I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.Lamentations 3:1-2. I am the man that hath seen affliction — I myself have suffered affliction in this time of public calamity. He speaks, probably, with a particular regard to the ill treatment he had met with in the discharge of his prophetical office. Some indeed suppose that he speaks in this and the subsequent verses, to Lamentations 3:21, in the character of the people, but so many passages manifestly refer to his own personal troubles, that such an interpretation seems very improbable. He hath brought me into darkness, but not into light — Light is often used in Scripture for happiness or comfort, and darkness for affliction and misery. The prophet’s meaning is, that God had been pleased to exercise him with calamity. Perhaps he refers especially to his being put into the dungeon and the stocks, and to the state of darkness and distress which his mind was in during these trials.
He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light.
Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day.Lamentations 3:3-7. Surely against me is he turned — The course of his providence toward me is quite altered. He was formerly kind and gracious, but now exercises an afflicting hand against me, and that not occasionally, or for a short time, but continually, all the day. The phrase, He turneth his hand against me, is equivalent to that which occurs Isaiah 1:25, I will turn thy hand upon thee, where see the note. My flesh, &c., hath he made old — Hebrew, בלה, hath wasted, caused to decay. See notes on Job 16:8; Psalm 31:10; Psalm 32:3. He hath broken my bones — The anguish I feel in my mind is as painful to me as if all my bones were broken. He hath builded against me — He hath blocked me up in a strait place; he has so enclosed me with calamities that there is no escaping them; and compassed me with gall, &c. — Hath filled me with grief and anguish of mind, which is no less bitter than gall to the mouth. He hath set me in dark places, &c. — He hath confined me to a dungeon where no light enters; and I am secluded from human society, as if I were out of the world. He probably refers to the pit of the prison into which he was cast by the command of Zedekiah. He hath hedged me about — See Lamentations 3:5, and the margin. He hath made my chain heavy — He hath made my bondage, or my imprisonment, grievous.
My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones.
He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail.
He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old.
He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy.
Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.Lamentations 3:8. Also when I cry and shout — When, under a conviction that, in my present distressed condition, I cannot deliver myself, and that no creature can deliver me, I make application to God in prayer for deliverance, and am serious, fervent, and importunate in my addresses to him; he shutteth out my prayer — Refuses to hearken to it, or give me any ease or relief; Hebrew, שׂתם, the same as סתם, he hath obstructed my prayer; “hath barred my prayer from approaching him.” — Blaney. Thus sometimes God seems to be angry even against the prayers of his people, Psalm 80:5. And their case is deplorable indeed when they are denied, not only the benefit of an answer, but the comfort of acceptance.
He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked.Lamentations 3:9-13. He hath enclosed my way with hewn stone — He hath not only hedged it up with thorns, Hosea 2:6, but stopped it up with a stone wall which cannot be broken through; so that my paths are made crooked — That is, I traverse to and fro, to the right hand and to the left, to try to get forward, but I am still turned back. Observe, reader, if we walk in the crooked ways of sin, crossing or swerving from God’s laws, it is just with God to make us walk in the crooked paths of affliction, crossing our designs and breaking our measures. He was unto me as a bear lying in wait — Surprising me with his judgments; and as a lion in secret places — So that which way soever I went, I was in continual fear of being attacked, and could never think myself safe. He hath turned aside my ways — Hath blasted all my counsels and ruined my projects; (see above on Lamentations 3:9;) and pulled me in pieces — Hath torn and gone away, Hosea 5:14. He hath made me desolate — Deprived me of all society, and of all comfort in my soul. He hath bent his bow — That bow, which was ordained against the church’s persecutors, is bent against her sons. He hath set me as a mark for his arrows — Which he aims at, and is sure to hit: so that the arrows of his quiver enter into my reins — And give me an inward and mortal wound.
He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places.
He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate.
He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow.
He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins.
