Tuesday, November 13, 2012

themes of Lamentations

Her foes have become the head; her enemies prosper, because the LORD has afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe.
Lamentations 1:5

In the sadness of the ancient book of Lamentations, Jeremiah the prophet becomes Jeremiah the poet. And he uses his expressions to mourn over Judah's exile to Babylon. The personification of the ruined city of Jerusalem as a fallen prostitute whose lovers have destroyed her is difficult to read. Judah is undone and broken by her own sins. Her own heart's affections led to her downfall.

There are several themes woven into these verses of lament. Predominant is the sorrow over the destructive outcome of disobedience to God. It is an element of nearly every verse in this epic poem. There is also the theme of subjugation. God's people are now under the control of the Gentiles. Other people own the fate of Israel. A third theme is the retributive justice of God. It is seen in judgment on Israel's sins (most notably in the destroyed city of Jerusalem) but God's justice is also implored by the survivors as they see their enemies reveling in cruel sin over their captives.

In all the losses mourned over in Lamentations, there is still an undercurrent of strong faith in The Lord. There is an acceptance that God was right in bringing the curses of the covenant to correct His people. There is a trust that God will eventually avenge the enemies of His people for their treatment of them. And even in places there is a hope flickering in the ashes for a merciful renewal yet to come.

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