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Commentary » Lamentations 4:1-Lamentations 4:13 » Family-Times.net
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God’s Punishment For Jerusalem’s Sin

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Once, when Mr. LaGuardia, the famous ex-mayor of New York, was presiding at a police court, they brought a trembling old man before him charged with stealing a loaf of bread. He said his family was starving. “Well, I’ve got to punish you,” said Mr. LaGuardia. “The … More

Famine

Jerusalem’s judgment is brought into sharp focus by comparing her present condition with that before the fall. Jeremiah makes a contrast of the happy conditions of former days with the present devastation of Jerusalem.

First the fate of the city is described; then the prophet gives the reasons for the unbelievable devastation. The prophet focuses his readers thoughts in an unusual way upon Judah’s tragic fate. He employs a series of striking contrasts:

  1. The fate of the gold and precious stones (vv. 1-2). Once bright and shining Jerusalem’s gold is now dimmed and marred.
  2. The tragedy of starving infants (vv. 3-6). Even the wealthiest and most cultured mothers now go hungry. While Sodom’s destruction was sudden, Jerusalem’s ruin came by prolonged torment.
  3. The debilitation of the Nazarites (vv. 7-8). These noble men, separated unto God and once physically magnificent, now are shriveled with hunger.
  4. The misery of famine (vv. 9-11). Far better to have perished by the sword than to be reduced to the inhuman extremities of hunger and want.
  5. The false confidence of Jerusalem’s people (vv. 12-13). Jerusalem was a mighty fortress which seemed secure. The people thought God would never allow the city where His presence dwelt to be destroyed.

Application

I must be careful not to glory in what I have and fall into spiritual bankruptcy.

Lamentations 4:1-13 (English Standard Version)

How the gold has grown dim, how the pure gold is changed! The holy stones lie scattered at the head of every street. The precious sons of Zion, worth their weight in fine gold, how they are regarded as earthen pots, the work of a potter's hands! Even jackals offer the breast; they nurse their young, but the daughter of my people has become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness. The tongue of the nursing infant sticks to the roof of its mouth for thirst; the children beg for food, but no one gives to them. Those who once feasted on delicacies perish in the streets; those who were brought up in purple embrace ash heaps. For the chastisement of the daughter of my people has been greater than the punishment of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, and no hands were wrung for her. Her princes were purer than snow, whiter than milk; their bodies were more ruddy than coral, the beauty of their form was like sapphire. Now their face is blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets; their skin has shriveled on their bones; it has become as dry as wood. Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who wasted away, pierced by lack of the fruits of the field. The hands of compassionate women have boiled their own children; they became their food during the destruction of the daughter of my people. The LORD gave full vent to his wrath; he poured out his hot anger, and he kindled a fire in Zion that consumed its foundations. The kings of the earth did not believe, nor any of the inhabitants of the world, that foe or enemy could enter the gates of Jerusalem. This was for the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed in the midst of her the blood of the righteous.

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