Lamentations 4:2
The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!
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(2) The precious sons of Zion . . .—The adjective is applied not to a special class, priests, nobles, or the like, but to all the sons of Zion” in their ideal character as a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6). They had been “comparable to” (literally, weighed with), i.e., equal to their weight in, fine gold, the work of God. Now they had became as “earthen pitchers,” the work of the potter. We note the comparison as characteristic of the writer (Jeremiah 18:1-6; Jeremiah 19:1-10).

4:1-12 What a change is here! Sin tarnishes the beauty of the most exalted powers and the most excellent gifts; but that gold, tried in the fire, which Christ bestows, never will be taken from us; its outward appearance may be dimmed, but its real value can never be changed. The horrors of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem are again described. Beholding the sad consequences of sin in the church of old, let us seriously consider to what the same causes may justly bring down the church now. But, Lord, though we have gone from thee in rebellion, yet turn to us, and turn our hearts to thee, that we may fear thy name. Come to us, bless us with awakening, converting, renewing, confirming grace.The precious sons of Zion - The whole nation was consecrated to God, and formed "a kingdom of priests" Exodus 19:6 : in this respect, a type of the Christian Church 1 Peter 2:5.

Comparable to fine gold - literally, "weighed with" solid gold, and so equal to their weight in it. With this is contrasted the hollow pitcher easily broken, and made of materials of no intrinsic value.

2. comparable to … gold—(Job 28:16, 19).

earthen pitchers—(Isa 30:14; Jer 19:11).


Either the nobles and great men, or the priests, or the good men amongst the Jews, that for their intrinsic worth and value may be compared to gold, are looked upon no better than earthen vessels, the workmanship of an ordinary potter. God carrying Jeremiah down to the potter’s house, Jeremiah 18:2 19:1, had taught them that they were no more in his hand; he now proveth it by his providence, they were indeed made so, and as miserably and irreparably broken in pieces. The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold,.... This explains what is meant in Lamentations 4:1; by gold, fine gold, and stones of the sanctuary; not Josiah and his sons, as some Jewish interpreters; but all the sons of Zion, or children of God; not the inhabitants of Zion literally, but spiritually; see Zechariah 9:13. Zion is the church; her sons are her spiritual seed and offspring that are born of her, she being the mother of them all, and born in her, by means of the word; and brought up by her, through the ordinances, and so are regenerate persons; and these the sons of God: and who are "precious", not in themselves, being of the fallen race of Adam; of the earth, earthly, as he was; of the same mass and lump with the rest of mankind; in no wise better than others, by nature; and have no intrinsic worth and value in them, but what comes by and from the grace of God; nor are they precious in their own esteem, and much less in the esteem of the men of the world; but in the eye of God, and of his son Jesus Christ, and of the blessed Spirit, and in the opinion of other saints; see Psalm 16:3; in what sense these are comparable to fine gold; see Gill on Lamentations 4:1;

how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter! they are indeed earthen vessels with respect to their bodies, frail, weak, and mortal; but they are the work of God's hands, even as creatures, and particularly as new creatures, and are a curious piece of his workmanship, and so valuable, and especially by him, who is as tender and as careful of them as the apple of his eye; and yet these are greatly disesteemed by carnal men, are reckoned as the faith of the world, and the offscouring of all things; as earthen vessels, fit for no use but common or dishonourable ones, or to be broke in pieces, and rendered useless and contemptible: see Psalm 31:12.

The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen {b} pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!

(b) Which are of small value and have no honour.

2. work of the hands of the potter] as helpless as the earth which is moulded by him.Verse 2. - The precious sons of Zion; i.e. not merely the nobility, but the people of Judah in general. It is needless (as the literal interpreters of ver. 1 are compelled to do) to alter b'ne (sons) into batte (houses) or abne (stones). The comparison of men to potters' vessels is familiar to the Hebrew writers (comp. Isaiah 22:24; Isaiah 45:9). "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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