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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Lamentations 5

 

 

Verse 1

Lamentations 5:1 Remember, O LORD, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach.

Ver. 1. Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us.] This last chapter is a brief recapitulation (a) of what had been said in the four former, that they might be the better remembered and considered by the reader. The ancient Greek and Latin Bibles style it "Jeremiah’s prayer." Herein the prophet, or rather the Church, layeth open, as a lazar, (b) her sores and sufferings, and beggeth to be remembered and considered of God. Not that either forgetfulness or inobservance can be found in him, for all things, both past and future, are present with him, but these are metaphoric expressions, and he alloweth us to be his "remembrancers."

Consider, and behold.] Heb., Behold and see Affectum cum effectu coniuncture significat.

Our reproach.] This is that which man’s nature is most impatient for. To the saints it is so much the more grievous, because they do quarter arms with Christ.


Verse 2

Lamentations 5:2 Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens.

Ver. 2. Our inheritance is turned to strangers.] So the Jews called all other nations, as the Greeks, barbarians. From hence to Lamentations 5:19 there are so many verses, so many different complaints. While we are in this "vale of misery and valley of tears," we are sure of many ailments, and still to have somewhat to cry for.


Verse 3

Lamentations 5:3 We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers [are] as widows.

Ver. 3. We are orphans and fatherless.] And so are become thy clients, just objects of thy pity. [Hosea 14:3]


Verse 4

Lamentations 5:4 We have drunken our water for money; our wood is sold unto us.

Ver. 4. We have drunk our water for money.] Fire, water, and air are common good, quae iure naturae sunt omnium et singulorum, saith Cicero. (a) Lysimachus paid dear for a cup of water when he parted with his kingdom for it. Dives would have done as much in hell for a drop, and could not have it.

Our wood is sold to us.] This was strange to them - who had enough of their own growing, or might have it from the commons for fetching - but just upon them for their abuse of it to the service of the queen of heaven. [Jeremiah 7:18]


Verse 5

Lamentations 5:5 Our necks [are] under persecution: we labour, [and] have no rest.

Ver. 5. Our necks are under persecution.] For that we would not stoop to the sweet yoke of thine obedience, but held it heavy, now, we are under an intolerable yoke of extreme slavery.

We labour, and have no rest.] Who once troubled God’s holy rest by bearing burdens, and working thereon. [Jeremiah 17:21] In many places among us God’s Sabbath is made the voider, and dunghill for all refuse businesses. The Sabbath of the Lord, the sanctified day of his rest, saith a reverend writer, (a) is shamelessly troubled and disquieted. The Sabbath was never so profaned, saith such another reverend man (b) yet living, with heart, hand, foot, tongue, pen, and press, as of late. And is it not just with God that those who would jostle his religious rest out of its right, should be restless in their condition? {as Lamentations 5:5} Thus he. All wicked men, acted and agitated by the devil day and night, may well cry out as here, We labour, and have no rest; but they are not sensible of this woeful servitude.


Verse 6

Lamentations 5:6 We have given the hand [to] the Egyptians, [and to] the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.

Ver. 6. We have given the hand to the Egyptians, and to the Assyrians.] Enemies to the Chaldeans, no less than they were to us; but hard hunger, that driveth the wolf out of the wood, hath made us glad to be beholden to them for bread; so ill have the cruel Chaldees relieved and rewarded us for our work.


Verse 7

Lamentations 5:7 Our fathers have sinned, [and are] not; and we have borne their iniquities.

Ver. 7. Our fathers have sinned, and are not.] They had their payment, but not comparable to ours, who have outsinned them, and do therefore justly bear the punishment of both their sins and our own too. Nobis foret iucundias semel emori, quam vitara invitara vivere.


Verse 8

Lamentations 5:8 Servants have ruled over us: [there is] none that doth deliver [us] out of their hand.