I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day.Lamentations 3:14-19. I was a derision to all my people — To all the wicked among them, who made themselves merry with the prophet’s griefs and the public judgments; and their song all the day — Hebrew, נגינתם, their instrument of music. The word, says Blaney, “is commonly rendered their song; but I rather think it means a subject upon which they played, as upon a musical instrument, for their diversion.” He hath filled me with bitterness — A bitter sense of these calamities. God has access to the spirit, and can so imbitter it, as thereby to imbitter all enjoyments; as when the stomach is foul, whatever is eaten becomes acid in it. He hath made me drunken with wormwood — That is, so intoxicated me with the sense of my afflictions, that I know not what to say or do. He hath broken my teeth with gravel- stones — Hath mingled gravel with my bread, so that my teeth are broken with it, and what I eat is neither pleasant nor nourishing. He hath covered me with ashes — As mourners were wont to be; or, as some render הכפישׁני אפר, he hath laid me low, or made me wallow, in ashes, namely, because of great sorrow and grief. These expressions imply the height of misery; that he received no comfort or refreshment from any thing. I said, My strength, my hope is gone — I even began to despair of God’s mercy; remembering my affliction — Reflecting on all the miseries and hardships I had suffered. Without doubt it was his infirmity to think and speak thus, (Psalm 77:10,) for with God there is everlasting strength, and he is his people’s never-failing hope, whatever they may suspect to the contrary.
He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood.
He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes.
And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity.
And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:
Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.
My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.
This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.Lamentations 3:21-23. This I recall to my mind, &c. — Here the prophet begins to suggest motives of patience and consolation: as if he had said, I call to mind the following considerations, and thereupon I conceive hope and comfort. And surely they are such as afford a sufficient ground for trusting in God under the severest trials. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed — It is not clear that this is the exact sense of the Hebrew, in which there is nothing for it is of. The LXX. translate the verse, τα ελεη κυριου, οτι ουκ εξελιπε με. The mercies of the Lord, because they have not left, or do not leave, me: that is, I rely on, and derive hope and consolation from, the mercies of the Lord, which still continue to prevent and follow me. Because his compassions fail not — Ου συντελεσθησαν, are not finished, exhausted, or brought to an end. They are new every morning: great, &c. — Thy mercies are renewed to us every day, one following another; and thy faithfulness in performing them is as great as thy goodness in promising them. God’s mercy and truth, or fidelity, are usually joined together. Blaney connects these three verses thus: “This I revolve in my heart, therefore will I have hope; the mercies of Jehovah, that they are not exhausted, that they fail not; new are his compassions every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” According to our translation the prophet represents himself as calling to mind that, as a sinner, he deserved to be cut off, and delivered up to future punishment, and should certainly have been thus destroyed but for the mercies of God; while his people, for their sins, would have been so totally consumed that no remnant of them would have been left. “As, however, the Lord had mercifully spared him, and had not utterly destroyed them; as his compassions were plenteous and unfailing, and every morning renewed to him, in the continuance of his life, and many unmerited benefits; and as God had given many precious promises to Israel, and to every believer, and, in his great faithfulness, had always performed them to those who trusted in them; so he found there was yet encouragement to hope, and to exercise patience and repentance in expectation of returning comfort.” — Scott.
It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.Lamentations 3:24-26. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul — An interest in the favour and love of God, and his presence with me, my heart tells me, is the best inheritance. And, possessing these, I have that which is sufficient to balance all my troubles, and make up all my losses. For, while portions on earth are empty and perishing things, God is an all-sufficient and durable portion, a portion for ever. Therefore will I hope in him — I will stay myself upon him, and encourage myself in him, when all other supports and encouragements fail me. Observe, reader, it is our duty and interest to make God the portion of our souls, and then to enjoy and take comfort in him as such, in the midst of afflictions and lamentations. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him — To them that patiently wait his time; when he shall judge it a proper season to afford them comfort and deliverance; and who, in the mean while, apply themselves to him by prayer and humiliation. It is good — It is our duty, and will be our unspeakable comfort and satisfaction; that a man should hope and quietly wait, &c. — To hope that it will come, though the difficulties that lie in the way of it seem insuperable; to wait till it does come, though it be long delayed; and while we wait to be quiet and silent, not quarrelling with God, or making ourselves uneasy, but acquiescing in the divine disposal.
The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.
