2 | Lamentation 2 dwells on the overwhelming shame of the residents of post-seige Jerusalem. You can hear the pain in the narrator’s voice as he describes the depths of depravity to which these people have sunk, they who were the chosen people of God, at one time the envy of the region. It’s humiliating.
When we consider the NT idea of the exalted being humbled and the humble being exalted, we tend to place ourselves in the role of the humble. We who are sick/sinful will be saved, while those who are to haughty to admit their similar need will be cast down (Nanny-nanny, boo-boo!). It think, other than my childish parenthetical, that’s an appropriate interpretation.
However, Lamentation 2 opens up another one to us. Instead of looking at it as a simultaneous swapping of places by two distinct groups of people, I see it here portrayed as a sequential concept for a single group. The Jews were falsely exalted, and so God humbled them; He did so, however, so that He could bring them back up in a healthy and appropriate manner consistent with His will. I see it as like the military process of basic training, where drill instructors break down the recruits psychologically so that they can be rebuilt into the soldiers the military needs them to be. In fact, this is the exact process described by the imagery of God’s refining fire. Gold is melted down and punished and humbled so that the dross can be separated out and discarded before the gold is reshaped and reformed into a more perfect creation.
3 | The most salient point of Lamentation 3 that I see is the idea, expounded in v. 24, that we are blind to blessings when we are strong. When things are going well, it’s easy to think that we’re in control and that we’ve accomplished great things. It’s only when the world falls apart that we realize that all those good things were blessings from God that are outside our control. We are reminded of our dependence on Him.
I don’t know if this is where it comes from or if it’s repeated elsewhere in scripture, but vv. 22-23 made me think of ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
All together now!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
4 | Lamentation 4 begins the transition from breaking down to rebuilding. The last verse claims that Israel’s punishment is over. From here on out, it’s the slow, difficult task of recovery, rebuilding, and restoration.