Oh, oh, oh . . . How empty the city, once teeming with people. A widow, this city, once in the front rank of nations, once queen of the ball, she's now a drudge in the kitchen.
She cries herself to sleep each night, tears soaking her pillow. No one's left among her lovers to sit and hold her hand. Her friends have all dumped her.
After years of pain and hard labor, Judah has gone into exile. She camps out among the nations, never feels at home. Hunted by all, she's stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Zion's roads weep, empty of pilgrims headed to the feasts. All her city gates are deserted, her priests in despair. Her virgins are sad. How bitter her fate.
Her enemies have become her masters. Her foes are living it up because God laid her low, punishing her repeated rebellions. Her children, prisoners of the enemy, trudge into exile.
All beauty has drained from Daughter Zion's face. Her princes are like deer famished for food, chased to exhaustion by hunters.
Jerusalem remembers the day she lost everything, when her people fell into enemy hands, and not a soul there to help. Enemies looked on and laughed, laughed at her helpless silence.
Jerusalem, who outsinned the whole world, is an outcast. All who admired her despise her now that they see beneath the surface. Miserable, she groans and turns away in shame.
She played fast and loose with life, she never considered tomorrow, and now she's crashed royally, with no one to hold her hand: "Look at my pain, O God! And how the enemy cruelly struts."
The enemy reached out to take all her favorite things. She watched as pagans barged into her Sanctuary, those very people for whom you posted orders: keep out: this assembly off-limits.
All the people groaned, so desperate for food, so desperate to stay alive that they bartered their favorite things for a bit of breakfast: "O God, look at me! Worthless, cheap, abject!
"And you passersby, look at me! Have you ever seen anything like this? Ever seen pain like my pain, seen what he did to me, what God did to me in his rage?
"He struck me with lightning, skewered me from head to foot, then he set traps all around so I could hardly move. He left me with nothing - left me sick, and sick of living.
"He wove my sins into a rope and harnessed me to captivity's yoke. I'm goaded by cruel taskmasters.
"The Master piled up my best soldiers in a heap, then called in thugs to break their fine young necks. The Master crushed the life out of fair virgin Judah.
"For all this I weep, weep buckets of tears, and not a soul within miles around cares for my soul. My children are wasted, my enemy got his way."
Zion reached out for help, but no one helped. God ordered Jacob's enemies to surround him, and now no one wants anything to do with Jerusalem.
"God has right on his side. I'm the one who did wrong. Listen everybody! Look at what I'm going through! My fair young women, my fine young men, all herded into exile!
"I called to my friends; they betrayed me. My priests and my leaders only looked after themselves, trying but failing to save their own skins.
"O God, look at the trouble I'm in! My stomach in knots, my heart wrecked by a life of rebellion. Massacres in the streets, starvation in the houses.
"Oh, listen to my groans. No one listens, no one cares. When my enemies heard of the trouble you gave me, they cheered. Bring on Judgment Day! Let them get what I got!
"Take a good look at their evil ways and give it to them! Give them what you gave me for my sins. Groaning in pain, body and soul, I've had all I can take."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)