Lamentations 1 Affliction Without A Comforter.
The genre of Lamentations is obviously poetry, but there are similarities in expression that we find in Jeremiah. “The idea of Jeremiah as the author may have been encouraged by 2 Chr.. 35:25, where we are told that the prophet composed laments for King Josiah, sometimes seeming to be spoken by an individual (ch. 3) and sometimes by a community (ch. 5), it may be that the poems come from different pens. The setting is clearly Judah, particularly Jerusalem, and almost certainly the period after the fall of the kingdom of Judah to the Babylonians in 586 B.C. and before the restoration of exiles in 538 B.C. The lament concerning the loss of Judah’s king (2:2, 9), in distinction from other devastations of Jerusalem, fixes this occasion for the laments. A setting during the period of the Babylonian exile makes Lamentations a fitting sequel to the Book of Jeremiah. As Jeremiah had foretold the fall of Jerusalem, Lamentations expresses the pain of the event itself.” (NGSB. 1240)
In this first of five laments, the condition of Jerusalem during the exile is depicted as a lonely place. It was once full of people, but now she was like a widow. She was great among the nations, a princess, but was now a slave (v. 1). The church, at various times in her history, has been a lonely remnant, weeping for what once was (v. 2). At times she seems to be in captivity, “under affliction and hard servitude”, finding no rest, all her persecutors overtaking her in dire straits (v. 3). It can also be a bitter condition (v. 4). However, these persecutors are but the means or instruments of the LORD’s affliction (v. 5). “All her splendor has departed,” as she “remembers all her pleasant things.” (vv. 6-7) “Jerusalem has sinned gravely” (v. 8), “she did not consider her destiny.” (v. 9a) There was no comforter (v. 2, 9b). However, her enemies did the unthinkable, they entered the sanctuary (v. 10). When God is angry, and affliction comes, it is a time of sorrow (vv. 11-12).
The prophet himself was lonely, but with fire in his bones sent by the LORD (v. 13). Jeremiah had worn a yoke to show the captivity that was to come, and now he prays as for the city, that it is also their sin that remains as a yoke too much to bear (vv. 14-15). She wept because there was no comforter, she had become an unclean thing (vv. 16-17). As an unclean thing Judah “falsifies her intended role as a witness to the holiness of God (Ex. 195,6).” (NGSB. 1243) In this punishment the LORD showed his righteousness, for they “rebelled against His commandment.” (v. 18a) All nations should take note (v. 18b). Her spiritual adulterers had left her, and her own priests and elders “breathed their last in the city.” (v. 19) Jeremiah gives them the words of a proper repentance, while as yet there is no comforter still (vv. 20-21). He also prays that the LORD might bring on their adversaries the same punishment that they were receiving, for their heart was faint due to their transgressions (v. 22).