It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.Lamentations 3:27-30. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth — That he be inured betimes to bear those useful restraints which may give him a right sense of the duty which he owes to God, and the obedience he ought to pay to his laws. For the prophet’s expression is very applicable to the yoke of God’s commands; it is good for us to take that yoke upon us in our youth; we cannot begin too soon to be religious; it will make our duty the more acceptable to God, and easy to ourselves, if we engage in it when we are young. Here, however, the prophet seems to speak chiefly of the yoke of affliction; many have found it good to bear this yoke in their youth; it has made those humble, and serious, and spiritually minded, who otherwise would have been proud, unruly, and as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. If it be asked, when we bear this yoke so that it is really good for us to bear it? we have the answer in the following verses: 1st, When we are sedate and quiet under our afflictions; when we sit alone and keep silence; retire into privacy that we may converse with God, and commune with our own hearts, silencing all discontented, distrustful thoughts, and laying our hand upon our mouth, as Aaron, who, under a severe trial, held his peace. When those that are afflicted in their youth accommodate themselves to their afflictions, and study to answer God’s end in afflicting them, then they will find it good for them to bear it; for it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. 2d, When we are humble and patient under affliction; he gets good by the yoke, that not only lays his hand upon his mouth in token of submission to the will of God in the affliction, but puts his mouth in the dust in token of sorrow, shame, and self-loathing at the remembrance of sin, and as one perfectly reduced and reclaimed, and brought, as it were, to lick the dust, Psalm 72:9. And we must thus humble ourselves, if so be there may be hope. If there be any way to acquire and secure a good hope under our afflictions, as, blessed be God, there is, it is this way, and while we look for it we must own ourselves utterly unworthy of Lamentations 2:3 d, When we are meek and gentle toward those that are the instruments of our trouble, and manifest a forgiving spirit. He gets good by the yoke that gives his cheek to him that smiteth him, and rather turns the other cheek, than returns the second blow. He that can bear contempt and reproach, and not render railing for railing, and bitterness for bitterness; that when he is filled with reproach, keeps it to himself, and does not retort it upon them that filled him with it, but pours it out before the Lord, Psalm 123:4; he shall find it good to bear the yoke, and it shall turn to his spiritual advantage. The sum is, if tribulation work patience, that patience will work experience, and that experience a hope that maketh not ashamed.
He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him.
He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope.
He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach.
For the Lord will not cast off for ever:Lamentations 3:31-33. The Lord will not cast off for ever — The truly penitent that put their trust in him, and sincerely desire and seek reconciliation with him: though he may for a time appear to estrange himself from them, yet he will certainly return to them. Though he cause grief — Though, as a prudent parent, he may see reason to chastise his people by affliction, yet as a kind and tender Father, who pitieth his children in misery, according to the multitude, the unspeakable greatness and abundance of his mercies, he will have compassion upon them. For he doth not afflict willingly — Hebrew, מלבו, from his heart, that is, of his own mere motion, without cause given him by the persons afflicted; or freely and with pleasure; nor grieve the children of men — Much less his own children. Hence judgment is called his strange work, and exercising mercy and loving-kindness his delight.
But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.
To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth,Lamentations 3:34-36. To crush under his feet, &c. — In these verses certain acts of tyranny, malice, and injustice are specified, in the practice of which men are prone to indulge themselves one toward another, but which the divine goodness is far from countenancing or approving by any similar conduct. By the prisoners of the earth, or of the land, as the words may be properly rendered, Blaney thinks are meant the poor insolvent debtors, whom their creditors among the Jews, as well as in other nations, were empowered to cast into prison, and to oblige to work out their debts; a power too often exerted with great rigour and inhumanity: see Isaiah 58:3; Matthew 18:30; Matthew 18:34. To turn aside the right of a man — To prevent his obtaining, or to deprive him of, his just rights; before the face of the Most High — In the presence of the just and holy God, and under his all-seeing eye, who takes particular notice of all acts of injustice, and will severely punish them. The word עליון, here used, undoubtedly often means the most high God, and is so understood here, both by the LXX. and the Vulgate. Many commentators, however, prefer the marginal reading, a superior, understanding thereby a magistrate. And Blaney thinks it cannot here mean God, because, “though a person may be made to suffer greatly by having his judgment turned aside, that is, by being calumniated and misrepresented before an earthly superior, yet all such malicious attempts must fail and come to nothing where God is the judge, who cannot be deceived or imposed upon.” This is certainly true: but it does not appear that the prophet referred to this circumstance, but rather to the effrontery and daring wickedness of those who could be guilty of such injustice, when they knew they were before the omnipresent God, and that his eye was upon them, thus, as it were, bidding him defiance. To subvert a man in his cause — That is, to prevent his having justice done him, in a law-suit or controversy, by any undue interference; as by bearing or suborning false witness, or exerting any kind of influence in opposition to truth and right: the Lord approveth not — Hebrew, לא ראה, seeth not: that is, hates such conduct, and turns away his face from it with abhorrence and disgust. Thus we read, Habakkuk 1:13, Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil; and canst not look on iniquity. The general sense of the passage is, as God takes no pleasure in oppressing the poor and helpless, so neither will he suffer any men to escape unpunished that are guilty of such acts of injustice and cruelty, who never consider that all the wrongs they do are committed in the sight of the Supreme Judge of the world; and although for a time he thinks fit to prosper such oppressors, yet, in due time, he will call them to a severe account for their wickedness.
