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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Lamentations 3



Verses 1-3

Lamentations 3:1-66. Jeremiah proposes his own experience under afflictions, as an example as to how the Jews should behave under theirs, so as to have hope of a restoration; hence the change from singular to plural (Lamentations 3:22, Lamentations 3:40-47). The stanzas consist of three lines, each of which begins with the same Hebrew letter.


seen affliction — his own in the dungeon of Malchiah (Jeremiah 38:6); that of his countrymen also in the siege. Both were types of that of Christ.

Verse 2

darkness — calamity.

light — prosperity.

Verse 3

turneth … hand — to inflict again and again new strokes. “His hand,” which once used to protect me. “Turned … turneth” implies repeated inflictions.

Verses 4-6


(Job 16:8).

Verse 5

builded — mounds, as against a besieged city, so as to allow none to escape (so Lamentations 3:7, Lamentations 3:9).

Verse 6

set me — Henderson refers this to the custom of placing the dead in a sitting posture.

dark places — sepulchers. As those “dead long since”; so Jeremiah and his people are consigned to oblivion (Psalm 88:5, Psalm 88:6; Psalm 143:3; Ezekiel 37:13).

Verses 7-9


hedged — (Job 3:23; Hosea 2:6).

chain — literally, “chain of brass.

Verse 8

shutteth out — image from a door shutting out any entrance (Job 30:20). So the antitype. Christ (Psalm 22:2).

Verse 9

hewn stone — which coheres so closely as not to admit of being broken through.

paths crooked — thwarted our plans and efforts so that none went right.

Verses 10-13


(Job 10:16; Hosea 13:7, Hosea 13:8).

Verse 11

turned aside — made me wander out of the right way, so as to become a prey to wild beasts.

pulled in pieces — (Hosea 6:1), as a “bear” or a “lion” (Lamentations 3:10).

Verse 12

(Job 7:20).

Verses 13-15


arrows — literally, “sons” of His quiver (compare Job 6:4).

Verse 14

(Jeremiah 20:7).

their song — (Psalm 69:12). Jeremiah herein was a type of Messiah. “All my people” (John 1:11).

Verse 15

wormwood — (Jeremiah 9:15). There it is regarded as food, namely, the leaves: here as drink, namely, the juice.

Verses 16-18


gravel — referring to the grit that often mixes with bread baked in ashes, as is the custom of baking in the East (Proverbs 20:17). We fare as hardly as those who eat such bread. The same allusion is in “Covered me with ashes,” namely, as bread.

Verse 17

Not only present, but all hope of future prosperity is removed; so much so, that I am as one who never was prosperous (“I forgat prosperity”).

Verse 18

from the Lord — that is, my hope derived from Him (Psalm 31:22).

Verses 19-21


This gives the reason why he gave way to the temptation to despair. The Margin, “Remember” does not suit the sense so well.

wormwood … gall — (Jeremiah 9:15).

Verse 20

As often as my soul calls them to remembrance, it is humbled or bowed down in me.

Verse 21

This — namely, what follows; the view of the divine character (Lamentations 3:22, Lamentations 3:23). Calvin makes “this” refer to Jeremiah‘s infirmity. His very weakness (Lamentations 3:19, Lamentations 3:20) gives him hope of God interposing His strength for him (compare Psalm 25:11, Psalm 25:17; Psalm 42:5, Psalm 42:8; 2 Corinthians 12:9, 2 Corinthians 12:10).

Verses 22-24


(Malachi 3:6).

Verse 23

(Isaiah 33:2).

Verse 24

(Numbers 18:20; Psalm 16:5; Psalm 73:26; Psalm 119:57; Jeremiah 10:16). To have God for our portion is the one only foundation of hope.

Verses 25-27


The repetition of “good” at the beginning of each of the three verses heightens the effect.

wait — (Isaiah 30:18).

