Lamentations 3

1 "I am the man who has experienced suffering under the rod of God's fury.
2 God has driven me away and made me walk in darkness instead of light.
3 He beat me again and again all day long.
4 He has made my flesh and my skin waste away. He has broken my bones.
5 He has attacked me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship.
6 He has made me live in darkness, like those who died a long time ago.
7 He has blocked me so that I can't get out. He has put heavy chains on me.
8 Even when I cry and call for help, he shuts out my prayer.
9 He has blocked my way with cut stones and made my paths crooked.
10 He is like a bear waiting to ambush me, like a lion in hiding.
11 He has forced me off the road I was taking, torn me to pieces, and left me with nothing.
12 He has drawn his bow and made me the target for his arrows.
13 He has shot the arrows from his quiver into my heart.
14 I have become a laughingstock to all my people. All day long [they make fun of me] with their songs.
15 He has filled me with bitterness. He has made me drink wormwood.
16 He has ground my teeth with gravel. He has trampled me into the dust.
17 "My soul has been kept from enjoying peace. I have forgotten what happiness is.
18 I said, 'I've lost my strength [to live] and my hope in the LORD.'
19 Remember my suffering and my [aimless] wandering, the wormwood and poison.
20 My soul continues to remember [these things] and is so discouraged.
21 "The reason I can [still] find hope is that I keep this one thing in mind:
22 the LORD's mercy. We were not completely wiped out. His compassion is never limited.
23 It is new every morning. His faithfulness is great.
24 My soul can say, 'The LORD is my lot [in life]. That is why I find hope in him.'
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to anyone who seeks help from him.
26 "It is good to continue to hope and wait silently for the LORD to save us.
27 It is good for people to endure burdens when they're young.
28 They should sit alone and remain silent because the LORD has laid these burdens on them.
29 They should put their mouths in the dust. Maybe a reason to hope exists.
30 They should turn their cheeks to the one who strikes them and take their fill of insults.
31 "The Lord will not reject [such] people forever.
32 Even if he makes us suffer, he will have compassion in keeping with the richness of his mercy.
33 He does not willingly bring suffering or grief to anyone,
34 crush any prisoner on earth underfoot,
35 deny people their rights in the presence of the Most High God,
36 or deprive people of justice in court. The Lord isn't happy to see [these things].
37 Who was it who spoke and it came into being? It was the Lord who gave the order.
38 Both good and bad come from the mouth of the Most High God.
39 "Why should any living mortal (any person) complain about being punished for sin?
40 Let us look closely at our ways and examine them and then return to the LORD.
41 Let us raise our hearts and hands to God in heaven.
42 "We have been disobedient and rebellious. You haven't forgiven us.
43 You covered yourself with anger and pursued us. You killed without pity.
44 You covered yourself with a cloud so that no prayer could get through it.
45 You made us the scum and trash of the nations.
46 All our enemies gawk at us.
47 Panic and pitfalls have found us, so have devastation and destruction.
48 "Streams of tears run down from my eyes over the ruin of my dear people.
49 My eyes will keep flowing without stopping for a moment
50 until the LORD looks down from heaven and sees.
51 What I see with my eyes disturbs me deeply because of all the young women in my city.
52 "Those who were my enemies for no reason hunted me like a bird.
53 They threw me alive into a pit and threw rocks at me.
54 Water flowed over my head. I thought I was finished.
55 "I call your name from the deepest pit, O LORD.
56 Listen to my cry [for help]. Don't close your ears when I cry out for relief.
57 Be close at hand when I call to you. You told me not to be afraid.
58 Plead my case for me, O LORD. Reclaim my life.
59 Look at the wrong that has been done to me, O LORD. Give me a fair verdict.
60 Look at all their malice, all their plots against me.
61 Listen to their insults, all their plots against me.
62 The words and thoughts of those who attack me are directed against me all day long.
63 Look at them! Whether they are sitting or standing, they make fun of me in their songs.
64 Pay them back, O LORD, for what they deserve, for what their own hands have done.
65 Make them stubborn. Let your curse be on them.
66 Pursue them in anger, and wipe them out from under the LORD's heaven."

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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.

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

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