Lamentations 4

Listen to Lamentations 4

The Holy Stones Lie Scattered

1 1How the gold has grown dim, how the pure gold is changed! The holy stones lie scattered 2at the head of every street.
2 The precious sons of Zion, worth their weight in 3fine gold, how they are regarded as 4earthen pots, the work of a potter's hands!
3 Even jackals offer the breast; they nurse their young, but the daughter of my people has become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.
4 The tongue of the nursing infant 5sticks to the roof of its mouth for thirst; 6the children beg for food, but no one gives to them.
5 Those who once feasted on delicacies perish in the streets; 7those who were brought up in purple embrace ash heaps.
6 8For the chastisement[a] of the daughter of my people has been greater than the punishment[b] of Sodom, 9which was overthrown in a moment, and no hands were wrung for her.[c]
7 Her princes were purer than snow, whiter than milk; their bodies were more ruddy than coral, the beauty of their form[d] was like sapphire.[e]
8 10Now their face is blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets; their skin has shriveled on their bones; it has become as dry as wood.
9 Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who wasted away, pierced by lack of the fruits of the field.
10 11The hands of 12compassionate women 13have boiled their own children; 14they became their food during the destruction of the daughter of my people.
11 15The LORD gave full vent to his wrath; he poured out his hot anger, and 16he kindled a fire in Zion that consumed its foundations.
12 17The kings of the earth did not believe, nor any of the inhabitants of the world, that foe or enemy could enter the gates of Jerusalem.
13 This was for 18the sins of her prophets and 19the iniquities of her priests, who shed in the midst of her the blood of the righteous.
14 20They wandered, blind, through the streets; they were so defiled with blood 21that no one was able to touch their garments.
15 "Away! 22Unclean!" people cried at them. "Away! Away! Do not touch!" So they became fugitives and wanderers; people said among the nations, "They shall stay with us no longer."
16 23The LORD himself[f] has scattered them; he will regard them no more; 24no honor was shown to the priests, 25no favor to the elders.
17 26Our eyes failed, ever watching 27vainly for help; in our watching we watched for 28a nation which could not save.
18 29They dogged our steps so that we could not walk in our streets; 30our end drew near; our days were numbered, for our end had come.
19 Our pursuers were 31swifter than the eagles in the heavens; they chased us on the mountains; they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
20 32The breath of our nostrils, 33the LORD's anointed, was captured 34in their pits, of whom we said, 35"Under his shadow we shall live among the nations."
21 36Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, you who dwell in 37the land of Uz; but to you also 38the cup shall pass; you shall become drunk and strip yourself bare.
22 39The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter of Zion, is accomplished; he will keep you in exile no longer;[g] but 40your iniquity, O daughter of Edom, he will punish; he will uncover your sins.

Lamentations 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

The deplorable state of the nation is contrasted with its ancient prosperity.

Verses 1-12 What a change is here! Sin tarnishes the beauty of the most exalted powers and the most excellent gifts; but that gold, tried in the fire, which Christ bestows, never will be taken from us; its outward appearance may be dimmed, but its real value can never be changed. The horrors of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem are again described. Beholding the sad consequences of sin in the church of old, let us seriously consider to what the same causes may justly bring down the church now. But, Lord, though we have gone from thee in rebellion, yet turn to us, and turn our hearts to thee, that we may fear thy name. Come to us, bless us with awakening, converting, renewing, confirming grace.

Verses 13-20 Nothing ripens a people more for ruin, nor fills the measure faster, than the sins of priests and prophets. The king himself cannot escape, for Divine vengeance pursues him. Our anointed King alone is the life of our souls; we may safely live under his shadow, and rejoice in Him in the midst of our enemies, for He is the true God and eternal life.

Verses 21-22 Here it is foretold that an end should be put to Zion's troubles. Not the fulness of punishment deserved, but of what God has determined to inflict. An end shall be put to Edom's triumphs. All the troubles of the church and of the believer will soon be accomplished. And the doom of their enemies approaches. The Lord will bring their sins to light, and they shall lie down in eternal sorrow. Edom here represents all the enemies of the church. And the corruption, and sin of Israel, which the prophet has proved to be universal, justifies the judgments of the Lord. It shows the need of that grace in Christ Jesus, which the sin and corruption of all mankind make so necessary.

Cross References 40

  • 1. [Isaiah 1:22; Jeremiah 6:30]
  • 2. Lamentations 2:19
  • 3. Psalms 19:10
  • 4. See Jeremiah 19:11
  • 5. Psalms 22:15
  • 6. [Lamentations 2:11]
  • 7. [2 Samuel 1:24]
  • 8. Matthew 10:15; Luke 10:12
  • 9. Genesis 19:25; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 7
  • 10. Lamentations 5:10; Job 30:30; [Psalms 119:83]
  • 11. See Jeremiah 19:9
  • 12. [1 Kings 3:26; Isaiah 49:15]
  • 13. [2 Kings 6:29]
  • 14. Deuteronomy 28:57
  • 15. Ezekiel 5:13
  • 16. See Jeremiah 17:27
  • 17. [Isaiah 52:15; Isaiah 53:1]
  • 18. [Lamentations 2:20]; See Jeremiah 5:31; Jeremiah 23:21
  • 19. [Lamentations 2:20]; See Jeremiah 5:31; Jeremiah 23:21
  • 20. [Isaiah 59:10]
  • 21. [Numbers 19:16]
  • 22. [Leviticus 13:45]
  • 23. Lamentations 2:17
  • 24. [Isaiah 24:2]
  • 25. Lamentations 5:12
  • 26. Psalms 119:82, 123; [Jeremiah 3:23]
  • 27. Psalms 119:82, 123; [Jeremiah 3:23]
  • 28. Jeremiah 37:7, 8
  • 29. Lamentations 3:52
  • 30. Ezek. 7:2, 3, 6; Amos 8:2
  • 31. Jeremiah 4:13; [2 Samuel 1:23; Habakkuk 1:8]
  • 32. [Genesis 2:7]
  • 33. [Lamentations 2:9; 2 Kings 25:5, 6]
  • 34. [Ezekiel 12:13; Ezekiel 17:20; Ezekiel 19:4, 8]
  • 35. [Judges 9:15; Ezekiel 31:6, 17]
  • 36. [Lamentations 1:21]
  • 37. Job 1:1; Jeremiah 25:20
  • 38. See Jeremiah 25:15, 16
  • 39. [Isaiah 40:2]
  • 40. Obadiah 10

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. Or iniquity
  • [b]. Or sin
  • [c]. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain
  • [d]. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain
  • [e]. Hebrew lapis lazuli
  • [f]. Hebrew The face of the Lord
  • [g]. Or he will not exile you again

Chapter Summary


The prophet begins this chapter with a complaint of the ill usage of the dear children of God, and precious sons of Zion, La 4:1,2; relates the dreadful effects of the famine during the siege of Jerusalem, La 4:3-10; the taking and destruction of that city he imputes to the wrath of God; and represents it as incredible to the kings and inhabitants of the earth, La 4:11,12; the causes of which were the sins of the prophets, priests, and people, La 4:13-16; expresses the vain hopes they once had, but now were given up entirely, their king being taken, La 4:17-20; and the chapter is concluded with a prophecy of the destruction of the Edomites, and of the return of the Jews from captivity, La 4:21,22.

Lamentations 4 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.