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Lamentations 3:1-3, 22-24, 43-45 – Lamentations 3:1–3, 22–24, 43–45

Summary

The chapter describes God's wrath in a series of verses that surround an expression of confidence in the Lord's enduring steadfast love (3:22-24). But the center cannot hold; the confidence unravels and intense petitioning resumes as the chapter progresses.

Analysis

The chapter starts with first-person speech by a male speaker. The speaker's plight is described with metaphors of encirclement (he is "besieged" "enveloped," "walled in"). But then comes a shift to conventional language extolling God's faithfulness and sovereignty. The speaker almost sounds like one of Job's friends. He asserts that God's rejection is not enduring or willingly implemented and he urges the audience to join in a return to God. But, as suddenly as the shift to confidence intervened in the text, it disappears. It is not just a matter of sinning and rebelling. The deeper problem is that God has not forgiven (3:42). Indeed, now God is accused of being "wrapped" in anger and in an impenetrable cloud that no prayer can pierce. Reading 3:22-24 shorn of its context distorts the function of Lamentations.

Lamentations 3:1-3, 22-24, 43-45

God’s Steadfast Love Endures

3I am one who has seen affliction
   under the rod of God’s * wrath;
2 he has driven and brought me
   into darkness without any light;
3 against me alone he turns his hand,
   again and again, all day long.


22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,*
   his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
24 ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
   ‘therefore I will hope in him.’


43 You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us,
   killing without pity;
44 you have wrapped yourself with a cloud
   so that no prayer can pass through.
45 You have made us filth and rubbish
   among the peoples.

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10 February 2011

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