Lamentations 3:56
Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(56) Thou hast heard . . . hide not thine . . .—There is something eminently suggestive in the sequence of the two clauses. The recollection that prayer was answered in the past, prompts its utterance in the present. Historically, the words may point to the intervention of Ebed-melech in Jeremiah 38:7.

At my breathingi.e., the “sighs” or “sobs” of the mourner.

3:55-66 Faith comes off conqueror, for in these verses the prophet concludes with some comfort. Prayer is the breath of the new man, drawing in the air of mercy in petitions, and returning it in praises; it proves and maintains the spiritual life. He silenced their fears, and quieted their spirits. Thou saidst, Fear not. This was the language of God's grace, by the witness of his Spirit with their spirits. And what are all our sorrows, compared with those of the Redeemer? He will deliver his people from every trouble, and revive his church from every persecution. He will save believers with everlasting salvation, while his enemies perish with everlasting destruction.Thou hast heard - In sending Ebedmelech to deliver me. The next clause signifies "Hide not thine ear to my relief to my cry," i. e. to my cry for relief.56. Thou hast heard—namely formerly (so in La 3:57, 58).

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

I in former great afflictions applied myself unto thee, and thou didst hear me; show me now the same favour. Our former experiences of God’s goodness to us in hearing our prayers ought to hold up our hands in prayer, mid beget a confidence in us that we, persisting in our duty, shall find God the same God, yesterday, this day, and for ever.

Thou hast heard my voice,.... Either in times past, when he cried unto him, and was delivered; and this was an encouragement to call upon him again in such extremity, who had shown himself to be a God hearing and answering prayer; hence it follows:

hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry; turn not a deaf ear to me, who hast been wont to hear me heretofore; stop not thine ear at my cry now, at my prayer, which he calls his "breathing"; prayer is the breath of a soul regenerated by the Spirit, and is a sign and evidence of life, when it is spiritual; in it a soul pants after God, and communion with him, and salvation by him. Some render it, "at my gasping" (s); or "panting", for breath; just ready to expire, unless immediate help is given: or else the whole of this refers to the present time, when the Lord heard and answered, not only the first clause, but this also; which may be rendered, not by way of petition, but affirmation, "thou didst not hide thine ear at my breathing, at my cry" (t); and this agrees both with what goes before, and with what is expressed in Lamentations 3:57.

(s) "ad anhelitum meum", Cocceius; "ad respirationem meam", Pagnius, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (t) "non avertisti", Grotius.

Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
56. The word rendered “breathing” occurs but once elsewhere (Exodus 8:15 [Heb. Lamentations 3:11]), and has there the sense of respite, relief. Accordingly Ewald proposes (by a change of one consonant) to render my cry, and consider “at my cry” to be a gloss.

