2 How the Lord has covered Daughter Zion
with the cloud of his anger!
He has hurled down the splendor of Israel
from heaven to earth;
he has not remembered his footstool
in the day of his anger.
2 Without pity the Lord has swallowed up
all the dwellings of Jacob;
in his wrath he has torn down
the strongholds of Daughter Judah.
He has brought her kingdom and its princes
down to the ground in dishonor.
3 In fierce anger he has cut off
every horn of Israel.
He has withdrawn his right hand
at the approach of the enemy.
He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire
that consumes everything around it.
4 Like an enemy he has strung his bow;
his right hand is ready.
Like a foe he has slain
all who were pleasing to the eye;
he has poured out his wrath like fire
on the tent of Daughter Zion.
5 The Lord is like an enemy;
he has swallowed up Israel.
He has swallowed up all her palaces
and destroyed her strongholds.
He has multiplied mourning and lamentation
for Daughter Judah.
6 He has laid waste his dwelling like a garden;
he has destroyed his place of meeting.
The Lord has made Zion forget
her appointed festivals and her Sabbaths;
in his fierce anger he has spurned
both king and priest.
7 The Lord has rejected his altar
and abandoned his sanctuary.
He has given the walls of her palaces
into the hands of the enemy;
they have raised a shout in the house of the Lord
as on the day of an appointed festival.
8 The Lord determined to tear down
the wall around Daughter Zion.
He stretched out a measuring line
and did not withhold his hand from destroying.
He made ramparts and walls lament;
together they wasted away.
9 Her gates have sunk into the ground;
their bars he has broken and destroyed.
Her king and her princes are exiled among the nations,
the law is no more,
and her prophets no longer find
visions from the Lord.
10 The elders of Daughter Zion
sit on the ground in silence;
they have sprinkled dust on their heads
and put on sackcloth.
The young women of Jerusalem
have bowed their heads to the ground.
11 My eyes fail from weeping,
I am in torment within;
my heart is poured out on the ground
because my people are destroyed,
because children and infants faint
in the streets of the city.
12 They say to their mothers,
“Where is bread and wine?”
as they faint like the wounded
in the streets of the city,
as their lives ebb away
in their mothers’ arms.
13 What can I say for you?
With what can I compare you,
To what can I liken you,
that I may comfort you,
Virgin Daughter Zion?
Your wound is as deep as the sea.
Who can heal you?
14 The visions of your prophets
were false and worthless;
they did not expose your sin
to ward off your captivity.
The prophecies they gave you
were false and misleading.
15 All who pass your way
clap their hands at you;
they scoff and shake their heads
at Daughter Jerusalem:
“Is this the city that was called
the perfection of beauty,
the joy of the whole earth?”
16 All your enemies open their mouths
wide against you;
they scoff and gnash their teeth
and say, “We have swallowed her up.
This is the day we have waited for;
we have lived to see it.”
17 The Lord has done what he planned;
he has fulfilled his word,
which he decreed long ago.
He has overthrown you without pity,
he has let the enemy gloat over you,
he has exalted the horn of your foes.
18 The hearts of the people
cry out to the Lord.
You walls of Daughter Zion,
let your tears flow like a river
day and night;
give yourself no relief,
your eyes no rest.
19 Arise, cry out in the night,
as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like water
in the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him
for the lives of your children,
who faint from hunger
at every street corner.
20 “Look, Lord, and consider:
Whom have you ever treated like this?
Should women eat their offspring,
the children they have cared for?
Should priest and prophet be killed
in the sanctuary of the Lord?
21 “Young and old lie together
in the dust of the streets;
my young men and young women
have fallen by the sword.
You have slain them in the day of your anger;
you have slaughtered them without pity.
22 “As you summon to a feast day,
so you summoned against me terrors on every side.
In the day of the Lord’s anger
no one escaped or survived;
those I cared for and reared
my enemy has destroyed.”
(Lamentations 2:1-22 NIV)
Similar to chapter 1, Lamentations chapter 2 is an acrostic poem written as a funeral song using the Hebrew alphabet.
Similar to chapter 1, the poem uses multiple voices. In this case, the voices are the poet as narrator/commentator, and the poet as himself. Here are the breakouts:
- verses 1-10 – Poet as Narrator
- verses 11-13 – Poet as Himself
- verses 14-19 – Poet as Narrator
- verses 20-22 – Poet as Himself
Notice that the poem’s frequent use of the term “Daughter” for the city of Jerusalem:
- Daughter Zion – verses 1, 4, 8, 10, 18
- Virgin Daughter Zion – verse 13
- Daughter Judah – verses 2, 5
- Daughter Jerusalem – verses 13, 15
The poem’s theme is largely God’s judgment on its leaders and the effect of their sin on the people. God’s judgment is against the king (verses 6, 9), the prophets (verses 9, 14, 20), and the priests (verses 6, 9, 20). The effects on the people are famine, destruction of the city, and removal of all defenses. The situation is so bad that the children are dying of starvation in their mothers’ arms (verse 12), and the mothers are eating their children to survive (verse 20).
So what can we learn from this funeral song, this deep lament? A few thoughts come to mind:
- We must not assume righteousness before God – He alone is holy.
- We don’t have invincibility before God – He alone is mighty.
- No thing or place is a safe haven – even God’s place of dwelling among His people.
- No one is indispensable to God – He did not spare His own Son.
May we take our bitterness of life, our pain, our sorrows, our complaints, and our tears to the Lord. As we voice our distress and grief to Him, He is faithful to hear and to heal.