Lamentations 3:39

39 Why should any who draw breath complain about the punishment of their sins?

Lamentations 3:39 Meaning and Commentary

Lamentations 3:39

Wherefore doth a living man complain?
&c.] Or murmur, or fret and vex, or bemoan himself; all which the word F11 may signify; as the prophet had done in his own person; or as representing the church, ( Lamentations 3:1-19 ) ; and here checks himself for it; and especially since the mercies and compassions of God never fail, and are daily renewed; and the Lord himself is the portion of his people, ( Lamentations 3:23 Lamentations 3:24 ) ; and seeing he is good to them that seek him, and it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of God, and to bear the yoke patiently, ( Lamentations 3:25-27 ) ; and because of the unwillingness of God to afflict men, and his sympathy and compassion towards them under affliction, ( Lamentations 3:32 Lamentations 3:33 ) ; and especially since all is from the sovereignty of God, who does according to his will; and from whom all good and evil come, ( Lamentations 3:37 Lamentations 3:38 ) ; he is not to be complained of, or against, for anything he does; or to be murmured at; nor should men vex and fret themselves at their own adversity, or at the prosperity of others; or bemoan themselves, as if no case was like theirs, or so bad. It does not become "a man", a reasonable creature, a man grown up, to behave in this manner; as such should quit themselves like men, and conduct as such; a "man" that God is so mindful of, and cares for, and visits every moment, and follows with his goodness continually; a "man", sinful man, that has rendered himself unworthy of the least favour; and yet such is the lovingkindness, favour, and good will of God to man, that he has provided his own Son to be his Saviour; and therefore man, of all God's creatures, has no reason to complain of him; and is a "living" man too, in a natural sense; is upheld in life by the Lord, and has the common mercies of life; is in health, or however in the land of the living; out of hell, where he deserves to be; and therefore should praise, and not complain, ( Isaiah 38:19 ) ; especially if he is a living man in a spiritual sense; has a principle of spiritual life implanted in him; Christ lives in him, and his life is hid with him in God, and has a right and title to eternal life: a man for [the punishment] of his sins?
the word "punishment" is not in the text; but, admitting the supplement, if a man is a wicked man (and so the Targum interprets it), and is punished for his sins, no injustice is done him; he has no reason to complain; and especially of his punishment in this world, which is greatly less than his sins deserve, ( Ezra 9:13 ) ; and if he is a good man, and is chastised for his sins, he ought not to complain "for the chastisement" of them; since it is the chastisement of a father, is in love, and for his good: but the words may be rendered literally, "a man for", or "of his sins" F12; and be considered as a distinct clause, and as an answer to the former, so Jarchi; if a man will complain, let him complain of his sins; of the corruptions of his heart; of the body of sin and death he carries about with him of his daily iniquities; let him mourn over them, and bemoan himself for them; and if he does this in an evangelic manner, he is happy; for he shall be comforted.


F11 (Nnwaty) (goggusei) Sept. "quiritaretur", Junius & Tremellius; "taedio se confecit", Calvin; "fremet", Strigelius; "murmurabit", Cocceius.
F12 (wajx le rbg) "unusquisque propter sua peccata [quiritatur]", Piscator; "vel contra sua peccata fremat", Strigelius.

Lamentations 3:39 In-Context

37 Who can command and have it done, if the Lord has not ordained it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?
39 Why should any who draw breath complain about the punishment of their sins?
40 Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord.
41 Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands to God in heaven.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.