Verse 56. - At my breathing; rather, at my sighing; literally, at my relieving myself. Lamentations 3:56"Thou hast heard my voice" expresses the full assurance of faith from which the request comes: "Cover not Thine ear from my sighing." רוחה, "breathing out again;" in Ezekiel 8:11, mitigation of oppression, yet not here respiratio, relaxatio (C. B. Michaelis, Rosenmller, etc.), - since the asyndetic לשׁועתי does not accord with such an interpretation, - but a relieving of oneself by means of deeply-drawn sighs, as in Job 32:20; hence "sighing," as Luther has already rendered it, following the Vulgate: ne avertas aurem tuum a singultu meo (Thenius, Gerlach, etc.). - In Lamentations 3:57 and Lamentations 3:58, the writer still more fully expresses his confidence that the Lord will accept him. "Thou art near on the day when I call on Thee" is a sentence found in Psalm 145:18, and uttered as the experience of all believers. "Thou sayest, Fear not," i.e., Thou assurest me of Thine assistance; cf. Jeremiah 1:8, Jeremiah 1:17, etc. "Thou dost conduct the causes (Ger. Streitsachen) of my soul" (ריבי נפשׁי), i.e., not merely "my lawsuits," but causas quae vitam et salutem meam concernunt (C. B. Michaelis). This is shown by the parallel member, "Thou redeemest my life," sc. from the destruction which threatens it; cf. Lamentations 3:53., Psalm 103:4. With this is connected the request in Lamentations 3:59, "Thou dost certainly see my oppression" (עוּתה from עוּת, to bend, oppress), the oppression which I suffer; "judge my cause," i.e., help me in my cause, cf. Jeremiah 5:28. The suppliant bases this request, Lamentations 3:60-62, on the recollection that God, as the Omniscient One, knows the plans and intentions of his opponents. "Thou seest all their plans for revenge." נקמה is not here the outcome of revenge, but the thought of revenge cherished in the heart; it does not, however, mean desire of revenge, or revengeful disposition, but simply the thinking and meditating on revenge, which certainly has the spirit of revenge for its basis, but is not identical with this. Their thoughts are the plans of vengeance. ,ליdat. incomm., "to my hurt;" the reading עלי of some codices is simply a correction after Lamentations 3:61. This revenge they express in reproaches and invectives. שׂפתי, "lips," for utterances of the lips; and קמי as in Psalm 18:40, Psalm 18:49 equals קמים עלי, Psalm 4:3, etc. שׂפתי קמי corresponds to חרפּתם, and חגיונם to מחשׁבתם, Lamentations 3:61; and the whole of Lamentations 3:62 still depends on "Thou hearest," without any need for supplying היוּ, as Rosenmller does. Thenius and Ngelsbach would combine Lamentations 3:62 with 63, and make the former dependent on הבּיטה; but this is unsuitable, nor do they consider that utterances or words are not seen (הבּיט), but heard (שׁמע). With this proposed combination there falls to the ground the further remark of Thenius, that "by lips, devising, sitting, rising up, are meant the conversation and consultation of the enemies one with another." Sitting and rising up have nothing in common with speaking about any subject, but merely form a circumlocution for action generally: cf. Psalm 139:2; Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 11:19; Isaiah 37:28. The form מנגּינה for נגינה occurs nowhere else: Ewald considers it a form that has been lengthened for the purpose of designating a mocking song - "Sing-song." This supposition has at least more to recommend it than the ingenious but worthless idea of Bttcher, that מנגּינה is contracted from מה־נגינה, "what a stringed instrument am I to them;" but it also is improbable. מנגּינה is the subject of the נגינה, as words formed with מ often express merely the subject of the idea contained in a noun or verb; cf. Ewald, 160, b, 3. After this statement of the hostile treatment which the speaker has to suffer, there follows the renewed and further extended request that God may reward the foes according to their deeds. תּשׁיב, "Thou shalt return," is a confident expression of the request that God would do this; hence the optative תּתּן follows in Lamentations 3:65. In Lamentations 3:64 is condensed the substance of what is contained in Psalm 28:4. מגנּת לב, covering (veil) of the heart, - an expression analogous to the κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τὴν καρδίαν, 2 Corinthians 3:15, - is not obduration, or hardening, but blinding of the heart, which casts into destruction; but it can scarcely signify "madness" (Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychology, Clark's translation), since the Arabic majannat, insania, furor, has probably received this meaning from jinn, genius, daemon; cf. Gesenius, Thes. s. v., and Rosenmller, ad h. l. "Thy curse to them!" is not to be viewed as dependent on "give," but to be explained in accordance with Psalm 3:9, "Thy blessing [be] upon Thy people!" - thus, "May Thy curse be their portion!" The curse of God is followed by destruction. "Destroy them from under Jahveh's heaven!" i.e., not merely ut non sint amplius sub caelis (C. B. Michaelis), because יהוה is not considered in this latter rendering. The heaven of Jahveh is the whole world, over which Jahveh's authority extends; the meaning therefore is, "Exterminate them wholly from the sphere of Thy dominion in the world," or, Thy kingdom.
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