Lamentations 3

Israel’s Affliction

1 I am a man who has seen misery, under the rod of his wrath.
2 He has driven me along, he brought darkness and not light.
3 Surely he has turned his hand against me, all day long.
4 He has worn out my flesh and skin, he has broken my bones.
5 {He has besieged} and engulfed me with bitterness and hardship.
6 In darkness he has let me dwell like [the] dead of long ago.
7 He has built a wall around me, I cannot go out; he has made my bronze fetters heavy.
8 Though I cry out for help, he shuts out my prayers.
9 He has blocked my ways with dressed stones; he has made my paths crooked.
10 To me he [is] like a bear lying in wait, a lion in hiding.
11 He has forsaken my way and torn me to pieces; he has caused me desolation.
12 He has bent his bow and set me as the target for the arrow.
13 He shot {the arrows of his quiver} into my kidneys.
14 I have become a laughingstock for all the people, their mocking song all day long.
15 He has filled me with bitterness, he has drenched me [with] wormwood.
16 He has broken my teeth on grit, he has trampled me down in ash.
17 My life has been removed from peace, I have forgotten goodness.
18 And I have said, "My glory is ruined, my expectation from Yahweh."
19 Remember my misery and bitterness, the wormwood and venom!
20 Surely my soul remembers and bows down within me.
21 This {I have reminded myself}, therefore I will hope.
22 The loyal love of Yahweh does not cease; his compassions do not come to an end.
23 [They] are new in the morning, great is your faithfulness.
24 "Yahweh is my portion," says my soul, "Thus I will hope on him."
25 Yahweh is good to those who wait on him, to the person that seeks him.
26 [It is] good to wait in silence for the salvation of Yahweh.
27 [It is] good for a man who carries the yoke of his childhood.
28 Let him sit alone and be silent when he has laid it on him.
29 Let {him put} his mouth in the dust; perhaps there is hope.
30 Let him give a cheek to his smiter, let him be filled with disgrace.
31 For the Lord will not reject forever.
32 For even though he causes grief he has compassion according to the greatness of his royal love.
33 He does not {afflict willingly}, or grieve {anyone}.
34 To crush under his feet all [the] prisoners of [the] earth;
35 {to deprive one of justice} before the face of the Most High;
36 to subvert a person in a legal dispute --the Lord has not found delight [in these things].
37 {Who can speak} and it will happen [if] the Lord has not commanded [it]?
38 [Is] it not from the mouth of the Most High [that] disaster and good will come?
39 Why should any living person complain about his sin?
40 Let us test and examine our ways; let us return to Yahweh.
41 Let us lift up our hearts with our hands to God in the heavens.
42 We ourselves have transgressed and rebelled, you have not forgiven.
43 You have covered [yourself] {in anger} and pursued us, you have slain and not shown mercy.
44 You have covered yourself in a cloud {so that prayer cannot pass through}.
45 You have made us scum and refuse in the midst of the nations.
46 All our enemies have opened their mouth against us.
47 Fear and a pit have come upon us, desolation and destruction.
48 Channels of water run down my eyes because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.
49 My eyes have poured down unceasingly without respite,
50 until Yahweh looks down and sees from heaven.
51 My eyes inflict my soul because of all the daughters of my city.
52 My enemies hunt me without cause, like a bird.
53 {They have silenced me in a pit}, they have thrown a stone at me.
54 Water has flown over my head, I said, "I am cut off."
55 I have called your name, O Yahweh, from the depths of the pit.
56 You have heard my cry, "Do not shut your ear to my cry for help, for my relief!"
57 You came near on a day [when] I called you, you said, "Do not fear!"
58 O Lord, you have pleaded for {my cause}, you have redeemed my life.
59 You have seen my injustice, O Yahweh; judge my case.
60 You have seen all their vengeance, all there plans against me.
61 You have heard their disgrace, O Yahweh, all their plans against me.
62 The lips and meditation of my assailants [are] against me all day long.
63 Look at their sitting and their standing, I [am] their mocking song.
64 Return to them what is deserved, O Yahweh, according to the work of their hands.
65 Give them a stubborn heart; curse them!
66 Pursue them {in anger} and destroy them from under the heavens of Yahweh.

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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 15

  • [a]. Literally "he has built against"
  • [b]. Literally "the offspring of his arrow quiver"
  • [c]. Or "the bitter substance"
  • [d]. Literally "I have brought back to my heart"
  • [e]. Yahweh
  • [f]. Literally "him give"
  • [g]. Literally "afflict from the heart"
  • [h]. Literally "the sons of men"
  • [i]. Literally "to turn aside the judgment of a man"
  • [j]. Literally "Who is this that speaks"
  • [k]. Literally "in the nose"
  • [l]. Literally "from a passing prayer"
  • [m]. Literally "they have put to silence my life in a pit"
  • [n]. Literally "the legal disputes of my soul"
  • [o]. Literally "in nose"

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 quotations marked (LEB) are from the Lexham English Bible. Copyright 2012 Logos Bible Software. Lexham is a registered trademark of Logos Bible Software.