Lamentations

AUGUST 13, 2014

AUTHOR: Not stated but traditionally attributed to Jeremiah.

DATE: Probably around 586 BC, shortly after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.

IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: A despairing poem about the destruction of Jerusalem.

DETAILS: After warning the southern Jewish nation to obey God, the prophet Jeremiah witnesses the punishment he’d threatened. Judah’s “enemies prosper; for the Lord hath affected her for the multitude of her transgressions,” writes Jeremiah, “her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.” (1:5) The sight brings tears to Jeremiah’s eyes (“Mine eye runneth down with water,” (1:16) and provides his nickname, “the weeping prophet.” Lamentations ends with a plaintive cry: “Thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us.” (5:22)

QUOTABLE: Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old. (5:21)

UNIQUE AND UNUSAL: Though Lamentations doesn’t indicate its author, Jeremiah is described in 2 Chronicles as a composer of laments (35:25).

SO WHAT: God’s punishment might seem severe, but as the book of Hebrews says, “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (12:11).