Lamentations 2:17
The LORD has done that which he had devised; he has fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old: he has thrown down, and has not pitied: and he has caused your enemy to rejoice over you, he has set up the horn of your adversaries.
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(17) The Lord hath done . . .—The writer points, in opposition to the boasts of the enemies, to the true author of the misery of the people. In that thought, terrible as it might at first seem, there was an element of hope. It was better to fall into the hands of God than into those of men (2Samuel 24:14). The suffering came as a chastisement for past transgressions, and might therefore be mitigated by repentance. The Destroyer was also the Healer, and would answer the prayers of those who called on Him.

2:10-22 Causes for lamentation are described. Multitudes perished by famine. Even little children were slain by their mother's hands, and eaten, according to the threatening, De 28:53. Multitudes fell by the sword. Their false prophets deceived them. And their neighbours laughed at them. It is a great sin to jest at others' miseries, and adds much affliction to the afflicted. Their enemies triumphed over them. The enemies of the church are apt to take its shocks for its ruins; but they will find themselves deceived. Calls to lamentation are given; and comforts for the cure of these lamentations are sought. Prayer is a salve for every sore, even the sorest; a remedy for every malady, even the most grievous. Our business in prayer is to refer our case to the Lord, and leave it with him. His will be done. Let us fear God, and walk humbly before him, and take heed lest we fall.That which he had devised - Or, what he purposed. Zion's ruin was the fulfillment of God's determination, of which they had been forwarned from the days of old (see the margin reference).

Fulfilled - Or, finished.

17. Lord—Let not the foe exult as if it was their doing. It was "the Lord" who thus fulfilled the threats uttered by His prophets for the guilt of Judea (Le 26:16-25; De 28:36-48, 53; Jer 19:9).


God hath not surprised us by these providences, he gave us notice what he would do, and hath done no more than what he threatened long since, Leviticus 26:16, &c.; Deu 28:15, &c. It is true lie hath severely punished us, so as in his dispensation there appear no prints of pity, he hath set up our enemies, and hath made them to triumph over his people, but in all this he hath but justified his truth, and fulfilled his word. The Lord hath done that which he had devised,.... It was not so much the Chaldeans that did it, though they ascribed it to themselves; but it was the Lord's doing, and what he had deliberately thought of, purposed and designed within himself; all whose purposes and devices certainly come to pass:

he hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old; not only by the mouth of Jeremiah, years ago, or in the times of Isaiah, long before him; but even in the days of Moses; see Leviticus 26:17, &c. Deuteronomy 28:20, &c. So the Targum,

"which he commanded to Moses the prophet from ancient days, that if the children of Israel would not keep the commands of the Lord, he would take vengeance on them:''

he hath thrown down, and hath not pitied; he hath thrown down, or caused to be thrown down, without any pity, the walls of Jerusalem; and not only the houses and palaces in it, but also his own house, the temple:

and he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee; giving thorn victory, and putting all into their hands; on which they insulted them, and gloried over them:

he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries; increased their strength and power, their kingdom and authority; and which swelled their pride, and made them more haughty and insolent.

The LORD hath done that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old: he hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: and he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee, he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries.
17. fulfilled] mg. finished. Cp. the same Heb. verb in Isaiah 10:12 “perform.”

in the days of old] That which had happened was in fulfilment of the warnings of Leviticus 26:14 ff., Deuteronomy 28:15, as well as of the prophets.

He hath exalted the horn of thine adversaries] See on Lamentations 2:3, and cp. 1 Samuel 2:1; 1 Samuel 2:10; also Psalm 89:42.Verse 17. - His word that he had commanded, etc. "Commanded," i.e. given in charge to. Comp. Zechariah 1:6, My words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets." Zechariah continues, in language which illustrates the foregoing words of this verse, "Did they not take hold of [overtake] your fathers;" where the persons spoken of as "your fathers" are the same as those who are represented by the speaker of the elegy. "In the days of old;" alluding, perhaps, to such passages as Deuteronomy 28:52, etc. The horn of thine adversaries. "Horn" has a twofold meaning - "strength" or "defence" (comp. ver. 3), and "honour" or "dignity" (comp. 1 Samuel 2:1). The figure is too natural to need explanation. The impotence of human comfort, and the mockery of enemies. Lamentations 2:11. The misery that has befallen the people is so fearful, that sorrow over it wears out one's life. "Mine eyes pine away because of tears," is the complaint of the prophet, not merely for himself personally, but in the name of all the godly ones. "Mine eyes pine" is the expression used in Psalm 69:4. On חמרמרוּ מעי, cf. Lamentations 1:20. The expression, "my liver is poured out on the earth," occurs nowhere else, and is variously explained. That the liver is fons sanguinis, and thus the seat of the animal life (Rosenmller, Thenius), cannot be made out from Proverbs 7:23. This passage rather forms a proof that among the Hebrews, according to a view widely prevalent in ancient times, the liver was considered the seat of sensual desire and lust (cf. Delitzsch's Bib. Psychology, Clark's translation, p. 316). But this view is insufficient as an explanation of the passage now before us. Besides, there are no proofs to show that "liver" is used for "heart," or even for "gall," although Job 16:13 is unwarrantably adduced in support of this position. A closely related expression, certainly, is found in Job 30:16; Psalm 42:5, where the soul is said to be poured out; but the liver is different from נפשׁ, the principle of the corporeal life. If the liver was called כּבד because, according to Galen, de usu partium, vi. 17 (in Gesen. Thes. p. 655), omnium viscerum et densissimum et gravissimum est, then it may be regarded, instead of מעים, as the chief bodily organ through which not merely lust, but also pain, is felt; and the pouring out of the liver on the earth may thus mean that the inner man is dissolved in pain and sorrow, - perishes, as it were, through pain. For it is evident from the context, and universally admitted, that it is the effect of pain in consuming the bodily organs that is here meant to be expressed. שׁבר בּת עמּי is a genuine Jeremianic expression (cf. Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 8:11, Jeremiah 8:21, etc.), which again occurs in Lamentations 2:13, Lamentations 3:47-48, and Lamentations 4:10. In what follows, some harrowing details are given regarding the destruction of the daughter of Zion. בּעטף for בּהעטף, while (or because) children and sucklings were pining away on the streets of the city. This figure of heartrending misery is further carried out in Lamentations 2:12, for the purpose of vividly setting forth the terrible distress. Gerlach is wrong in thinking that the writer brings forward such sad scenes as would be likely to present themselves in the period immediately after the destruction of the city. For, the fact that, in Lamentations 2:10, the eye of the mourner is directed to the present, is far from being a proof that Lamentations 2:11 and Lamentations 2:12 also treat of the present; and the imperfect יאמרוּ, Lamentations 2:12, is not parallel in time with ישׁבוּ, Lamentations 2:12, but designates the repetition of the action in past time. "The children say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine?" i.e., Give us bread and wine, or, Where can we eat and drink? Corn and must (as in Jeremiah 31:12, etc.) are mentioned as the usual means of nourishment of the Israelites. דּגן, "corn," is used poetically for bread (cf. Psalm 78:24), - not pounded or roasted grain, which was used without further preparation (Thenius), and which is called קלי, Leviticus 23:14; 1 Samuel 17:17; 2 Samuel 17:28. The sucklings poured out their soul, i.e., breathed out their life, into the bosom of their mothers, i.e., hugging their mothers, although these could not give them nourishment; cf. Lamentations 4:4.
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