Ver. 8. Servants have ruled over us.] And they are usually most insolent, as was Tobiah the servant. [Nehemiah 2:19] Cicero, after the defeat given to! Pompey, complaineth in a certain epistle, Lords we could not away with, and now we are forced to serve our fellow servant. This was Canaan’s curse, to be a servant of servants. [Genesis 9:25] {See Trapp on "Genesis 9:25"}


Verse 9

Lamentations 5:9 We gat our bread with [the peril of] our lives because of the sword of the wilderness.

Ver. 9. We gat our bread with the peril of our lives.] So did our good ancestors the bread of life, while their preachers also were glad to do as Jotham did, [ 9:21] when they had delivered what they had to say, run away, and flee for their lives. See 2 Samuel 23:17.

Because of the sword of the wilderness.] Where rovers and robbers lay in wait for us; neither could we pass them without apparent peril.


Verse 10

Lamentations 5:10 Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.

Ver. 10. Our skin was black like an oven.] Or, As a chimney, [Isaiah 31:9] being still beaten upon with the fire that is within it,

Because of the terrible famine.] Propter procellas famis, because of the tempests of famine, which, like a violent storm, beareth down all before it.


Verse 11

Lamentations 5:11 They ravished the women in Zion, [and] the maids in the cities of Judah.

Ver. 11. They ravished the women in Zion.] Heb., They humbled, i.e., they dishonested: although Virgo invita vexari quidem potest, violari non potest. The Chaldee paraphraseth thus, The wives were ravished by the Romans, and the maids by the Chaldees; for the Jewish doctors do understand this book of the Lamentations concerning both the destructions of Jerusalem.


Verse 12

Lamentations 5:12 Princes are hanged up by their hand: the faces of elders were not honoured.

Ver. 12. Princes are hanged up by the hand.] Made to die a dog’s death, and, as some (a) will have it, by their own hands, αυτοχειρες.

The faces of the elders were not honoured.]

Magna fuit quondam capitis reverentia cani:

Inque suo precio ruga senilis erat, ” - Ovid.

But now it was otherwise with the Jewish elders, who haply were not worthy of their years, as we say; like as the princes had done wickedly with both hands earnestly, and were therefore not undeservedly hanged up hy the hand; but if Quakers among us might have their way, our families, saith one, would soon be like the cabins of the Lestringonians in Sicily, where everybody was at liberty, and none regarded or reverenced their seniors or superiors.


Verse 13

Lamentations 5:13 They took the young men to grind, and the children fell under the wood.

Ver. 13. They took the young men to grind,] i.e., To do any base and abject business. [Exodus 11:5; Exodus 12:29] Frustra enim hic Hieronymus et alii Sodomiticum quid cogitant.

And the children fell under the wood.] Being not able to stand under such unreasonable burdens as were laid upon their backs.


Verse 14

Lamentations 5:14 The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their musick.

Ver. 14. The elders have ceased from the gate.] Where they were wont to sit, [Genesis 34:20] to judge between party and party.

The young men from their music.] From their ordinary and honest recreations and disports.


Verse 15

Lamentations 5:15 The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning.

Ver. 15. The joy of our heart is ceased.] Heb., Keepeth Sabbath, i.e., is vanished, and that because we made not God’s Sabbath our delight. {as Isaiah 58:13}


Verse 16

Lamentations 5:16 The crown is fallen [from] our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned!

Ver. 16. The crown is fallen from our head,] i.e., All our glory, both of Church and State, because we refused to serve God, which indeed is to "reign in righteousness." Now neither is all this, nor any of this, spoken to exasperate or exulcerate people’s hearts to fret against God, or to faint under their pressures, but to put them upon the practice of true humiliation, that so they may not lose the fruit of their afflictions, whence the following passage.

Woe unto us that we have sinned!] Which, as it runneth sweetly and rhythmically in the original, so it pointeth us to that savoury and sovereign practice of lamenting our sins more than our miseries, and humbling ourselves to the utmost under the mighty hand of God, that he may lift up in due season.


