Lamentations 4 - Outline of Lamentations (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 of salvation (3:21-26).
I. Contrast of Conditions: before and under Judgment, v.1-11
  1. The beautiful and privileged are 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)... earthen vessels (broken and shattered, cp. Jer 19:11). (v.2)
    • Mothers... (like foolish ostriches) cruelly forsake their hungry little children. (v.3,4)
    • The genteel and refined... are brought down to nothing, lay claim to refuse heaps (v.5)
    • The cause: Punishment for their sins (v.6). Their punishment was greater than Sodom's (cp. Mat 11:23,24) in that God Himself swept Sodom away in a moment, but Judah suffered abuse at the hands of her enemies for years. (Yet, His judgment of Judah was mingled with mercy. cp. Isa 1:9; Lam 3:22)
  2. The noble and pure are pitiful, v.7-11
    • Her Nazirites {consecrated ones}, once well favoured... now emaciated beyond recognition (v.7-9). It would seem 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 and under Judgment, v.12-20
  1. The city: considered impervious is 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 He who allowed the amazed nations to breach her walls (Lam 2:17; Deu 32:27,30).
  2. The (false) prophets and priests: impure and corrupt are displaced and disrespected (by the enemy), v.13-16
    • The prophets and priests, blind to God's truth, murdered His true followers, and polluted the city with blood guiltiness (cp. Jer 23:14-21; Eph 4:18; Jer 26:8,9; Mat 23:33-37; 1The 2:15,16), until even the heathen know the reason for her destruction (Deu 29:24-28; Jer 22:7-9).
    • The Anger {HB= paniym, lit. face, presence, person} of the LORD has divided them {plundered, assigned them their fate}. He will no more regard {pay attention to; consider} them.
           Therefore, "they" [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 (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), v.20:
    • as "the anointed of the LORD" was a symbol of God's power, and therefore, the life breath of the nation (Psa 89:20-23).
    • but Zedekiah had been taken by the enemy (Jer 39:5).
III. Contrast of Conclusions: the future outcomes for Edom versus Judah, v.21,22
  1. Edom, presently rejoicing over Israel's judgment, will also drink the cup of judgment (v.21).
    The Lord will visit {punish, attend to} her iniquity {perversity}. Having no cover for her sins (she is naked), the Lord will discover {reveal} her sins {guilt of sin, punishment for sin}. [Edom had assisted and gloated in 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 {perversity} will be accomplished {HB= tamam, completed, finished} (cp. Isa 40:2). 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

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