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Lamentations 4:21-22 – Enemies Undone

Summary

Lamentations 4:21-22 along with 1:21-22 and 3:64-66 call upon God to punish those who have attacked the community.

Analysis

Most of the pleas for change in Lamentations are directed at and to God. God must see, hear, and act. God must shift away from rejection and anger. But in three brief passages, the speakers in Lamentation demand that their enemies be held accountable for the destruction they have perpetrated, even though they were invited by God (2:22). These petitions are dependent on recognizing the shift in focus from punishment to suffering. Zion's suffering marks the experience of rejection by God, and the longer the suffering persists the more it looks like God is absent and the enemies will have free reign in the lives of the community. The speakers demand that God punish the current evildoers just as God had punished and continues to punish Zion and Jerusalem for its rebellion. This is a zero-sum situation. If Edom or other enemies persist in their actions against the speakers, God is not paying attention. Dealing with Edom and others like it will be a sign that God has seen and considered the plight of the speakers. Apart from the extremity experienced by the speakers, these imprecations would quickly be become simply vengeful. In such extremity, however, they are a form of imploring God to change.

Lamentations 4:21-22


21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter Edom,
   you that live in the land of Uz;
but to you also the cup shall pass;
   you shall become drunk and strip yourself bare.


22 The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter Zion, is accomplished,
   he will keep you in exile no longer;
but your iniquity, O daughter Edom, he will punish,
   he will uncover your sins.

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