1 How[a] she sits alone,
the city once crowded with people!
She who was great among the nations
has become like a widow.
The princess among the provinces
has been put to forced labor.
2 She weeps bitterly during the night,
with tears on her cheeks.
There is no one to offer her comfort,
not one from all her lovers.[b]
All her friends have betrayed her;
they have become her enemies.
3 Judah has gone into exile
following[c] affliction and harsh slavery;
she lives among the nations
but finds no place to rest.
All her pursuers have overtaken her
in narrow places.
4 The roads to Zion mourn,
for no one comes to the appointed festivals.
All her gates are deserted;
her priests groan,
her young women grieve,
and she herself is bitter.
5 Her adversaries have become her masters;
her enemies are at ease,
for the Lord has made her suffer
because of her many transgressions.
Her children have gone away
as captives before the adversary.
6 All the splendor has vanished
from Daughter Zion.
Her leaders are like stags
that find no pasture;
they stumble away exhausted
before the hunter.
7 During the days of her affliction and homelessness
Jerusalem remembers all her precious belongings
that were hers in days of old.
When her people fell into the adversary’s hand,
she had no one to help.
The adversaries looked at her,
laughing over her downfall.
8 Jerusalem has sinned grievously;
therefore, she has become an object of scorn.[d]
All who honored her now despise her,
for they have seen her nakedness.
She herself groans and turns away.
9 Her uncleanness stains her skirts.
She never considered her end.
Her downfall was astonishing;
there was no one to comfort her.
Lord, look on my affliction,
for the enemy boasts.
10 The adversary has seized
all her precious belongings.
She has even seen the nations
enter her sanctuary—
those you had forbidden
to enter your assembly.
11 All her people groan
while they search for bread.
They have traded their precious belongings for food
in order to stay alive.
Lord, look and see
how I have become despised.
12 Is this nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look and see!
Is there any pain like mine,
which was dealt out to me,
which the Lord made me suffer
on the day of his burning anger?
13 He sent fire from on high into my bones;
he made it descend.[e]
He spread a net for my feet
and turned me back.
He made me desolate,
sick all day long.
14 My transgressions have been formed into a yoke,[f][g]
fastened together by his hand;
they have been placed on my neck,
and the Lord has broken my strength.
He has handed me over
to those I cannot withstand.
15 The Lord has rejected
all the mighty men within me.
He has summoned an army[h] against me
to crush my young warriors.
The Lord has trampled Virgin Daughter Judah
like grapes in a winepress.
16 I weep because of these things;
my eyes flow[i] with tears.
For there is no one nearby to comfort me,
no one to keep me alive.
My children are desolate
because the enemy has prevailed.
17 Zion stretches out her hands;
there is no one to comfort her.
The Lord has issued a decree against Jacob
that his neighbors should be his adversaries.
Jerusalem has become
something impure among them.
18 The Lord is just,
for I have rebelled against his command.
Listen, all you people;
look at my pain.
My young women and young men
have gone into captivity.
19 I called to my lovers,
but they betrayed me.
My priests and elders
perished in the city
while searching for food
to keep themselves alive.
20 Lord, see how I am in distress.
I am churning within;
my heart is broken,[j]
for I have been very rebellious.
Outside, the sword takes the children;
inside, there is death.
21 People have heard me groaning,
but there is no one to comfort me.
All my enemies have heard of my misfortune;
they are glad that you have caused it.
Bring on the day you have announced,
so that they may become like me.
22 Let all their wickedness come before you,
and deal with them
as you have dealt with me
because of all my transgressions.
For my groans are many,
and I am sick at heart.
Judgment on Jerusalem
2 How the Lord has overshadowed
Daughter Zion with his anger!
He has thrown down Israel’s glory
from heaven to earth.
He did not acknowledge his footstool
in the day of his anger.
2 Without compassion the Lord has swallowed up
all the dwellings of Jacob.
In his wrath he has demolished
the fortified cities of Daughter Judah.
He brought them to the ground
and defiled the kingdom and its leaders.
3 He has cut off every horn of Israel
in his burning anger
and withdrawn his right hand
in the presence of the enemy.
