Lamentations 4

1 How the gold has lost its luster, the fine gold become dull! The sacred gems are scattered at every street corner.
2 How the precious children of Zion, once worth their weight in gold, are now considered as pots of clay, the work of a potter’s hands!
3 Even jackals offer their breasts to nurse their young, but my people have become heartless like ostriches in the desert.
4 Because of thirst the infant’s tongue sticks to the roof of its mouth; the children beg for bread, but no one gives it to them.
5 Those who once ate delicacies are destitute in the streets. Those brought up in royal purple now lie on ash heaps.
6 The punishment of my people is greater than that of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment without a hand turned to help her.
7 Their princes were brighter than snow and whiter than milk, their bodies more ruddy than rubies, their appearance like lapis lazuli.
8 But now they are blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets. Their skin has shriveled on their bones; it has become as dry as a stick.
9 Those killed by the sword are better off than those who die of famine; racked with hunger, they waste away for lack of food from the field.
10 With their own hands compassionate women have cooked their own children, who became their food when my people were destroyed.
11 The LORD has given full vent to his wrath; he has poured out his fierce anger. He kindled a fire in Zion that consumed her foundations.
12 The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the peoples of the world, that enemies and foes could enter the gates of Jerusalem.
13 But it happened because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed within her the blood of the righteous.
14 Now they grope through the streets as if they were blind. They are so defiled with blood that no one dares to touch their garments.
15 “Go away! You are unclean!” people cry to them. “Away! Away! Don’t touch us!” When they flee and wander about, people among the nations say, “They can stay here no longer.”
16 The LORD himself has scattered them; he no longer watches over them. The priests are shown no honor, the elders no favor.
17 Moreover, our eyes failed, looking in vain for help; from our towers we watched for a nation that could not save us.
18 People stalked us at every step, so we could not walk in our streets. Our end was near, our days were numbered, for our end had come.
19 Our pursuers were swifter than eagles in the sky; they chased us over the mountains and lay in wait for us in the desert.
20 The LORD’s anointed, our very life breath, was caught in their traps. We thought that under his shadow we would live among the nations.
21 Rejoice and be glad, Daughter Edom, you who live in the land of Uz. But to you also the cup will be passed; you will be drunk and stripped naked.
22 Your punishment will end, Daughter Zion; he will not prolong your exile. But he will punish your sin, Daughter Edom, and expose your wickedness.

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 44

  • 1. Ezekiel 7:19
  • 2. Isaiah 51:18
  • 3. S Job 39:16
  • 4. S Deuteronomy 28:48; S 2 Kings 18:31
  • 5. S Psalms 22:15
  • 6. Lamentations 2:11,12
  • 7. Jeremiah 6:2
  • 8. S Isaiah 3:26; Amos 6:3-7
  • 9. S Genesis 19:25
  • 10. S Job 30:28
  • 11. Psalms 102:3-5; S Lamentations 3:4
  • 12. S 2 Kings 25:3
  • 13. S Jeremiah 15:2; S Jeremiah 16:4; Lamentations 5:10
  • 14. S Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53-57; Jeremiah 19:9; Lamentations 2:20; Ezekiel 5:10
  • 15. S Job 20:23
  • 16. S 2 Chronicles 34:21
  • 17. Nahum 1:6; Zephaniah 2:2; Zephaniah 3:8
  • 18. Jeremiah 17:27
  • 19. S Deuteronomy 32:22; S Jeremiah 7:20; Ezekiel 22:31
  • 20. S 1 Kings 9:9; S Jeremiah 21:13
  • 21. Jeremiah 5:31; Jeremiah 6:13; Ezekiel 22:28; Micah 3:11
  • 22. S 2 Kings 21:16
  • 23. S Isaiah 59:10
  • 24. Jeremiah 2:34; Jeremiah 19:4
  • 25. S Jeremiah 44:14
  • 26. Leviticus 13:46; Micah 2:10
  • 27. Isaiah 9:14-16
  • 28. Lamentations 5:12
  • 29. S Lamentations 2:6
  • 30. S Genesis 15:18; S Isaiah 20:5; Ezekiel 29:16
  • 31. S Lamentations 1:7
  • 32. Jeremiah 37:7
  • 33. Ezekiel 7:2-12; Amos 8:2
  • 34. S Deuteronomy 28:49
  • 35. S Leviticus 26:36; Isaiah 5:26-28
  • 36. Jeremiah 52:7
  • 37. S 1 Samuel 26:9; 2 Samuel 19:21
  • 38. Jeremiah 39:5; Ezekiel 12:12-13; Ezekiel 19:4,8
  • 39. S Psalms 91:1
  • 40. S Genesis 10:23
  • 41. S Psalms 16:5; S Jeremiah 25:15
  • 42. Isaiah 34:6-10; S Isaiah 63:6; Ezekiel 35:15; Amos 1:11-12; Obadiah 1:16; Habakkuk 2:16
  • 43. Isaiah 40:2; Jeremiah 33:8
  • 44. S Psalms 137:7; Ezekiel 25:12-14; Malachi 1:4

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

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