Lamentations 3

1 I'm the man who has seen trouble, trouble coming from the lash of God's anger.
2 He took me by the hand and walked me into pitch-black darkness.
3 Yes, he's given me the back of his hand over and over and over again.
4 He turned me into a scarecrow of skin and bones, then broke the bones.
5 He hemmed me in, ganged up on me, poured on the trouble and hard times.
6 He locked me up in deep darkness, like a corpse nailed inside a coffin.
7 He shuts me in so I'll never get out, manacles my hands, shackles my feet.
8 Even when I cry out and plead for help, he locks up my prayers and throws away the key.
9 He sets up blockades with quarried limestone. He's got me cornered.
10 He's a prowling bear tracking me down, a lion in hiding ready to pounce.
11 He knocked me from the path and ripped me to pieces. When he finished, there was nothing left of me.
12 He took out his bow and arrows and used me for target practice.
13 He shot me in the stomach with arrows from his quiver.
14 Everyone took me for a joke, made me the butt of their mocking ballads.
15 He forced rotten, stinking food down my throat, bloated me with vile drinks.
16 He ground my face into the gravel. He pounded me into the mud.
17 I gave up on life altogether. I've forgotten what the good life is like.
18 I said to myself, "This is it. I'm finished. God is a lost cause." It's a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God
19 I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
20 I remember it all - oh, how well I remember - the feeling of hitting the bottom.
21 But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
22 God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up.
23 They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!
24 I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left.
25 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.
26 It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God.
27 It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times.
28 When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
29 Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.
30 Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst.
31 Why? Because the Master won't ever walk out and fail to return.
32 If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
33 He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way:
34 Stomping down hard on luckless prisoners,
35 Refusing justice to victims in the court of High God,
36 Tampering with evidence - the Master does not approve of such things. God Speaks Both Good Things and Hard Things into Being
37 Who do you think "spoke and it happened"? It's the Master who gives such orders.
38 Doesn't the High God speak everything, good things and hard things alike, into being?
39 And why would anyone gifted with life complain when punished for sin?
40 Let's take a good look at the way we're living and reorder our lives under God.
41 Let's lift our hearts and hands at one and the same time, praying to God in heaven:
42 "We've been contrary and willful, and you haven't forgiven.
43 "You lost your temper with us, holding nothing back. You chased us and cut us down without mercy.
44 You wrapped yourself in thick blankets of clouds so no prayers could get through.
45 You treated us like dirty dishwater, threw us out in the backyard of the nations.
46 "Our enemies shout abuse, their mouths full of derision, spitting invective.
47 We've been to hell and back. We've nowhere to turn, nowhere to go.
48 Rivers of tears pour from my eyes at the smashup of my dear people.
49 "The tears stream from my eyes, an artesian well of tears,
50 Until you, God, look down from on high, look and see my tears.
51 When I see what's happened to the young women in the city, the pain breaks my heart.
52 "Enemies with no reason to be enemies hunted me down like a bird.
53 They threw me into a pit, then pelted me with stones.
54 Then the rains came and filled the pit. The water rose over my head. I said, 'It's all over.'
55 "I called out your name, O God, called from the bottom of the pit.
56 You listened when I called out, 'Don't shut your ears! Get me out of here! Save me!'
57 You came close when I called out. You said, 'It's going to be all right.'
58 "You took my side, Master; you brought me back alive!
59 God, you saw the wrongs heaped on me. Give me my day in court!
60 Yes, you saw their mean-minded schemes, their plots to destroy me.
61 "You heard, God, their vicious gossip, their behind-my-back plots to ruin me.
62 They never quit, these enemies of mine, dreaming up mischief, hatching out malice, day after day after day.
63 Sitting down or standing up - just look at them! - they mock me with vulgar doggerel.
64 "Make them pay for what they've done, God. Give them their just deserts.
65 Break their miserable hearts! Damn their eyes!
66 Get good and angry. Hunt them down. Make a total demolition here under your 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

Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.