The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5

Lamentations 5

Lam 5:1

REMEMBER: Cp Lam 1:20; 2:20; 3:19; Psa 89:50,51. The fervent prayer of a righteous man (Jam 5:16); the prayer of Hezekiah (Isa 37:14-20); prayer for the peace of Jerusalem (Psa 122:6).

SEE OUR DISGRACE: Rt wd "autumn" or "ripeness", perhaps sig the fullness of iniquity -- as the wicked reap what they have sown (Gal 6:7). Note that Jeremiah accepts partial responsibility for the sins of his nation.

Is it far-fetched to suppose that, in His mercy, God might bring such reproaches on His Ecclesia before it is too late? Loss of homes and wealth, break-up of families, destitution... But the flesh's failure can become the Spirit's successes. And if we as God's children need the lesson reinforced that we are still "strangers and pilgrims" on the earth, with no permanent dwelling-place, and no "fine prospects" in this wicked generation -- then, most assuredly, God will see that it is done.

Lam 5:2

OUR INHERITANCE: The promised land (Gen 13:15; Lev 26:5,6), a land of milk and honey (Exo 3:8; Lev 20:24), given only temporarily and conditionally to the nation of Israel -- if they followed God (Jer 3:19). But the same inheritance is promised eternally to us: still, "our inheritance" may also be turned over to "strangers" if we are rejected at judgment seat (Mat 25:41).

Lam 5:3

ORPHANS AND FATHERLESS: God had been the Father to Israel (Psa 68:5; 103:13; Jer 31:9,10), but no longer.

Lam 5:4

The Jews, as a result of the captivity, are now so degraded that they must buy from usurping strangers what was once their own property.

WE MUST BUY THE WATER WE DRINK: Judah is forced to buy her water, because she had rejected the true and living "water" (Isa 8:6; 55:1; Joh 4:10; 7:37); that is, she had rejected God, the fountain of living waters (Jer 2:13,18; 17:3).

OUR WOOD CAN BE HAD ONLY AT A PRICE: Ct Isa 55:1: "without money"! But the Jews spurned the invitation of the gospel (Rev 21:6; 22:1,17).

Lam 5:5

Lit, as AV, "Our necks are under persecution." The Jews, a stiff-necked people (2Ch 30:8; Isa 48:4), were downtrodden (Psa 66:12; Isa 51:23). Cp Lam 1:14; 3:34; 4:19.

Lam 5:6

WE SUBMITTED: Lit, "we have given the hand", in submission (Jer 50:15, AV), or in begging (extending the hand: ct Deu 15:6), or in agreement (making a pact: cp Eze 17:18; idea in Jer 2:18,36; Hos 7:11; 12:1).

EGYPT: After Josiah's death (c 608 BC), Egypt deposed his son Jehoahaz, and crowned Jehoiakin (2Ch 36:3,4).

ASSYRIA: Or Babylon, which occupied their former lands (cp Jer 2:18). Cp also LAST DAYS Assyrian!

Lam 5:7

The nation has at last recognized the reason for God's heavy hand upon them, the same hand which fell upon their fathers. Cp Zec 1:5,6.

WE BEAR THEIR PUNISHMENT: The Jews had filled up the measure of their fathers (Mat 23:32). Although every man bears personal responsibility for his own actions, it is also true that national sins are often unpunished for a time, and judgment is stored up until a later date, when it all falls at once (Gen 15:13-16; 1Ki 21:26; 2Ki 24:20; Exo 20:5; Jer 32:18).

Lam 5:8

Israel did not heed God's command to drive out the Canaanites (Jos 16:10), who remained in the land and mightily oppressed them. One of 4 things earth cannot bear: "a servant (slave) who becomes king" (Pro 30:21,22); a sad fact evidenced again in Israel's history when those ruthless Roman "slaves", the Edomite Herods, reigned! Also, the governors soon to rule in the Land (Neh 5:15).

Lam 5:9

Ct Jews in wilderness, who for 40 years gathered bread each day (Exo 16:4...).

Lam 5:10

OUR SKIN IS HOT: Or "black" (AV). Affliction, persecution, wandering (Song 1:5,6; Psa 119:83; Lam 4:8), famine (Rev 6:5,6).

OVEN: Egypt = iron furnace (Deu 4:20). Here, fiery persecution of the Jews.

Lam 5:11

Predicted in Deu 28:30,32; Jer 6:12. Israel's latter day enemies will do this (Zec 14:2). But God sees and remembers, and will punish (as in Isa 13:16; Psa 137:7-9).

Lam 5:12

HUNG UP BY THEIR HANDS: Prob impaling after death. Thus, falling under a curse (Deu 21:23; Gal 3:13).


Lam 5:13

The young men grind, a low and menial task, usually assigned to female slaves (Exo 11:5; Isa 47:2) or other women (Mat 24:41). The Philistines could think of no greater degradation with which to torment their blinded former nemesis Samson (Jdg 16:21).

Lam 5:14

THE ELDERS ARE GONE FROM THE CITY GATE: Counsel (as Rth 4:1), as well as social and commercial activity (as Job 29:7; Pro 31:23), had ceased. A reversal of the status that had existed previously: Deu 21:19; 22:15; 25:7; Josh 20:4; Rth 4:11; Pro 31:23.

Lam 5:15

JOY IS GONE FROM OUR HEARTS; OUR DANCING HAS TURNED TO MOURNING: A reversal of Psa 30:11. Jeremiah was inspired to do this on purpose -- to make the point even more forcibly.

Now was the "time to weep" (Ecc 3:4), as Nehemiah was to mourn when he later saw the city lying waste (Neh 2:2,3). But "joy comes in the morning" (Psa 30:5,11), and "they that sow in tears shall reap in joy" (Psa 126:5,6).

Lam 5:16

THE CROWN HAS FALLEN: Sym royalty, fallen (Eze 21:26; Psa 89:39; Hos 3:4) because Israel had rejected God (1Sa 8:7). Also, sym obedience to the Truth (Rev 2:10; 3:11), dedication and priesthood (Exo 28:36-38), grievously lacking in Israel.

Lam 5:17

Cp Lam 1:22; 2:11.

Lam 5:18

MOUNT ZION: The center of all true Jewish hopes (Isa 2:2-4; 24:23; Psa 133:3).

JACKALS PROWLING OVER IT: Cp Psa 63:10. Unclean scavengers, representing the unclean nations who "walk upon" the hope of Israel.

Lam 5:19

This is the one means by which the Jews' sorrowful condition may be changed: God's kingdom was once on earth (1Ch 28:5; 2Ch 13:8), and it will be reestablished (2Sa 7:12-16; Act 1:6; Zec 14:16) as His throne (Jer 3:17).

Lam 5:20

FOREVER: Lit "for the age" (Eur 1:127-130). The age is evidently this age: the time of the Gentiles, the prophetic period now drawing to a close.

Lam 5:21

A quotation from Jer 31:18. True humility at last! A recognition that, as the punishments came from God, so forgiveness must come from Him as well, and repentance and renewal of purpose, by His grace and strength, will follow. It is vain to lament the past if our grief does not help us to make the future better, by seeking help from the one unfailing Source.

RENEW OUR DAYS AS OF OLD: "As in the days of old" (Mal 3:3,4).

Lam 5:22

In Heb mss, v 21 is usually repeated after v 22 -- so as to close the Book on a more positive note (the same type of repetition is found in some Heb mss at the end of Isa, Eccl, and Mal).

UNLESS...: But God is not necessarily angry forever (ie Lam 3:31-33). There will yet be opportunity for Israel to repent (Psa 24:9,10; Rom 11:26; Mat 23:39).
Previous Index