August 25, Lamentations 3-5

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I am the man who has seen affliction
under the rod of God’s wrath.
He has driven me away and forced me to walk
in darkness instead of light.
Yes, he repeatedly turns his hand
against me all day long.

ב Beth

He has worn away my flesh and skin;
he has broken my bones.
He has laid siege against me,
encircling me with bitterness and hardship.
He has made me dwell in darkness
like those who have been dead for ages.

ג Gimel

He has walled me in so I cannot get out;
he has weighed me down with chains.
Even when I cry out and plead for help,
he blocks out my prayer.
He has walled in my ways with blocks of stone;
he has made my paths crooked.

ד Daleth

10 He is[a] a bear waiting in ambush,
a lion in hiding.
11 He forced me off my way and tore me to pieces;
he left me desolate.
12 He strung his bow
and set me as the target for his arrow.

ה He

13 He pierced my kidneys
with shafts from his quiver.
14 I am a laughingstock to all my people,[b]
mocked by their songs all day long.
15 He filled me with bitterness,
satiated me with wormwood.

ו Waw

16 He ground my teeth with gravel
and made me cower[c] in the dust.
17 I have been deprived[d] of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 Then I thought, “My future[e] is lost,
as well as my hope from the Lord.”

ז Zayin

19 Remember[f] my affliction and my homelessness,
the wormwood and the poison.
20 I continually remember them
and have become depressed.[g]
21 Yet I call this to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

ח Cheth

22 Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,[h]
for his mercies never end.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness!
24 I say, “The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in him.”

ט Teth

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the person who seeks him.
26 It is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the Lord.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is still young.

י Yod

28 Let him sit alone and be silent,
for God has disciplined[i] him.
29 Let him put his mouth in the dust—
perhaps there is still hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek
to the one who would strike him;
let him be filled with disgrace.

כ Kaph

31 For the Lord
will not reject us forever.
32 Even if he causes suffering,
he will show compassion
according to the abundance of his faithful love.
33 For he does not enjoy bringing affliction
or suffering on mankind.

ל Lamed

34 Crushing all the prisoners of the land[j]
beneath one’s feet,
35 denying justice to a man
in the presence of the Most High,
36 or subverting a person in his lawsuit—
the Lord does not approve of these things.

מ Mem

37 Who is there who speaks and it happens,
unless the Lord has ordained it?
38 Do not both adversity and good
come from the mouth of the Most High?
39 Why should any living person complain,
any man, because of the punishment for his sins?

נ Nun

40 Let’s examine and probe our ways,
and turn back to the Lord.
41 Let’s lift up our hearts and our hands
to God in heaven:
42 “We have sinned and rebelled;
you have not forgiven.

ס Samek

43 “You have covered yourself in anger and pursued us;
you have killed without compassion.
44 You have covered yourself with a cloud
so that no prayer can get through.
45 You have made us disgusting filth
among the peoples.

פ Pe

46 “All our enemies
open their mouths against us.
47 We have experienced panic and pitfall,
devastation and destruction.”
48 My eyes flow with streams of tears
because of the destruction of my dear people.

ע Ayin

49 My eyes overflow unceasingly,
without end,
50 until the Lord looks down
from heaven and sees.
51 My eyes bring me grief
because of the fate of all the women in my city.

צ Tsade

52 For no reason, my enemies[k]
hunted me like a bird.
53 They smothered my life in[l] a pit
and threw stones on me.
54 Water flooded over my head,
and I thought, “I’m going to die!”

ק Qoph

55 I called on your name, Lord,
from the depths of the pit.
56 You heard my plea:
Do not ignore my cry for relief.
57 You came near whenever I called you;
you said, “Do not be afraid.”

ר Resh

58 You championed my cause, Lord;
you redeemed my life.
59 Lord, you saw the wrong done to me;
judge my case.
60 You saw all their vengefulness,
all their plots against me.

שׂ Sin / שׁ Shin

61 Lord, you heard their insults,
all their plots against me.
62 The slander[m] and murmuring of my opponents
attack me all day long.
63 When they sit and when they rise, look,
I am mocked by their songs.

ת Taw

64 You will pay them back what they deserve, Lord,
according to the work of their hands.
65 You will give them a heart filled with anguish.[n]
May your curse be on them!
66 You will pursue them in anger and destroy them
under your heavens.[o]

Terrors of the Besieged City

א Aleph

How the gold has become tarnished,
the fine gold become dull!
The stones of the temple[p] lie scattered
at the head of every street.

ב Beth

Zion’s precious children—
once worth their weight in pure gold—
how they are regarded as clay jars,
the work of a potter’s hands!