Verse 26

quietly wait — literally, “be in silence.” Compare Lamentations 3:28 and Psalm 39:2, Psalm 39:9, that is, to be patiently quiet under afflictions, resting in the will of God (Psalm 37:7). So Aaron (Leviticus 10:2, Leviticus 10:3); and Job (Job 40:4, Job 40:5).

Verse 27

yoke — of the Lord‘s disciplinary teaching (Psalm 90:12; Psalm 119:71). Calvin interprets it, The Lord‘s doctrine (Matthew 11:29, Matthew 11:30), which is to be received in a docile spirit. The earlier the better; for the old are full of prejudices (Proverbs 8:17; Ecclesiastes 12:1). Jeremiah himself received the yoke, both of doctrine and chastisement in his youth (Jeremiah 1:6, Jeremiah 1:7).

Verses 28-30


The fruit of true docility and patience. He does not fight against the yoke (Jeremiah 31:18; Acts 9:5), but accommodates himself to it.

alone — The heathen applauded magnanimity, but they looked to display and the praise of men. The child of God, in the absence of any witness, “alone,” silently submits to the will of God.

borne it upon him — that is, because he is used to bearing it on him. Rather, “because He (the Lord, Lamentations 3:26) hath laid it on him” [Vatablus].

Verse 29

(Job 42:6). The mouth in the dust is the attitude of suppliant and humble submission to God‘s dealings as righteous and loving in design (compare Ezra 9:6; 1 Corinthians 14:25).

if so be there may be hope — This does not express doubt as to whether Godbe willing to receive the penitent, but the penitent‘s doubt as to himself; he whispers to himself this consolation, “Perhaps there may be hope for me.”

Verse 30

Messiah, the Antitype, fulfilled this; His practice agreeing with His precept (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 5:39). Many take patiently afflictions from God, but when man wrongs them, they take it impatiently. The godly bear resignedly the latter, like the former, as sent by God (Psalm 17:13).

Verses 31-33


True repentance is never without hope (Psalm 94:14).

Verse 32

The punishments of the godly are but for a time.

Verse 33

He does not afflict any willingly (literally, “from His heart,” that is, as if He had any pleasure in it, Ezekiel 33:11), much less the godly (Hebrews 12:10).

Verses 34-36


This triplet has an infinitive in the beginning of each verse, the governing finite verb being in the end of Lamentations 3:36, “the Lord approveth not,” which is to be repeated in each verse. Jeremiah here anticipates and answers the objections which the Jews might start, that it was by His connivance they were “crushed under the feet” of those who “turned aside the right of a man.” God approves (literally, “seeth,” Habakkuk 1:13; so “behold,” “look on,” that is, look on with approval) not of such unrighteous acts; and so the Jews may look for deliverance and the punishment of their foes.

Verse 35
face of … most High — Any “turning aside” of justice in court is done before the face of God, who is present, and “regardeth,” though unseen (Ecclesiastes 5:8).

Verse 36

subvert — to wrong.

Verses 37-39


Who is it that can (as God, Psalm 33:9) effect by a word anything, without the will of God?

Verse 38
good — Calamity and prosperity alike proceed from God (Job 2:10; Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6).

Verse 39

living — and so having a time yet given him by God for repentance. If sin were punished as it deserves, life itself would be forfeited by the sinner. “Complaining” (murmuring) ill becomes him who enjoys such a favor as life (Proverbs 19:3).

for the punishment of his sins — Instead of blaming God for his sufferings, he ought to recognize in them God‘s righteousness and the just rewards of his own sin.

Verses 40-42


us — Jeremiah and his fellow countrymen in their calamity.

search — as opposed to the torpor wherewith men rest only on their outward sufferings, without attending to the cause of them (Psalm 139:23, Psalm 139:24).

Verse 41
hands — the antidote to hypocrisy (Psalm 86:4; 1 Timothy 2:8).

Verse 42

not pardoned — The Babylonian captivity had not yet ended.