To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High,
To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not.
Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?Lamentations 3:37-38. Who is he that saith — That commands an event to take place, or predicts that it shall take place, and it cometh to pass accordingly, when the Lord commandeth not? — Or who designs a thing, and brings his designs to effect, when the Lord is against him? “Haughty tyrants may boast of their power as if they were equal to Omnipotence itself; but still it is God’s prerogative to bring to pass whatever he pleases, without any let or impediment, only by speaking, or declaring his purpose, that the thing should be done, as he did at the beginning of the creation: see Psalm 33:7. And as he makes men the instruments of his vengeance when he sees fit, so he can restrain their cruelty whenever he pleases.” — Lowth. Out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth not evil and good? — Do not calamities, as well as prosperous events, happen by God’s will and pleasure? The sum is: Nothing comes to pass in the world but by the disposal of the divine providence, which is directed by infinite wisdom, justice, and goodness. The inspired writer seems to be arguing himself and the people of God into a quiet submission to the divine will in their afflictions, from the consideration of the hand of God in them.
Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?
Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?Lamentations 3:39. Wherefore, &c. — The prophet here seems to check and blame himself for the complaints he had made in the former part of the chapter, wherein he appeared to reflect upon God as unkind and severe. And from the doctrine of God’s sovereign and universal providence, which he had asserted in the last two verses, he draws this inference, Wherefore doth a living man complain? a man for the punishment of his sins? — No calamity or trouble befalls us, but what is the due reward of our sins; and is designed as a chastisement for them, in order to our purification and amendment, or for the trial of our grace, and in order to the exercise and increase of it. If we view our afflictions in this light, it will prevent all murmuring and repining against the providence of God. We shall learn to be patient and resigned under his chastising hand, and even thankful that he condescends to correct and try us for our profit, and by preserving us alive in the body still gives us space for repentance. “There seems,” says Blaney, “to be a peculiar emphasis laid on the words חי, [living,] and גבר, [man,] in this passage. גברis said to denote a man, because of his excellence and superiority over all other earthly beings. While a man therefore lives, and is possessed of those privileges of his nature, whatever he undergoes must be less than his sins have deserved, because death, which implies the loss of all those privileges, is the allotted wages of sin.” Mark well, reader, though we may pour out our complaints before God, we must never complain against or of God. How cogent are the reasons here suggested against such a conduct! We are men, let us herein show ourselves men. Shall a man complain? Shall a reasonable creature act contrary to all reason, and an immortal being forget or disregard his immortality? Shall he be so insensible of the value of the privileges of his nature, and of his obligations to God for them, as to abuse them to God’s dishonour, instead of using them to his glory? Shall he take upon him to censure or call in question the dispensations of infinite wisdom, justice, and goodness toward him, and act as if he thought he knew better than his Maker what is good for him? Shall a living man complain — a man who has a thousand times forfeited his life, with all the blessings of it, but to whom it is still continued, and with it many of its comforts, and particularly the means of attaining life everlasting — a hope, or a foundation whereon to build a hope, of felicity and glory for ever? A man for the punishment of his sins? A punishment infinitely less than his sins have deserved? and a punishment, or chastisement, rather, which the omniscient God knows to be absolutely necessary to bring him to repentance and reformation, if he will by any means whatever be brought thereto? Surely, reader, if we be suffering for our sins, instead of spending our time in complaining and repining, we ought to be employed in repenting and reforming, and, that we may have at least one evidence that God is reconciled to us, we should endeavour to reconcile ourselves to his holy and gracious will. Or, to consider the matter in another point of view: Are we punished for our sins? It is then our wisdom to submit, and kiss the rod; for if we still walk contrary to God, he will punish us still seven times more, for when he judgeth he will overcome; but if we accommodate ourselves to him, though we be chastened of the Lord, we shall not be condemned with the world.
Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.Lamentations 3:40-41. Let us search and try our ways — This will be a more reasonable and profitable employment than that of complaining and murmuring against the providence of God. Let us search what our ways have been, and try whether they have been right and good or not. Let us examine our tempers, words, and works, and consider what they have been, whether agreeable or contrary to the holy will of God. Let us try our ways, that by them we may try ourselves: for we are to judge of our state and character, not by our faint wishes, good intentions, transient resolutions, or even warm affections, but by our steps; and not by one particular step, but by our ways, our whole conduct; the ends we aim at, the rules we go by, and the agreeableness or contrariety of the temper of our minds, and the tenor of our lives to those ends and those rules. When we are in affliction it is peculiarly seasonable to consider our ways, (Haggai 1:5,) that what is amiss may be repented of, and amended for the future, and so we may answer the intention of the affliction. We are apt, in times of public calamity, to reflect upon other people’s ways, and lay blame upon them, whereas our business is to search and try our own ways: we have work enough to do at home; we must each of us say, What have I done? what have I contributed to the public distress? That we may each of us mend one, then we shall all be mended. And let us turn again to the Lord — Namely, by a sincere conversion, even to him who is turned against us, and from whom we have turned; to him let us turn by repentance, reformation, and faith, as to our owner and ruler. This particular must accompany the former, and be the fruit of it; therefore we must search and try our ways, that we may turn from the evil of them to God; this was the method David took, who says, Psalm 119:59, I thought on my ways, and turned my feet into thy testimonies. Let us lift up our heart, &c. — Let us apply ourselves unto God by prayer, without which we shall attempt in vain to take the preceding advice. Without supernatural light from him we shall search and try our ways to little purpose: we shall still remain unacquainted with ourselves, and shall pass a false judgment on our character and conduct; and without his renewing grace we shall not be turned to him effectually. Now for these blessings we must make application to him in fervent prayer, lifting up our hearts with our hands, and pouring out our souls with our words, in confident expectation of receiving what we ask.
Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.
We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned.Lamentations 3:42-47. We have transgressed, &c. — Here the prophet shows what will be the effect of a proper searching and trying of our ways; we shall be convinced of our sinfulness and guilt: and he here teaches us that confession of sin must accompany petition for the pardon of it. For he that would find mercy must confess as well as forsake his sins, Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9. Thou hast not pardoned — That is, as the expression seems here to mean, thou hast not removed the judgments brought upon us for our sins. Thou continuest to punish us according to the just desert of our transgressions. Thou hast covered with anger — Either, thou hast covered thyself with anger, hast covered thy face, so as not to look upon us to move thy pity; or, which is more probably the sense, thou hast covered, that is, overwhelmed, us with thy wrath. Thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied — Thou hast pursued us to a fatal ruin, without showing us any pity. Thou hast covered thyself, &c., that our prayer should not pass through — Whereas in our distress we had no other resource but to apply to thee for help, thou didst so hide thy face and withdraw thyself from us, that we could have no access to thee or intercourse with thee. The expression is metaphorical, and signifies no more than that God would not hear their prayers in their distress. Thou hast made us the offscouring, &c. — That is, thou hast made us extremely contemptible in the eyes of all nations, so that they value us no more than the sweepings of their houses, or the most vile refuse, or contemptible things imaginable. All our enemies have opened their mouths — That is, to mock, scoff, and reproach us. Fear and a snare is come upon us — That is, all manner of misery: see the margin.
Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied.
Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.
Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people.
All our enemies have opened their mouths against us.
Fear and a snare is come upon us, desolation and destruction.
Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people.Lamentations 3:48-51. Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water — In this and the three following verses the prophet shows that the misfortunes of his country constituted no small part of his personal affliction. Mine eye affecteth my heart — Hebrew, עוללה לנפשׁי, preys upon my soul, as the Vulgate renders the expression, that is, my grief wears out my health and strength; because of all the daughters of my city — On account of the sufferings of the inhabitants of my city.
Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not, without any intermission,
Till the LORD look down, and behold from heaven.
Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city.
