Lamentations 4

1 How the gold has grown dim, how the pure gold is changed! The sacred stones lie scattered at the head of every street.
2 The precious children of Zion, worth their weight in fine gold— how they are reckoned as earthen pots, the work of a potter's hands!
3 Even the jackals offer the breast and nurse their young, but my people has become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.
4 The tongue of the infant sticks to the roof of its mouth for thirst; the children beg for food, but no one gives them anything.
5 Those who feasted on delicacies perish in the streets; those who were brought up in purple cling to ash heaps.
6 For the chastisement of my people has been greater than the punishment of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, though no hand was laid on it.
7 Her princes were purer than snow, whiter than milk; their bodies were more ruddy than coral, their hair like sapphire.
8 Now their visage is blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets. Their skin has shriveled on their bones; it has become as dry as wood.
9 Happier were those pierced by the sword than those pierced by hunger, whose life drains away, deprived of the produce of the field.
10 The hands of compassionate women have boiled their own children; they became their food in the destruction of my people.
11 The Lord gave full vent to his wrath; he poured out his hot anger, and kindled a fire in Zion that consumed its foundations.
12 The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the inhabitants of the world, that foe or enemy could enter the gates of Jerusalem.
13 It was for the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed the blood of the righteous in the midst of her.
14 Blindly they wandered through the streets, so defiled with blood that no one was able to touch their garments.
15 "Away! Unclean!" people shouted at them; "Away! Away! Do not touch!" So they became fugitives and wanderers; it was said among the nations, "They shall stay here no longer."
16 The Lord himself has scattered them, he will regard them no more; no honor was shown to the priests, no favor to the elders.
17 Our eyes failed, ever watching vainly for help; we were watching eagerly for a nation that could not save.
18 They dogged our steps so that we could not walk in our streets; our end drew near; our days were numbered; for our end had come.
19 Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles in the heavens; they chased us on the mountains, they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
20 The Lord's anointed, the breath of our life, was taken in their pits— the one of whom we said, "Under his shadow we shall live among the nations."
21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter Edom, you that live in the land of Uz; but to you also the cup shall pass; you shall become drunk and strip yourself bare.
22 The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter Zion, is accomplished, he will keep you in exile no longer; but your iniquity, O daughter Edom, he will punish, he will uncover your sins.

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.

Footnotes 5

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO LAMENTATIONS 4

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