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Lamentations

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Perhaps the best introduction to this book is a poem written in 1923 by Thomas Chisholm, #43 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”. Based on Lam. 3:23, this song captures many powerful truths about God:

O God My Father (Mt. 6:9)

There Is No Shadow… (Js. 1:17)

Thou Changest Not (Heb. 1:12)

Thy Compassion… (Lam. 3:22)

Jeremiah[1] sits down and looks over the smoldering  ruins of his beloved Jerusalem. His voice rises into the wail of sorrow – a lament. His funeral dirge over the city of God, inspired by the Spirit of God is a message for all the people of God.

This book is a master crafted poem with five stanzas. Chapters 1, 2, 4 and 5 each start with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet, 22 in all. This form of poetry called an acrostic ic beautiful in form and powerful in communication. Chapter 3 is the centerpiece of this poem, with three 22 verse acrostics making it 66 verses long. The theme of the book and this middle chapter agree, as Jeremiah discovers – GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS our Great Lord! 

I.                     First Dirge: Jerusalem’s Desolation because of Her Sin (chap. 1)

A.                 Jeremiah’s lament over Jerusalem’s desolation (1:1-11)

B.                 Jerusalem’s plea for mercy (1:12-22)

II.                   Second Dirge: God’s Punishment of Jerusalem’s Sin (chap. 2)

A.                 God’s anger (2:1-10)

B.                 Jeremiah’s grief (2:11-19)

C.                Jerusalem’s plea (2:20-22)

III.                  Third Dirge: Jeremiah’s Response (chap. 3)

A.                 Jeremiah’s afflictions (3:1-18)

B.                 Jeremiah’s hope (3:19-40)

C.                Jeremiah’s prayer (3:41-66)

IV.               Fourth Dirge: The Lord’s Anger (chap. 4)

A.                 Contrast before and after the siege (4:1-11)

B.                 Causes for the siege (4:12-20)

C.                Call for vindication (4:21-22)

V.                 Fifth Dirge: The Remnant’s Response (chap. 5)

A.                 The remnant’s prayer for remembrance (5:1-18)

B.                 The remnant’s prayer for restoration (5:19-22) 

VI.               Chapter one contains an astounding commentary on Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  There is no SECURITY apart from the LORD.  Jerusalem the city portrays the state of Jerusalem the people chosen by God. Note these grim reminders:

A.                 NO COMFORT  In v.2 “none to comfort” yet the Lord offered comfort continually to His people.

1.                  Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (KJV) This is the very same word asLam. 1:2.

2.                  Psalm 119:50     This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. (KJV)

3.                  Psalm 119:76     Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant. (KJV)

4.                  Psalm 119:82 Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me? (KJV)

5.                  Isaiah 40:1     Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. (KJV)

6.                  Jesus always has offered enduring comfort.   John 15:26     But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (KJV)

B.                 NO REST   In v. 3 “no rest” was found by Jerusalem, yet the Lord offered and promised His rest:

1.                  Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. (KJV)

2.                  Isaiah 57:20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. (KJV)

3.                  Isaiah 30:15 For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. (KJV)

4.                  Psalm 37:7     Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. (KJV)

5.                  Psalm 16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. (KJV)

6.                  Exodus 33:14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. (KJV)

C.                NO REFRESHMENT  In v. 6 “no pasture” yet the Lord promises to feed His people:

1.                  Psalm 23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (KJV)

2.                  Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. (KJV)

3.                  Psalm 81:16 He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee. (KJV)

4.                  Isaiah 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (KJV)

VII.              Afflictions God can handle:

A.                 Broken Health     Lamentations 3:4 My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. (KJV)

B.                 Emotional Weakness      Lamentations 3:5 He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail. (KJV)

C.                Feeling Trapped    Lamentations 3:7 He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy. (KJV)

D.                Feeling out of Touch and left behind    Lamentations 3:8 Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.   (KJV)

E.                 Anxiety  and Sadness  Lamentations 3:17 And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity.  (KJV)

F.                 Physical Weakness    Lamentations 3:18 And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: (KJV)

G.                Hopelessness    Lamentations 3:18 And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: (KJV)

VIII.            Hope our Faithful God offers:

A.                 STRONG HOPE Lamentations 3:22 It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. (KJV)

B.                 FRESH HOPE Lamentations 3:23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (KJV)

C.                PERSONAL HOPE Lamentations 3:24 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. (KJV)

D.                SELECTIVE HOPE Lamentations 3:25 The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. (KJV)

E.                 QUIET HOPE Lamentations 3:26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. (KJV)

F.                 TIMELY HOPE HOPE Lamentations 3:27 It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. (KJV)

IX.               The Scriptures are filled with HOPE:

A.                 HOPE UNLOCKS DIVINE STRENGTH Psalm 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. (KJV)

B.                 HOPE ATTRACTS GOD’S ATTENTION  Psalm 33:18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; (KJV)

C.                HOPE OPENS GOD’S EARS  Psalm 38:15 For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God. (KJV)

D.                HOPE IS GOD’S DESIRE FOR US  Psalm 39:7     And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee. (KJV)

E.                 HOPE DISPELS GLOOM  Psalm 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance; 11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God; 43:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. (KJV)

F.                 HOPE IS GOD IS TO BE LIFELONG  Psalm 71:5 For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth; 14     But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. (KJV)

G.                HOPE IS A CHOICE  Psalm 78:7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: (KJV)

H.                 HOPE IN HIS WORD  Psalm 119:49     ZAIN. Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. (KJV) Also v. 81, 114, 116.

