restore that which sin has lost.
    • Our heart is faint, our eyes are dim...-
      The heart of Jeremiah (which reflected that of the LORD) is now reflected in the remnant (cp. Lam 1:13; Jer 8:18). They, too, are blinded by their tears, for the effects of sin (cp. Lam 2:11; Psa 69:3)... their sin, for which the LORD justly took His Kingdom from them... their sin, which brought dishonor upon His Name and the place of His Name...
         ...because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate... cp. Jer 17:3; Mic 3:12
II. Prayer for Restoration, v.19-22
Having confessed their sin and owned their judgment, they appeal to the God of the Covenant for restoration (Lev 26:40-42).
Meanwhile, here is an application for our times, by Daniel Webster (as quoted by J.V.McGee):
If religious books are not circulated among the masses and the people do not turn to God, I do not know what is to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be. If God and His Word are not received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendency. If the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will. If the power of the Gospel is not felt through the length and the breadth of the land, anarchy, misrule, degradation, misery, corruption, and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.

This concludes the study in Lamentations.
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