|@August 17, 2023||ESV (2016)||ESV Prophets Plan 2023|
- The Lord Has Destroyed Without Pity
The chapter opens with the Lord’s anger set against Israel and that He had cast down her splendor “from heaven to earth”. Israel’s splendor (or “glory” in the CSB) is a metaphor used for the temple as the site of God’s earthly dwelling. That this glory had been cast down must mean that the temple of God had been destroyed.
Lam. 2:2-3 describes how the Lord brought down the 1) habitations of Judah, 2) strongholds of the daughter of Judah and 3) the (earthly) kingdom and its rulers. All was swallowed up as God cut down the might of Israel and withdrew His right hand from them. God’s right hand represents His presence, power and protection.
In Lam. 2:4-6, God is portrayed as an enemy to the daughter of Zion with the fury of fire. Peace had been replaced by mourning and lamentation and Zion had forgotten festival and Sabbath. God’s indignation spurned both king and priest. (Lam. 2:6)
Lam. 2:7 depicts how God not only rejected the temple with its altar and sanctuary, but also the walls of her palaces. God destroyed every aspect of Jerusalem; the royal palace, state buildings, and temple.
Lam. 2:8 recounts the destruction of the ramparts and walls of the daughter of Zion. The ruin leaves Jerusalem defenseless, with the result that her king and leaders now live among the nations after they are hauled off in exile.
In Lam. 2:9-10, the prophets are described as no longer able to see visions from the LORD. Another sign of God’s judgment is that His instruction and vision had been removed from them. In their despair, the elders and young women sat silently on the ground, clothed in sackcloth and dust, symbolizing extreme distress and mourning (Lam. 2:10).
In Lam. 2:11, the phrase “my bile is poured out to the ground” is used. The word “bile” is also translated as “heart”, making this an expression of inner emotional turmoil at the infants and babies who were fainting “in the streets of the city.”
Lam. 2:14 refers to the false prophets that had come on the scene and how they had seen for them “false and deceptive visions”. They were being called out for not properly exposing the iniquity of the people and for seeing oracles that are “false and misleading.”
Lam. 2:15-17 is of the mocking and jeering of Jerusalem by its surrounding regions and the boasting of her enemies. Her foes gnashed their teeth and cried out that they were now seeing the day they had longed for. (Lam. 2:16). However, despite this gloating, the destruction of Judah was not due to their power and cunning but by God’s decree that He “has done what he purposed”. (Lam. 2:17)
Lam. 2:19-20 is a call to cry out to the LORD and a plea for His response. They were to pour their heart out like water to Him (similar to the “bile”/”heart” poured out in Lam. 2:11) starting with the first watch—from sunset to 10:00 PM. The appeal to God is then for Him to see with whom He had dealt and that the conditions had become so desperate that people fought over whose child should be eaten (see Jer. 19:9; Ezekiel 5:10)
The final verse (Lam. 2:22) describes Jerusalem’s enemies as her “terrors on every side”. This is another phrase reminiscent of Jeremiah (see Jer. 6:25; Jer. 20:3). They had been summoned to come against Jerusalem “as if to a festival day”.
The repetition of the heart and/or bile being poured out seemed fitting for reflection in today’s passage. Jeremiah urged the people in various ways to cry out to the LORD and to lift up their hands to Him. He wanted for them to give Him all their attention and to ascribe to Him the praise due His name.
We can pour ourselves into so many things in this world. I think of all the things I have done in the past, giving my whole heart to a particular practice, discipline or hobby. I would become so fixated and focused on one thing that it became my everything. Attention and recognition would come from others, but never lasting. And no matter how much energy I dedicated, there was always more, always another level to achieve.
It took a series of difficult life circumstances (God’s grace in action) to realize how I had been pouring myself into all the wrong things. Spouse, job, hobbies…all good things, but none worthy of our whole heart. There is only One deserving of our everything, only One who pours into us as we pour into Him. In pursuing Jesus, there is fullness of satisfaction, a journey that ends in our standing before Him, in awe of our Creator and our hearts brimming with joy.
Scripture Journal Notes
Commentaries & Resources Used
- ESV Study Bible. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008)
- Faithlife Study Bible (Lexham Press, 2016)
- Believer’s Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 2016)
- CSB Study Bible Notes (Holman Bible Publishers, 2017)
- Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Guardian Press, 1976)
- The Bible: A Reader’s Guide (Sterling Publishing, 2011)
- The Infographic Bible (Zondervan, 2018)
- ESV Digital Scripture Journal (Crossway, 2019)