Today I finished reading Lamentations 5, the last chapter of the book. This is the first time that I really have understood a little of what the book of Lamentations is about. My exercise to record my daily reading of the Bible and write a few thoughts in this online journal has caused me to spend more time in reflection and thought about what I have read. I have included a small excerpt from D. A. Carson’s devotional book, For the Love of God, Volume Two, that shares such a wonderful understanding of my thoughts this morning:
“In this information-rich age, many of us have learned to be as brief as possible. …Efficient managers learn to be brief; computer programmers are rated on how briefly they can write precise code to do what needs to be done. Only a few contemporary authors (e.g., Tom Clancy and James Michener) get away with long, rambling books—and even then the editors have drastically trimmed them.
“Yet here we are, quietly reading through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, with Ezekiel to go, and we find ourselves circling around the same handful of themes again and again: sin in the covenant community, threatened judgment, then enacted judgment, first for the northern tribes, then for Judah. …But haven’t you caught yourself saying to yourself more than once, “I know this is the Word of God, and I know it is important, but I think I understand now something of the history and the theology of the exile. Couldn’t we get on to something else?” …So we scan another chapter as rapidly as possible because we already “know” all this.
“But that is part of the problem, isn’t it? Read through this chapter again, slowly, thoughtfully. …But listen to the depth and persistence of the pleas, the repentance, the personal engagement with God, the cultural awareness, the acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty and justice, the profound recognition that the people must be restored to God himself if return to the land is to be possible, let alone meaningful (5:21). Then compare this with the brands of Christian confessionalism with which you are most familiar. In days of cultural declension, moral degradation, and large-scale ecclesiastical frittering, is our praying like that of Lamentations 5? Have the themes of the major prophets so burned into our minds and hearts that our passion is to be restored to the living God? Or have we ourselves become so caught up in the spirit of this age that we are content to be rich in information and impoverished in wisdom and godliness?” 1
The first few words of the author are “Remember, O Lord…” (Lam. 5:1). Could God forget? Obviously the answer is “no”, but the author is expressing the repentant heart and pleading heart that proceeds suffering.
One verse that literally jumped off of the page this morning was Lamentations 5:15. It literally is the inverse of Psalm 30:11, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,”. God indeed, has power over our deepest emotion and He alone can take ruin, suffering, and pain and redeem it for His glory.
Lam. 5:19 acknowledges the eternal rock-steady power of God over all things. Lam. 5:21 is a prayer and request for restoration from the only One who can restore us. It is my prayer this morning.
Psalm 36 is a short psalm that begins with a description of the wicked (Ps.36:1-4). The balance of the song teaches us about the steadfast (enduring) love of God. I think it is the text of a song by the group Third Day, “Your Love Oh Lord”. I could hear that song while I read these verses. References to God’s “steadfast love” are repeated three times in Ps. 36:5, Ps. 36:7, and Ps. 36:10.
1 Carson, D. A. For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word. Vol. 2. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998. Print.