Mine enemies chased me sore, like a bird, without cause.Lamentations 3:52-58. Mine enemies chased me sore — “The prophet in this, and the following verses, describes his own sufferings, when his enemies seized him and put him into the dungeon, Jeremiah 37:16; Jeremiah 38:6. He compares them to a fowler in pursuit of a bird; so, saith he, they sought all opportunities to take an advantage against me, and to deprive me of my life and liberty: and this they did without any provocation given on my part. So the word חנם, without cause, signifies.” — Lowth. They have cut off my life — I was not only sequestered from all human society, like a dead man, but in apparent danger of losing my life in the dungeon. And their laying a stone upon the entrance of that dark pit resembled the burying me alive. Waters flowed over my head; then I said, &c. — When I sunk down into the mire in this dungeon, I despaired of my life, just as if I had been sinking over head in a river. I called upon thy name, O Lord — I had recourse to thee, O Jehovah, in my distress; out of the low dungeon — As Jonah out of the whale’s belly. Observe, reader, though we be cast into ever so low a dungeon of calamity and trouble, we may from thence find a way of access to God in the highest heavens. Thus the psalmist, Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, Psalm 130:1. Hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry — So he terms his prayer. It was his breathing toward God, and after God. Prayer is the breath of the new man, drawing in the air of grace in petitions, and returning it in praises; it is both the evidence and maintenance of the spiritual life. Some read it, at my gasping; when I lay gasping for life, and ready to expire, and thought I was breathing my last, then thou tookest cognizance of my distressed case. Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee — That is, thou didst graciously assure me of thy presence with me, and didst give me to see thee nigh unto me, whereas I had thought thee to be at a distance from me. Thou saidst, Fear not — This was the language, 1st, of God’s prophets, preaching to them not to fear, Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 41:13; Isaiah 2 d, of his providence, preventing those things which they were afraid of; and, 3d, of his grace, quieting their minds, and making them easy, by the witness of his Spirit with their spirits, that they were his people still, though in distress, and therefore ought not to fear. Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul — That is, as it follows, Thou hast redeemed my life, hast rescued it out of the hands of those that would have taken it away, hast saved it when it was ready to be swallowed up; thou hast given me my life for a prey.
They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me.
Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off.
I called upon thy name, O LORD, out of the low dungeon.
Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry.
Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not.
O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life.
O LORD, thou hast seen my wrong: judge thou my cause.Lamentations 3:59-63. O Lord, thou hast seen my wrong — Here the prophet adverts to his present sufferings, and the ill usage he met with, concerning which he appeals to God; as if he had said, Thou hast seen that I have done no wrong at all, but that I suffer a great deal. He that knows all things knew, 1st, The malice they had against him; thou hast seen, says he, all their vengeance — How they desire to do me a mischief, as if it were by way of reprisal for some great injury I had done them. 2d, The designs and projects they had laid to do him a mischief. Thou hast seen, Lamentations 3:60, and again, Lamentations 3:61, Thou hast heard, all their imaginations against me, both their desires and their devices to ruin me; these, whether they show themselves in word or deed, are perfectly known to thee. 3d, The contempt and calumny wherewith they loaded him, all that they spoke slightly, and all that they spoke reproachfully of him. Thou hast heard their reproach, Lamentations 3:61; all the ill characters they give me, laying to my charge things that I know not, all the methods that they use to make me odious and contemptible, even the lips of those that rose up against me, Lamentations 3:62; the contumelious language they use whenever they speak of me. Behold, their sitting down, &c. — That is, Behold at all times, whether they sit down or rise up, I am made the subject of their merriment, and their laughing-stock.
Thou hast seen all their vengeance and all their imaginations against me.
Thou hast heard their reproach, O LORD, and all their imaginations against me;
The lips of those that rose up against me, and their device against me all the day.
Behold their sitting down, and their rising up; I am their musick.
Render unto them a recompence, O LORD, according to the work of their hands.Lamentations 3:64-66. Render to them a recompense, &c. — See note on Jeremiah 11:20. The verbs in these verses are not in the imperative mood, but all in the future tense, and certainly should have been so rendered, as indeed they are by the LXX., Αποδωσεις αυτοις ανταποδομα Κυριε — Αποδωσεις αυτοις — και διας μου μοχθον. Συ αυτους καταδιωξεις εν οργη, και εξαναλωσεις αυτους υποκατωθεν του ουρανου Κυριε. Thou wilt render unto them a recompense, O Lord — Thou wilt render unto them the grief of my heart. Thou wilt persecute them in wrath, and destroy them from under the heaven, O Lord. Thus also the Vulgate, Blaney, and many others.
Give them sorrow of heart, thy curse unto them.
Persecute and destroy them in anger from under the heavens of the LORD.