“How lonely sits the city that was full of people!” Jerusalem had become “like a widow.” She had once lived as a “princess,” but was now a “slave” of the Babylonians. The nation of Judah was grieving deeply. Even the city gates of Jerusalem and the roads that led to the temple mount were said to “mourn.” Why? “None come to the festival.”
The author of this poem was not a detached observer of these devastating days, but a lover of God who called out to the Lord in his own deep sorrow. His only hope was that deliverance would be sent forth from the Almighty, but how would the Lord save this wounded city? It was God Himself who had put such a heavy yoke upon His beloved people.
“The Lord rejected” the fighting men of Judah and crushed “the virgin daughter” of His chosen nation. The poet of Lamentations, traditionally thought to be the prophet Jeremiah, did not immediately feel the love of the Lord. The same could be said about all the faithful remnant who were scattered throughout many nations. “Zion stretches out her hands, but there is none to comfort her.”
Meanwhile, the enemies of God’s people were rejoicing to see the suffering of the men, women, and children of Jerusalem. The prophet turned to God concerning these cruel foes. Vengeance belonged to the Lord.
The final verse of this first of five poems gave some important concluding thoughts. First, Judah needed to admit that God had dealt with His holy city this way because of the transgression of His people. Second, the righteous remnant did not have to hide their sadness. They could be honest in grief. Third, there was no need to pretend that they were strong enough to survive these overwhelming losses without divine help. Crying out for aid made perfect sense, even though they might not feel that God was near.
Finally, the remainder of the book of Lamentations would eventually provide an outline of godly hope that would keep God’s people singing for many centuries to come. Witness the hymn “Great is thy faithfulness!” based on Lamentations 3. The same Lord who had warned His chosen people for so many years regarding the eventual consequences of their disobedience was not yet finished His saving work. The promised Savior, the eternal King of the Jews, would come at just the right time. He also would be a man of sorrows, but through His atoning sacrifice and His resurrection, the future blessings of the Jerusalem above would be secured forever.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Great God, we are in need. We cry out to You. Send forth Your Comforter, the powerful Spirit of Holiness. We suffer bitterly in this great battle. We have faced horrible defeat in warfare all around us. We have spirits, but we also have bodies. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. What has happened to our homes and our places of worship? Where are our children? How have we come to this sad place? Father, we have felt something of Your discipline. You are in the right. Yet, look upon us in our suffering. Our young men and women are gone. Many have died. Others are far from Your sanctuary. We do not pretend to be strong. Our groans are many. Our hearts are faint. Send forth Your Comforter, and rescue us.