Lamentations is a poetic masterpiece that captures the profound sorrow of a once-glorious Jerusalem now laid to waste. Chapter 1 paints a vivid picture of the city personified as a lonely widow, utterly deserted and mourning her losses after the Babylonian invasion. It’s a poignant exploration of the themes of suffering, the consequences of turning away from God, and the stark reality of exile.
The Rev. Brian Heller, manager of Specialized Spiritual Care Ministry for the LCMS Office of National Mission, joins the Rev. Dr. Phil Booe to study Lamentations 1.
Embark on a journey through the Book of Lamentations, a deeply moving poetic reflection on the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. This book is a profound expression of grief, portraying the desolation of a city and a people who have experienced immense suffering. Each chapter brings its unique perspective, from the vivid portrayal of Jerusalem as a lonely, grieving widow to the poignant pleas for mercy and reflection on the unyielding justice of God. The imagery is stark and emotive, encapsulating the pain of exile and the consequences of turning away from God. Yet, amidst the mourning, Lamentations also offers glimmers of hope and the possibility of redemption. It’s a powerful exploration of human sorrow, divine justice, and the enduring faithfulness of God, even in the darkest of times.
Thy Strong Word, hosted by Rev. Dr. Phil Booe, pastor of St. John Lutheran Church of Luverne, MN, reveals the light of our salvation in Christ through study of God’s Word, breaking our darkness with His redeeming light. Each weekday, two pastors fix our eyes on Jesus by considering Holy Scripture, verse by verse, in order to be strengthened in the Word and be equipped to faithfully serve in our daily vocations.
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How Lonely Sits the City
1 How lonely sits the city
that was full of people!
How like a widow has she become,
she who was great among the nations!
She who was a princess among the provinces
has become a slave.
2 She weeps bitterly in the night,
with tears on her cheeks;
among all her lovers
she has none to comfort her;
all her friends have dealt treacherously with her;
they have become her enemies.
3 Judah has gone into exile because of affliction[a]
and hard servitude;
she dwells now among the nations,
but finds no resting place;
her pursuers have all overtaken her
in the midst of her distress.[b]
4 The roads to Zion mourn,
for none come to the festival;
all her gates are desolate;
her priests groan;
her virgins have been afflicted,[c]
and she herself suffers bitterly.
5 Her foes have become the head;
her enemies prosper,
because the Lord has afflicted her
for the multitude of her transgressions;
her children have gone away,
captives before the foe.
6 From the daughter of Zion
all her majesty has departed.
Her princes have become like deer
that find no pasture;
they fled without strength
before the pursuer.
7 Jerusalem remembers
in the days of her affliction and wandering
all the precious things
that were hers from days of old.
When her people fell into the hand of the foe,
and there was none to help her,
her foes gloated over her;
they mocked at her downfall.
8 Jerusalem sinned grievously;
therefore she became filthy;
all who honored her despise her,
for they have seen her nakedness;
she herself groans
and turns her face away.
9 Her uncleanness was in her skirts;
she took no thought of her future;[d]
therefore her fall is terrible;
she has no comforter.
“O Lord, behold my affliction,
for the enemy has triumphed!”
10 The enemy has stretched out his hands
over all her precious things;
for she has seen the nations
enter her sanctuary,
those whom you forbade
to enter your congregation.
11 All her people groan
as they search for bread;
they trade their treasures for food
to revive their strength.
“Look, O Lord, and see,
for I am despised.”
12 “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look and see
if there is any sorrow like my sorrow,
which was brought upon me,
which the Lord inflicted
on the day of his fierce anger.
13 “From on high he sent fire;
into my bones[e] he made it descend;
he spread a net for my feet;
he turned me back;
he has left me stunned,
faint all the day long.
14 “My transgressions were bound[f] into a yoke;
by his hand they were fastened together;
they were set upon my neck;
he caused my strength to fail;
the Lord gave me into the hands
of those whom I cannot withstand.
15 “The Lord rejected
all my mighty men in my midst;
he summoned an assembly against me
to crush my young men;
the Lord has trodden as in a winepress
the virgin daughter of Judah.
16 “For these things I weep;
my eyes flow with tears;
for a comforter is far from me,
one to revive my spirit;
my children are desolate,
for the enemy has prevailed.”
17 Zion stretches out her hands,
but there is none to comfort her;
the Lord has commanded against Jacob
that his neighbors should be his foes;
Jerusalem has become
a filthy thing among them.
18 “The Lord is in the right,
for I have rebelled against his word;
but hear, all you peoples,
and see my suffering;
my young women and my young men
have gone into captivity.
19 “I called to my lovers,
but they deceived me;
my priests and elders
perished in the city,
while they sought food
to revive their strength.
20 “Look, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my stomach churns;
my heart is wrung within me,
because I have been very rebellious.
In the street the sword bereaves;
in the house it is like death.
21 “They heard[g] my groaning,
yet there is no one to comfort me.
All my enemies have heard of my trouble;
they are glad that you have done it.
You have brought[h] the day you announced;
now let them be as I am.
22 “Let all their evildoing come before you,
and deal with them
as you have dealt with me
because of all my transgressions;
for my groans are many,
and my heart is faint.”
- Lamentations 1:3 Or under affliction
- Lamentations 1:3 Or in the narrow passes
- Lamentations 1:4 Septuagint, Old Latin dragged away
- Lamentations 1:9 Or end
- Lamentations 1:13 Septuagint; Hebrew bones and
- Lamentations 1:14 The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain
- Lamentations 1:21 Septuagint, Syriac Hear
- Lamentations 1:21 Syriac Bring
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. esv.org