Verse 17

Lamentations 5:17 For this our heart is faint; for these [things] our eyes are dim.

Ver. 17. For this our heart is faint.] Ponit symbolum vere contritionis, we are sin sick even at heart; our sins are as so many daggers at our hearts, or bearded arrows in our flesh.

For these things our eyes are dim.] We have well nigh wept them out; whereby, nevertheless, our minds have been enlightened. Lachrymae sunt succus cordis contriti, seu liquores animae patientis.


Verse 18

Lamentations 5:18 Because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it.

Ver. 18. Because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate,] q.d., Next unto our sins (which are our greatest sorrow), nothing troubleth us more than this, that the public exercises of piety are put down; Zion, the seat of God’s sanctuary, is desolate.


Verse 19

Lamentations 5:19 Thou, O LORD, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation.

Ver. 19. Thou, O Lord, remainest for ever.] Alioqui totus totus desperassem, as that good man said once in like ease, Otherwise I should have but small joy of my life. But thou art everlasting, and invariable in essence, truth, will, and promises. This is mine anchor hold.

Thy throne from generation to generation,] i.e., Thy most equal and righteous ordering of all things, utut nobis quaedam confusiuscule currere videantur, though some things may seem to us to be somewhat confusedly carried, and even to run on wheels, yet it shall one day appear that there was a wheel within a wheel, [Ezekiel 1:15-16] that is, an overruling and all disposing Providence.


Verse 20

Lamentations 5:20 Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, [and] forsake us so long time?

Ver. 20. Wherefore dost thou forget us?] Since thy covenant runs otherwise. [2 Samuel 7:14 Lamentations 5:1]

And forsakest us so long time?] Heb., To length of days. {as Psalms 23:6} Not for seventy years only, but to the end of the world; till "wrath is come upon us to the utmost." {as 1 Thessalonians 2:16}


Verse 21

Lamentations 5:21 Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.

Ver. 21. Turn thou us unto thee.] That thou mayest turn thee to us. {as Zechariah 1:3} Let there be a thorough reformation wrought in us, and then a gracious restoration wrought for us.


Verse 22

Lamentations 5:22 But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us.

Ver. 22. But thou hast utterly rejected us.] This is a sad catastrophe, or close of this doleful ditty, (a) Sometimes God’s suppliants are put hard to it in the course of their prayers; the last grain of their faith and patience seemeth to be put into the scale. When the Son of man cometh with deliverance to his praying people, shall he find faith in the earth? Hard and scarce; and yet he comes oft when they have even done looking for him. He is seen in the mount; he helpeth those that are forsaken of their hopes: hallelujah. Sure it is that God cannot utterly reject his people whom he hath chosen. [Romans 11:2-5] Tremellius rendereth it - and so the margin of our Bibles hath it, and I think better - For wilt thou utterly reject us, or be extremely wroth with us - scil., supra modulum nostrum - according to thine infinite power, and above all that we are able to bear? I cannot think it, neither doth it consist with thy covenant.

Here (as also at the end of Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, and Malachi) many of the Hebrew Bibles repeat the foregoing verse, Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, &c., yet without points, lest anything should seem added thereby to the holy Scriptures. {Hebrew Text Note} The reason hereof read in the end of the prophecy of Isaiah. {See Trapp on "Isaiah 66:24"} This is also here observed by the most renowned Mr Thomas Gataker, whom, for honour’s sake, I name, and to whose most accurate and elaborate annotations upon Isaiah and Jeremiah I have been not a little beholden all along. These he finished not long before his death, to the great glory of God and good of his Church. And of him, and this worthy work of his, I may fitly say, as a learned man doth of Magellan of Portugal (that great navigator), that the strait or sea now called by his name - Fretum Magellanicum - una navigatione simul et immortalem gloriam et mortem ei attulerit - was both his death and his never dying monument. (b)

“Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” - [1 Samuel 7:12]

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Lamentations 5:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/lamentations-5.html. 1865-1868.

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