This book is written by Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, hence the word, "Lamentations." It's not exactly a happy book (no, duh!), but there are some great thoughts expressed!
1:7 In the midst of her sadness and wandering, Jerusalem remembers her ancient splendor. But now she has fallen to her enemy, and there is no one to help her. One thing I find cool now that we have the span of history and the unfolding of prophecy (which they didn't have), is how we can compare and contrast people, places, and things. Contrast the old Jerusalem with the New Jerusalem! It is completely a picture of the redemption process, much like we saw with Babylon a couple days ago. The old Jerusalem of the flesh (sin) has lost her glory, but the New Jerusalem of the Spirit has found all her glory in recapturing what is lost.
1:8-9 Jerusalem has sinned greatly, so she has been tossed away like a filthy rag. ... She defiled herself with immorality and gave no thought to her future. Now she lies in the gutter with no one to lift her out. "Lord, see my misery," she cries. "The enemy has triumphed." Here we see that contrast again of the Jerusalem of the flesh-the once virgin bride that has been discarded because of her immorality. It is apparent why she must be thrown away as a filthy rag. However, in the New Jerusalem, she will be clothed in linen clean and new, restored once again as the virgin Bride of Jesus!
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Rev. 19:7-8 Isn't that positively inspiring?
1:14-15, 18 (selected) "He wove my sins into ropes to hitch me to a yoke of captivity. The Lord has trampled his beloved city like grapes are trampled in a winepress. ...The Lord is right," Jerusalem says, "for I rebelled against him." Here Jerusalem is speaking. I love the pictures of the woven ropes of captivity...isn't it true? Also, notice the reference to the grape harvest reserved for the unbelievers and the hypocrites. And in the end, Jerusalem knows she deserves her treatment and accepts responsibility for her punishment.
2:1 The Lord in his anger has cast a dark shadow over beautiful Jerusalem. The fairest of Israel's cities lies in the dust, thrown down from the heights of heaven. In his day of great anger, the Lord has shown no mercy even to his Temple. Compare versions:
(NASB) How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion With a cloud in His anger! He has cast from heaven to earth The glory of Israel, And has not remembered His footstool In the day of His anger. There are quite a few differences, but the "footstool" being substituted with "Temple" seems like a significant change.
2:3-4 He consumes the whole land of Israel like a raging fire. ...His fury is poured out like fire on beautiful Jerusalem. By the way, it's bugging me that NLT keeps using "beautiful Jerusalem" instead of the Greek "daughter of Zion." It seems quite slanted. But reading these verses today, I had an interesting thought. If things in the natural world are to teach us about the spiritual realm (which they do), I wonder what we can learn about fire? In the natural world, fire only burns as long as there is something to consume. Fire must be fed. Some things do not burn in fire, like metals (only the impurities in the metals), glass, rocks, etc. Other things burn at different rates. But once the consumable part of the item in the fire is gone, the fire goes out.
For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down. Pr. 26:20
Behold, I am making My words in your mouth fire and this people wood, and it will consume them. Jer. 5:14
Most of the idols in the OT are described as wood, whereas God is described as a consuming fire. I wonder, since Egypt is the land of slavery to sin, if this verse is describing the works of man in their sin (before the work of Christ): So the people scattered through all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. Ex. 5:12
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1 Cor. 3:11-15
2:6-8 (check out the verses on sovereignty): He has broken down his Temple as though it were merely a garden shelter (6). The Lord has rejected his own altar; he despises his own sanctuary. He has given Jerusalem's palaces to her enemies (7). The Lord was determined to destroy the walls of beautiful Jerusalem. He made careful plans for their destruction, then did what he had planned. Therefore, the ramparts and walls have fallen down before him. How did He do it? He used armies from other nations (namely the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians)! He used captivity and destruction. People get so bent out of shape these days if you even suggest that "God did it," yet time and again, I see Him taking full responsibility for ALL of the goings-on of His-story! It's not for pointless punishment, but to accomplish "The Plan."
2:11-22 The siege of 587 B.C. I did a little study tonight and found some interesting historical facts. I have always thought Jeremiah was prophesying about a future siege, but it turns out he was describing one shortly after he lived through it! The siege of which he writes took place from 589-587, and Lamentations was written in 586. Of course there was another siege in 70 AD, but this is not what Jeremiah was writing about. As far as I could tell, these were the two main sieges of Jerusalem in history.
2:14 Your prophets have said so many foolish things, false to the core. They did not save you from exile by pointing out your sins. Instead, they painted false pictures, filling you with false hope. I have always said that prophets that speak blessing and peace only are usually false! People are sinful through and through, so a true prophet always has plenty of doom and gloom to declare. But if they declare blessings alone, they are not doing anyone any favors.
2:15 All who pass by jeer at you. They scoff and insult beautiful Jerusalem, saying, "Is this the city called ‘Most Beautiful in All the World' and ‘Joy of All the Earth'?" It will be again one day (only not the same literal Jerusalem but the spiritual one)! It will be the difference between man's version of beauty and God's version of beauty. No comparison.
2:17 (NASB) The LORD has done what He purposed; He has accomplished His word Which He commanded from days of old. He has thrown down without sparing, And He has caused the enemy to rejoice over you; He has exalted the might of your adversaries. Again, we see God taking credit for this event "just as He purposed."
2:18 Cry aloud before the Lord, O walls of [the daughter of Zion]! Let your tears flow like a river day and night. Give yourselves no rest; give your eyes no relief. This "no rest day and night" made me think of a verse in Revelation:
"...and the smoke of their torment [Greek "basanismos": a testing by the touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the color of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal] doth go up to ages of ages; and they have no rest day and night, who are bowing before the beast and his image, also if any doth receive the mark of his name. Rev. 14:11 (YLT) Notice that the Greek is in present tense of those worshiping the beast. I don't know what this means exactly...if it is describing them in the ages now and later, or if they will be worshiping the beast in the lake of fire.
2:20 "O Lord, think about this! Should you treat your own people this way? Should mothers eat their own children, those they once bounced on their knees? NAS says, "The little ones who were born healthy." Either way, I can't even imagine being that desperate that a mother would consider such a thing!
2:21 (NAS) You have slain them in the day of Your anger, You have slaughtered, not sparing. NLT says, "without mercy." Quite a difference from the gleeful damnation folks over at NLT.
1:15-16 (NAS) For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother... This verse brought me great comfort over my sister who left the family to join a cult. She is currently a slave, but someday will be a beloved sister in a deeper way than ever. Perhaps this is how we should view all of our prodigals!
101:6-8 My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me. He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me. Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land, So as to cut off from the city of the LORD all those who do iniquity. I couldn't help but see the Messianic (MK) prophecy in this passage!