Verses 43-45


covered — namely, thyself (so Lamentations 3:44), so as not to see and pity our calamities, for even the most cruel in seeing a sad spectacle are moved to pity. Compare as to God “hiding His face,” Psalm 10:11; Psalm 22:25.

Verse 44

(Lamentations 3:8). The “cloud” is our sins, and God‘s wrath because of them (Isaiah 44:22; Isaiah 59:2).

Verse 45

So the apostles were treated; but, instead of murmuring, they rejoiced at it (1 Corinthians 4:13).

Verses 46-48


Pe is put before Ain (Lamentations 3:43, Lamentations 3:46), as in Lamentations 2:16, Lamentations 2:17; Lamentations 4:16, Lamentations 4:17. (Lamentations 2:16.)

Verse 47

Like animals fleeing in fear, we fall into the snare laid for us.

Verse 48

(Jeremiah 4:19).

Verses 49-51


without … intermission — or else, “because there is no intermission” [Piscator], namely, of my miseries.

Verse 50

Till — His prayer is not without hope, wherein it differs from the blind grief of unbelievers.

look down, etc. — (Isaiah 63:15).

Verse 51

eye affecteth mine heart — that is, causeth me grief with continual tears; or, “affecteth my life” (literally, “soul,” Margin), that is, my health [Grotius].

daughters of … city — the towns around, dependencies of Jerusalem, taken by the foe.

Verses 52-54


a bird — which is destitute of counsel and strength. The allusion seems to be to Proverbs 1:17 [Calvin].

without cause — (Psalm 69:4; Psalm 109:3, Psalm 109:4). Type of Messiah (John 15:25).

Verse 53
dungeon — (Jeremiah 37:16).

stone — usually put at the mouth of a dungeon to secure the prisoners (Joshua 10:18; Daniel 6:17; Matthew 27:60).

Verse 54

Waters — not literally, for there was “no water” (Jeremiah 38:6) in the place of Jeremiah‘s confinement, but emblematical of overwhelming calamities (Psalm 69:2; Psalm 124:4, Psalm 124:5).

cut off — (Isaiah 38:10, Isaiah 38:11). I am abandoned by God. He speaks according to carnal sense.

Verses 55-57


I called out of dungeon — Thus the spirit resists the flesh, and faith spurns the temptation [Calvin], (Psalm 130:1; Jonah 2:2).

Verse 56

Thou hast heard — namely formerly (so in Lamentations 3:57, Lamentations 3:58).

breathing … cry — two kinds of prayer; the sigh of a prayer silently breathed forth, and the loud, earnest cry (compare “prayer,” “secret speech,Isaiah 26:16, Margin; with “cry aloud,” Psalm 55:17).

Verse 57

Thou drewest near — with Thy help (James 4:8).

Verses 58-60


Jeremiah cites God‘s gracious answers to his prayers as an encouragement to his fellow countrymen, to trust in Him.

pleaded — (Psalm 35:1; Micah 7:9).

Verse 59

God‘s past deliverances and His knowledge of Judah‘s wrongs are made the grounds of prayer for relief.

Verse 60

imaginations — devices (Jeremiah 11:19).

Their vengeance — means their malice. Jeremiah gives his conduct, when plotted against by his foes, as an example how the Jews should bring their wrongs at the hands of the Chaldeans before God.

Verses 61-63


their reproach — their reproachful language against me.

Verse 62

lips — speeches.

Verse 63
rising up — whether they sit or rise, that is, whether they be actively engaged or sedentary, and at rest “all the day” (Lamentations 3:62), I am the subject of their derisive songs (Lamentations 3:14).

Verses 64-66


(Jeremiah 11:20; 2 Timothy 4:14).

Verse 65

sorrow — rather, blindness or hardness; literally, “a veil” covering their heart, so that they may rush on to their own ruin (Isaiah 6:10; 2 Corinthians 3:14, 2 Corinthians 3:15).

Verse 66

from under … heavens of … Lorddestroy them so that it may be seen everywhere under heaven that thou sittest above as Judge of the world.


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

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