ג Gimel

Even jackals offer their breasts
to nurse their young,
but my dear people have become cruel
like ostriches in the wilderness.

ד Daleth

The nursing baby’s tongue
clings to the roof of his mouth from thirst.
Infants beg for food,
but no one gives them any.

ה He

Those who used to eat delicacies
are destitute in the streets;
those who were reared in purple garments
huddle in trash heaps.

ו Waw

The punishment of my dear people
is greater than that of Sodom,
which was overthrown in an instant
without a hand laid on it.

ז Zayin

Her dignitaries were brighter than snow,
whiter than milk;
their bodies[q] were more ruddy than coral,
their appearance like lapis lazuli.

ח Cheth

Now they appear darker than soot;
they are not recognized in the streets.
Their skin has shriveled on their bones;
it has become dry like wood.

ט Teth

Those slain by the sword are better off
than those slain by hunger,
who waste away, pierced with pain
because the fields lack produce.

י Yod

10 The hands of compassionate women
have cooked their own children;
they became their food
during the destruction of my dear people.

כ Kaph

11 The Lord has exhausted his wrath,
poured out his burning anger;
he has ignited a fire in Zion,
and it has consumed her foundations.

ל Lamed

12 The kings of the earth
and all the world’s inhabitants did not believe
that an enemy or adversary
could enter Jerusalem’s gates.

מ Mem

13 Yet it happened because of the sins of her prophets
and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed the blood of the righteous within her.

נ Nun

14 Blind, they stumbled in the streets,
defiled by this blood,
so that no one dared
to touch their garments.

ס Samek

15 “Stay away! Unclean!” people shouted at them.
“Away, away! Don’t touch us!”
So they wandered aimlessly.
It was said among the nations,
“They can stay here no longer.”

פ Pe

16 The Lord himself has scattered them;
he no longer watches over them.
The priests are not respected;
the elders find no favor.

ע Ayin

17 All the while our eyes were failing
as we looked in vain for help;
we watched from our towers
for a nation that would not save us.

צ Tsade

18 Our steps were closely followed
so that we could not walk in our streets.
Our end approached; our time ran out.
Our end had come!

ק Qoph

19 Those who chased us were swifter
than eagles in the sky;
they relentlessly pursued us over the mountains
and ambushed us in the wilderness.

ר Resh

20 The Lord’s anointed, the breath of our life,[r]
was captured in their traps.
We had said about him,
“We will live under his protection among the nations.”

שׂ Sin

21 So rejoice and be glad, Daughter Edom,
you resident of the land of Uz!
Yet the cup will pass to you as well;
you will get drunk and expose yourself.

ת Taw

22 Daughter Zion, your punishment is complete;
he will not lengthen your exile.[s]
But he will punish your iniquity, Daughter Edom,
and will expose your sins.

Prayer for Restoration

Lord, remember what has happened to us.
Look, and see our disgrace!
Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,
our houses to foreigners.
We have become orphans, fatherless;
our mothers are widows.
We must pay for the water we drink;
our wood comes at a price.
We are closely pursued;
we are tired, and no one offers us rest.
We made a treaty with[t] Egypt
and with Assyria, to get enough food.
Our ancestors sinned; they no longer exist,
but we bear their punishment.
Slaves rule over us;
no one rescues us from them.
We secure our food at the risk of our lives
because of the sword in the wilderness.
10 Our skin is as hot[u] as an oven
from the ravages of hunger.
11 Women have been raped in Zion,
virgins in the cities of Judah.
12 Princes have been hung up by their hands;
elders are shown no respect.
13 Young men labor at millstones;
boys stumble under loads of wood.
14 The elders have left the city gate,
the young men, their music.
15 Joy has left our hearts;
our dancing has turned to mourning.
16 The crown has fallen from our head.
Woe to us, for we have sinned.
17 Because of this, our heart is sick;
because of these, our eyes grow dim:
18 because of Mount Zion, which lies desolate
and has jackals prowling in it.
19 You, Lord, are enthroned forever;
your throne endures from generation to generation.
20 Why do you continually forget us,
abandon us for our entire lives?
21 Lord, bring us back to yourself, so we may return;
renew our days as in former times,
22 unless you have completely rejected us
and are intensely angry with us.

Look at the intensity of the prayer in chapter 5. Jeremiah is acknowledging God’s greatness, but at the same time pleading for restoration. He asks God to bring the Israelites back. Here is the truth for today…when God’s people turn their back on him there will be consequences. But here is another truth…God will always take his people back. He longs for his people to have an intimate relationship with him. If you need restoration in your relationship with God, plead with him to bring you back into right standing with him.

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