I.                     HOPE IN YOUR CREATOR  Psalm 146:5-6     Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: 6 Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever: (KJV)

Last year Americans spent billions trying to escape Depression. Our society is awash in self-help and recovery programs. Every year the self help section of book sales increases. The cults teach self-actualization and self-realization. But in spite of all that, most Americans face the onslaughts of a regular visit from depression in its varying forms. 

Even we as Christians face the same. Is there any recovery program that works? Yes, GOD’S RECOVERY PROGRAM IS SANCTIFICATION.  In His Word he gives us a plan of attack, on this all to often besetting foe.

Turn with me in your Divine Instruction Manual for some perfect advice from the Spirit of God. Its in Psalm 119:25-32 lets read it together. 

IS OVERCOMING DEPRESSION POSSIBLE? 

Yes! In this fourth stanza of God’s song on the power of the Scriptures, we find another application God’s Word has in our lives. The other three stanza taught: 

#1  (v. 1-8)  Speaks of the establishing power of God’s Word.

#2  (v. 9-16)  Explains the purifying power of God’s Word.

#3 (v. 17-24)  Demonstrates the illuminating power  of  God’s Word.

#4 (v. 25-32)  gives us the refreshing power of God’s Word…

OVERCOMING DISCOURAGEMENT AND LONELINESS    Ps. 119:25-32

Briefly  stated,  how does God’s Word help us to  be quickened” (AV) or “revived” (ASV)? David gives his own testimony in Psalm 119. He states his battle plan for Overcoming Depression in four clear couplets:

     v. 25-26  By Confessing his condition

     v. 27-28  By Searching for strength

     v. 29-30  By Turning to the truth

     v. 31-32  By Holding on to hope 

Confess your condition to the right Person Ps.19:25-26

David is here in the depths depression.  At this point our society would conclude the only hope is a psychiatrist! Though people may at times need to be helped by Christian psychiatrist, that’s not God’s instruction…there are few if any problems in life God’s Word can’t handle! The word “quicken” means ‘to put new life in’. Its like a stiff dose of Scripture taken  mixed with faith daily!  Have you tried that?

Confessing all your woes to Christ is best – He is most interested! Look at Psalm 142 and see David at one of his lowest points. He is comforted by God.

Search for strength in the right place! Ps. 119:27-28

David is here Pursuing the only source of hope again. This was illustrated in the life of David. I Samuel 22:1-2 is the setting for Psalm 142 and the Cave of Adullam. What a great help that Psalm is when we are hurting.

In his earlier life we see David in great distress. David’s problems in I Samuel 24 are the backdrop as he searches for strength in Psalm 57. He finds  it in God Himself.  Remember, he is in a weak time in life. This is when depression often hits. 

Psalm 57:1-3  Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me; For my soul taketh refuge in thee: Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I take refuge, Until these calamities be overpast. 2 I will cry unto God Most High, Unto God that performeth all things for me. 3 He will send from heaven, and save me, When he that would swallow me up reproacheth; Selah God will send forth his loving kindness and his truth. (ASV)

His hope is in finding God very strong. 

Psalm 57:1-11

Note how he doubles three aspects of God’s nature. 

Psalm 57:1  Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. And in v.7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.  (NIV)

He finds: God is Gracious, God is Steadfast, God is Praise Worthy. With this truth to hold onto, he testifies that it works. And he  gets his focus off  his troubles.  He went beyond his cave world and onto Lord!! 

Psalm 57:11  Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth. (KJV) 

Finally David shares two last thoughts. He Conquered Depression: 

Turn to the truth as the right priority  v. 29-30 

More than any other source of comfort, he chooses God’s truth. 

Hold on to hope as the right perspective   v. 31-32 

More than any self pity or gloom, he clings to the Lord. As a NT writer Paul reminds us: 

Romans 5:1-5  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (KJV)

Lamentations also parallels the life of Christ. He was a Isaiah 53:3  “. . .  man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. . .”. Like Christ Jeremiah was afflicted (1:12; 3:19), despised and abused by his enemies (2:15, 16; 3:14, 30).


[1] Sources used are: The Word of God; Baxter, Explore the Book; Scroggie, The Unfolding Drama; Christ in all the Scriptures; The Criswell Study Bible; Walk through the Bible; The Compact Guide to The Bible, Lehman Strauss, CHM, .

 
 
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