592.) Lamentations 2

“Jeremiah lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem” by Rembrandt, 1630 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

Lamentations 2

(Contemporary English Version)

The LORD Was Like an Enemy

This chapter is also an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

The Prophet Speaks:

1The Lord was angry!

So he disgraced Zion though it was Israel’s pride

and his own place of rest.

In his anger he threw Zion down from heaven to earth.

2The LORD had no mercy!

He destroyed the homes of Jacob’s descendants.

In his anger he tore down every walled city in Judah;

he toppled the nation together with its leaders,

leaving them in shame.

Psalm 89:39-40 (New International Version)

You have renounced the covenant with your servant
   and have defiled his crown in the dust.
You have broken through all his walls
   and reduced his strongholds to ruins.

3The Lord was so furiously angry

that he wiped out the whole army of Israel

by not supporting them when the enemy attacked.

He was like a raging fire

that swallowed up the descendants of Jacob.

4He attacked like an enemy with a bow and arrows,

killing our loved ones.

He has burned to the ground the homes on Mount Zion.

I know a woman whose house burned to the ground.  She says that even now, years after, she is sometimes jolted awake by the memory of yet another thing that was lost.  The blanket her grandmother had knit for her when she was born.  The baptismal dress her children wore.  Their wedding invitation, framed in a mother-of-pearl frame.  Her scrapbook of her brother’s senior year in high school, beginning with football practice (he was the quarterback) and ending with the car wreck the night after graduation.  Totally random, she says, the things she remembers.  And always with a pain deep inside. Life can be hard.


5The Lord was like an enemy!

He left Israel in ruins

with its palaces and fortresses destroyed,

and with everyone in Judah moaning and weeping.

6He shattered his temple like a hut in a garden;

he completely wiped out his meeting place,

and did away with festivals and Sabbaths

in the city of Zion.

In his fierce anger he rejected our king and priests.

7The Lord abandoned his altar and his temple;

he let Zion’s enemies capture her fortresses.

Noisy shouts were heard from the temple,

as if it were a time of celebration.

Psalm 74:7-8 (New International Version)

They burned your sanctuary to the ground;
   they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.
They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!”
   They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.

8The LORD had decided

to tear down the walls of Zion stone by stone.

So he started destroying and did not stop

until walls and fortresses mourned and trembled.

9Zion’s gates have fallen

facedown on the ground;

the bars that locked the gates are smashed to pieces.

Her king and royal family are prisoners in foreign lands.

Her priests don’t teach,

and her prophets don’t have a message from the LORD.

10Zion’s leaders are silent.

They just sit on the ground,

tossing dirt on their heads and wearing sackcloth.

Her young women can do nothing

but stare at the ground.

11My eyes are red from crying,

my stomach is in knots, and I feel sick all over.

Psalm 22:14 (New International Version)

I am poured out like water,
   and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
   it has melted within me.


My people are being wiped out,

and children lie helpless in the streets of the city.

12A child begs its mother for food and drink,

then blacks out

like a wounded soldier lying in the street.

The child slowly dies in its mother’s arms.

13Zion, how can I comfort you?

Isaiah 40:1-2 (New International Version)

Comfort, comfort my people,
   says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
   and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
   that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
   double for all her sins.


How great is your pain?

Lovely city of Jerusalem,

how can I heal your wounds, gaping as wide as the sea?

14Your prophets deceived you

with false visions and lying messages–

they should have warned you

to leave your sins and be saved from disaster.

15Those who pass by shake their heads and sneer

as they make fun and shout,

“What a lovely city you were, the happiest on earth,

but look at you now!”

“Colorful Town” by Dora Ficher, 2009.

Psalm 50:2 (English Standard Version)

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
    God shines forth.


16Zion, your enemies curse you and snarl like wild animals,

while shouting, “This is the day we’ve waited for!

At last, we’ve got you!”

17The LORD has done everything

that he had planned and threatened long ago.

He destroyed you without mercy

and let your enemies boast about their powerful forces.

18Zion, deep in your heart you cried out to the Lord.

Now let your tears overflow your walls day and night.

Don’t ever lose hope or let your tears stop.

19Get up and pray for help all through the night.

Pour out your feelings to the Lord, as you would pour water out of a jug.

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.”

Dinah Craik (1826-1887), English poet and novelist


Beg him to save your people,

who are starving to death at every street crossing.

Jerusalem Speaks:

20Think about it, LORD!

Have you ever been this cruel to anyone before?

Is it right for mothers to eat their children,

or for priests and prophets to be killed in your temple?

21My people, both young and old, lie dead in the streets.

Because you were angry,

my young men and women were brutally slaughtered.

22When you were angry, LORD,

you invited my enemies like guests for a party.

No one survived that day;

enemies killed my children,

my own little ones.



One morning in March 1991, four year old Conor Clapton, son of the important and influential English guitarist, singer, and song-writer Eric Clapton, died when he fell from a 53rd-story window in a New York City apartment.  He landed on the roof of an adjacent four-story building.  This song is Clapton’s expression of grief at the loss of his little boy.  I remember when this happened; we were living in Italy at the time and I had two precious sons — Sean was 5 and Devlin was not quite 1.

To all the fathers and mothers who have lost a child, beginning with Adam and Eve and continuing to this very day — the promise is sure.  There will be no “Tears in Heaven.”

(with love to Judy, Marlys, Mary, Jan and Don, Cary and Andy . . .)

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven
Will it be the same
If I saw you in heaven
I must be strong, and carry on
Cause I know I don’t belong
Here in heaven

Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven
I’ll find my way, through night and day
Cause I know I just can’t stay
Here in heaven

Time can bring you down
Time can bend your knee
Time can break your heart
Have you begging please
Begging please


Beyond the door
There’s peace I’m sure.
And I know there’ll be no more…
Tears in heaven


Contemporary English Version (CEV)   Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
Rembrandt.    http://www.artchive.com/artchive/r/rembrandt/jeremiah.jpg
home burning.    http://www.palmdeserthomeinspector.com/system/files/userfiles/Big_Home_Burning.jpg
heart melt.    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-iNQM83YptkU/TdmYk-3VFqI/AAAAAAAAAck/AxLHScnBxp8/s200/heart+melt.jpg
little girl.   http://ambrosiagirl.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/img_4681.jpg
Ficher.    http://doraficher.typepad.com/.a/6a0111685bdd87970c01127919ef9f28a4-800wi
pitcher,  pouring water.   http://www.cancerfreesociety.org/Pitcher%20Pouring%20Water%20copy.jpg

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