Lamentations 3

1 I am one who knows what it is to be punished by God.
2 He drove me deeper and deeper into darkness
3 And beat me again and again with merciless blows.
4 He has left my flesh open and raw, and has broken my bones.
5 He has shut me in a prison of misery and anguish.
6 He has forced me to live in the stagnant darkness of death.
7 He has bound me in chains; I am a prisoner with no hope of escape.
8 I cry aloud for help, but God refuses to listen;
9 I stagger as I walk; stone walls block me wherever I turn.
10 He waited for me like a bear; he pounced on me like a lion.
11 He chased me off the road, tore me to pieces, and left me.
12 He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows.
13 He shot his arrows deep into my body.
14 People laugh at me all day long; I am a joke to them all.
15 Bitter suffering is all he has given me for food and drink.
16 He rubbed my face in the ground and broke my teeth on rocks.
17 I have forgotten what health and peace and happiness are.
18 I do not have much longer to live; my hope in the Lord is gone.
19 The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison.
20 I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed.
21 Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing:
22 The Lord's unfailing love and mercy still continue,
23 Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.
24 The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.
25 The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him,
26 So it is best for us to wait in patience - to wait for him to save us -
27 And it is best to learn this patience in our youth.
28 When we suffer, we should sit alone in silent patience;
29 We should bow in submission, for there may still be hope.
30 Though beaten and insulted, we should accept it all.
31 The Lord is merciful and will not reject us forever.
32 He may bring us sorrow, but his love for us is sure and strong.
33 He takes no pleasure in causing us grief or pain.
34 The Lord knows when our spirits are crushed in prison;
35 He knows when we are denied the rights he gave us;
36 When justice is perverted in court, he knows.
37 The will of the Lord alone is always carried out.
38 Good and evil alike take place at his command.
39 Why should we ever complain when we are punished for our sin?
40 Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord.
41 Let us open our hearts to God in heaven and pray,
42 "We have sinned and rebelled, and you, O Lord, have not forgiven us.
43 "You pursued us and killed us; your mercy was hidden by your anger,
44 By a cloud of fury too thick for our prayers to get through.
45 You have made us the garbage dump of the world.
46 "We are insulted and mocked by all our enemies.
47 We have been through disaster and ruin; we live in danger and fear.
48 My eyes flow with rivers of tears at the destruction of my people.
49 "My tears will pour out in a ceaseless stream
50 Until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees us.
51 My heart is grieved when I see what has happened to the women of the city.
52 "I was trapped like a bird by enemies who had no cause to hate me.
53 They threw me alive into a pit and closed the opening with a stone.
54 Water began to close over me, and I thought death was near.
55 "From the bottom of the pit, O Lord, I cried out to you,
56 And when I begged you to listen to my cry, you heard.
57 You answered me and told me not to be afraid.
58 "You came to my rescue, Lord, and saved my life.
59 Judge in my favor; you know the wrongs done against me.
60 You know how my enemies hate me and how they plot against me.
61 "You have heard them insult me, O Lord; you know all their plots.
62 All day long they talk about me and make their plans.
63 From morning till night they make fun of me.
64 "Punish them for what they have done, O Lord;
65 Curse them and fill them with despair!
66 Hunt them down and wipe them off the earth!"

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Lamentations 3 Commentary

Chapter 3

The faithful lament their calamities, and hope in God's mercies.

Verses 1-20 The prophet relates the more gloomy and discouraging part of his experience, and how he found support and relief. In the time of his trial the Lord had become terrible to him. It was an affliction that was misery itself; for sin makes the cup of affliction a bitter cup. The struggle between unbelief and faith is often very severe. But the weakest believer is wrong, if he thinks that his strength and hope are perished from the Lord.

