Lamentations- Originally the title of the book was “Ah, how!” from the Hebrew words ‘ek ah.
This short book is not connected to a specific author or prophet, however, tradition puts it in the lap of Jeremiah. It is mainly composed of funeral songs for Jerusalem. Since Jeremiah does not deport in the exile, he has time to survey the damage left by the departure of the presence of Father. The year is 586 B.C., the Babylonian King is furious with his Vassal Zedekiah who would not keep his word. The temple is completely sacked and the city is left in piles of rubble. The people weep from the feeling that God has abandoned them. The poems show the people’s sense of guilt, confession, and repentance as they realize how deeply they have hurt God by their sin and unfaithfulness.
Structure- The book is made up of five chapters or sections. Each of the sections is an acrostic, meaning that the Hebrew alphabet is used to start each verse or line of the section. So verse 1 is starts with the letter ‘a’, verse 2 starts with the letter ‘b’, verse 3 starts with the letter ‘c’, and so on. Since there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, you see the number of verses in chapters 1, 2, 4, and 5. The only one which is different is chapter 3 which repeats the pattern three times, hence the 66 verses. Also look for patterns of three. Either three lines in each verse or three verses clumped together.
The laments express the full impact of the covenant curses and prophetic pronouncements of judgments at the horror of the people’s loss is realized. The city was the place God had chosen for his temple to be built and his presence to be manifest. Its destruction represents not only the loss of homes and life but also the abandonment of the people by God. He withdrew his presence and his favor as he said he would if the people were unfaithful.
Lament targets not only one’s situation but one’s spiritual condition.
Any circumstance in life can provide an opportunity to know God better.
The highlight of the book is in chapter 3 where, in first-person form, the full grief of the poet is revealed. He gives voice to the despair of the corporate people and the personified city. But at the bottom of his grief he turns to the unfailing faithfulness of the LORD and his compassion toward his people. The call to repentance anticipates God’s acts of deliverance and mercy for his people and judgment on the enemies who carried out the destruction. The book ends in a fervent prayer of restoration.
Key Teachings about God-
God’s wrath is terrible.
God is righteous and will judge.
God’s faithfulness and compassion never fail.
God is good to those who hope in him.
The key verses of hope are found in 3:22-27 “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassion’s never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’ The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.”