He has blazed against Jacob like a flaming fire
that consumes everything.
4 He has strung his bow like an enemy;
his right hand is positioned like an adversary.
He has killed everyone who was the delight to the eye,
pouring out his wrath like fire
on the tent of Daughter Zion.
5 The Lord is like an enemy;
he has swallowed up Israel.
He swallowed up all its palaces
and destroyed its fortified cities.
He has multiplied mourning and lamentation
within Daughter Judah.
6 He has wrecked his temple[k]
as if it were merely a shack in a field,[l]
destroying his place of meeting.
The Lord has abolished
appointed festivals and Sabbaths in Zion.
He has despised king and priest
in his fierce anger.
7 The Lord has rejected his altar,
repudiated his sanctuary;
he has handed the walls of her palaces
over to the enemy.
They have raised a shout in the house of the Lord
as on the day of an appointed festival.
8 The Lord determined to destroy
the wall of Daughter Zion.
He stretched out a measuring line
and did not restrain himself from destroying.
He made the ramparts and walls grieve;
together they waste away.
9 Zion’s gates have fallen to the ground;
he has destroyed and shattered the bars on her gates.
Her king and her leaders live among the nations,
instruction[m] is no more,
and even her prophets receive
no vision from the Lord.
10 The elders of Daughter Zion
sit on the ground in silence.
They have thrown dust on their heads
and put on sackcloth.
The young women of Jerusalem
have bowed their heads to the ground.
11 My eyes are worn out from weeping;
I am churning within.
My heart is poured out in grief[n]
because of the destruction of my dear people,
because infants and nursing babies faint
in the streets of the city.
12 They cry out to their mothers,
“Where is the grain and wine?”
as they faint like the wounded
in the streets of the city,
as their life pours out
in the arms of their mothers.
13 What can I say on your behalf?
What can I compare you to, Daughter Jerusalem?
What can I liken you to,
so that I may console you, Virgin Daughter Zion?
For your ruin is as vast as the sea.
Who can heal you?
14 Your prophets saw visions for you
that were empty and deceptive;[o]
they did not reveal your iniquity
and so restore your fortunes.
They saw pronouncements for you
that were empty and misleading.
15 All who pass by
scornfully clap their hands at you.
They hiss and shake their heads
at Daughter Jerusalem:
Is this the city that was called
the perfection of beauty,
the joy of the whole earth?
16 All your enemies
open their mouths against you.
They hiss and gnash their teeth,
saying, “We have swallowed her up.
This is the day we have waited for!
We have lived to see it.”
17 The Lord has done what he planned;
he has accomplished his decree,
which he ordained in days of old.
He has demolished without compassion,
letting the enemy gloat over you
and exalting the horn of your adversaries.
18 The hearts of the people cry out to the Lord.
Wall of Daughter Zion,
let your tears run down like a river
day and night.
Give yourself no relief
and your[p] eyes no rest.
19 Arise, cry out in the night
from the first watch of the night.
Pour out your heart like water
before the Lord’s presence.
Lift up your hands to him
for the lives of your children
who are fainting from hunger
at the head of every street.
20 Lord, look and consider
to whom you have done this.
Should women eat their own children,
the infants they have nurtured?[q]
Should priests and prophets
be killed in the Lord’s sanctuary?
21 Both young and old
are lying on the ground in the streets.
My young women and young men
have fallen by the sword.
You have killed them in the day of your anger,
slaughtering without compassion.
22 You summon those who terrorize me[r] on every side,
as if for an appointed festival day;
on the day of the Lord’s anger
no one escaped or survived.
My enemy has destroyed
those I nurtured[s] and reared.
As we read Lamentations, you will find the title of the book describes it succinctly. It is a book describing disaster and calamity, namely the fall and destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon. But in the middle of this calamity and uncertainty, as you read you will find hope. Hope that God is steadfast in his love and his faithfulness to his people. Maybe recently you have questioned God’s love for you. Maybe you have questioned his faithfulness. Know today, that even in the midst or tragedy and disaster, God is a God who loves you unconditionally and has not given up on or forgotten you.