Verses 21-36 Having stated his distress and temptation, the prophet shows how he was raised above it. Bad as things are, it is owing to the mercy of God that they are not worse. We should observe what makes for us, as well as what is against us. God's compassions fail not; of this we have fresh instances every morning. Portions on earth are perishing things, but God is a portion for ever. It is our duty, and will be our comfort and satisfaction, to hope and quietly to wait for the salvation of the Lord. Afflictions do and will work very much for good: many have found it good to bear this yoke in their youth; it has made many humble and serious, and has weaned them from the world, who otherwise would have been proud and unruly. If tribulation work patience, that patience will work experience, and that experience a hope that makes not ashamed. Due thoughts of the evil of sin, and of our own sinfulness, will convince us that it is of the Lord's mercies we are not consumed. If we cannot say with unwavering voice, The Lord is my portion; may we not say, I desire to have Him for my portion and salvation, and in his word do I hope? Happy shall we be, if we learn to receive affliction as laid upon us by the hand of God.

Verses 37-41 While there is life there is hope; and instead of complaining that things are bad, we should encourage ourselves with the hope they will be better. We are sinful men, and what we complain of, is far less than our sins deserve. We should complain to God, and not of him. We are apt, in times of calamity, to reflect on other people's ways, and blame them; but our duty is to search and try our own ways, that we may turn from evil to God. Our hearts must go with our prayers. If inward impressions do not answer to outward expressions, we mock God, and deceive ourselves.

Verses 42-54 The more the prophet looked on the desolations, the more he was grieved. Here is one word of comfort. While they continued weeping, they continued waiting; and neither did nor would expect relief and succour from any but the Lord.

Verses 55-66 Faith comes off conqueror, for in these verses the prophet concludes with some comfort. Prayer is the breath of the new man, drawing in the air of mercy in petitions, and returning it in praises; it proves and maintains the spiritual life. He silenced their fears, and quieted their spirits. Thou saidst, Fear not. This was the language of God's grace, by the witness of his Spirit with their spirits. And what are all our sorrows, compared with those of the Redeemer? He will deliver his people from every trouble, and revive his church from every persecution. He will save believers with everlasting salvation, while his enemies perish with everlasting destruction.

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. The will . . . out; [or] No one can make anything happen unless the Lord is willing.
  • [b]. Why should . . . sin?; [or] Why should we complain about being punished for sin, as long as we are still alive?

Chapter Summary


This chapter is a complaint and lamentation like the former, and on the same subject, only the prophet mixes his own afflictions and distresses with the public calamities; or else he represents the church in her complaints; and some have thought him to be a type of Christ throughout the whole; to whom various things may be applied. It is indeed written in a different form from the other chapters, in another sort of metre; and though in an alphabetical manner as the rest, yet with this difference, that three verses together begin with the same letter; so that the alphabet is gone through three times in it. Here is first a complaint of the afflictions of the prophet, and of the people, expressed by a rod, by darkness, by wormwood and gall, and many other things; and especially by the Lord's appearing against them as an enemy, in a most severe and terrible manner; shutting out their prayer; being as a bear and lion to them; and giving them up to the cruelty and scorn of their enemies, La 3:1-21; then follows some comfort taken by them, from the mercy, faithfulness, and goodness of God; from the usefulness of patience in bearing afflictions; and from the end of God in laying them upon men; and from the providence of God, by which all things are ordered, La 3:22-38; wherefore, instead of complaining, it would be better, it is suggested, to attend to the duties of examination of their ways, and of repentance, and of prayer, La 3:39-41; and a particular prayer is directed to, in which confession of sin is made, and their miseries deplored, by reason of the hidings of God's face, and the insults of their enemies, La 3:42-47; and then the prophet expresses his sympathy with his people under affliction, and declares what he himself met with from his enemies, La 3:48-54; and relates bow he called upon the Lord, and he heard and delivered him, La 3:55-58; and concludes with a request that he would judge his cause, and avenge him on enemies, La 3:59-66.

Lamentations 3 Commentaries

Scripture taken from the Good News Translation - Second Edition, Copyright 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.