The Book of Lamentations

From Issue: Discovery 9/1/2017

The verb form of the word for “lamentations” means “to cry aloud; to lament.” The word refers to the mourning process in which the mourner shows his sorrow by spoken words of deep sadness. Lamentations consists of five funeral poems, written in the style of a funeral song. Jeremiah is believed to have been Lamentations’ inspired writer, earning for him the reputation of “the weeping prophet.”

The first four poems of Lamentations follow an acrostic pattern. (Each verse begins with a word whose first letter corresponds in order with the Hebrew alphabet.) The third poem devotes three verses to each letter. The fifth poem is a final prayer.

Central Theme:

Lamentations mourns the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 586 B.C. The five poems form an intense expression of sorrow over the tragedy that has come upon Judah. It pleads for a better day when the people will be turned back to God and their lives renewed.

The book of Lamentations spotlights the proper attitude toward disobedience, punishment, and hope for mercy upon the penitent. Even in the midst of life’s tragedies, “through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him” (3:22-24).

1   Jerusalem’s devastated condition
2   Review of the Babylonian assault on Jerusalem and God’s wrath
3   Jeremiah’s sorrow and the comfort 
of God
4   Details about the siege of Jerusalem
5   Jeremiah’s prayer of confession and plea for the people


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