Lamentations 4 From Gold To Clay-Hope Among The Ashes.
Gold, from the dawn of creation, has always been a precious metal (Gen. 2:12). It was also used in a redemptive and worship context, as the mercy seat was made of pure gold (Ex. 25:16). When Moses delivered the word of the LORD, one the principles that must govern Kings, was that they were not to accumulate silver and gold, but rather to treasure the law (Dt. 17:17-18). Job understood that his hope and confidence was not to reside in fine gold (31:24), but with the Psalmist, it must rest in the law of the LORD (Ps. 19:7-11). “A word fitly spoken is like apples of God in settings of silver.” (Pr. 25:11) When Haggai spoke during the rebuilding of the temple in 520 B.C, he recorded the words spoken by the LORD. “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine” (2:8). However, with the exile, the gold became dim, that is, most of it was gone, taken by Nebuchadnezzar.
The gold was also ‘dim’ because the temple had been burnt to the ground, so that it was covered with soot and ashes. The heat may even have melted it, as its stones were scattered or poured out “at the head of every street” (v. 1). However, as valuable as gold is, especially fine gold, the sons of God were far more precious to the LORD (v. 2a). But now they were “regarded as clay pots, the work of the hands of the potter” (v. 2b)! They were once set apart or holy, now they were just common, the dust and ashes of death. They had become like wild cruel animals, depriving their own children of life (vv. 3-4). They went from being blessed, to being cursed (v. 5). They were being punished for their iniquity, which was greater than the sin of Sodom (v. 6).* The Nazarites, referred to here, were like rubies, men or women set apart to the LORD (Nu. 6:1-21).
“Now their appearance is blacker than soot…their skin clings to their bones.” (v. 8) They were all dried up. It was better to die by the sword, than to starve to death (v. 9). Mothers cooked and ate their own children, which also happened with the destruction in 70 A.D (v. 10). This execution of God’s wrath was hard to believe (vv. 11-12). Their chief sin, and the root of all that followed, was because of the sins and iniquities of his servants of the word, “who shed in her midst the blood of the just” (v. 13), and the majority of the people wanted it this way (Jer. 5:31). They didn’t want a true servant of the word (Jer. 2:20; 26:8-9). Ezekiel gave the same message (22:26-28), as did Zephaniah, those who did “violence to the law” (3:4). Jeremiah laments that they were literally blind, and wanted nothing to do with the people (vv. 14-15).
“The face of the LORD scattered them; He no longer regards them. The people do not respect the priests nor show favor to the elders.” (v. 16) The people also looked in vain for any help from men (v. 17), but the only ones were their own apostates, and their enemies to come (vv. 18-19). It is into this context that their only hope for life was in the LORD’s Anointed, the Messiah, or the Christ, whom their enemies would capture in their pit, the One of whom they said, “Under his shadow we shall live among the nations” (v. 20). Yes, this was fulfilled in the greater destruction of 70 AD! His people would experience a full deliverance, and his and their enemies would be under their feet (vv. 21-22). Their earthly king would be gone (Cf. Jer. 52:9; Ez. 12:13), but their true Messiah would come (Cf. Is. 40:10-11; Jer. 33:7-8).
*“The prophets often use Sodom as an archetype of divine judgment on sin (Deut. 29:23; Is. 1:10; Jer. 23:14; Ezek. 16:46; Hos. 11:8; Amos 4:11; Luke 17:28-30). The comparison with Sodom holds good for both the sins of the city and the dreadful judgment that fell upon it.” (NGSB. 1252)