Published on October 18, 2016
1. LAME TATIO S 2 COMME TARY EDITED BY GLE PEASE 1 [a]How the Lord has covered Daughter Zion with the cloud of his anger[b]! He has hurled down the splendor of Israel from heaven to earth; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger. BAR ES, "How ... - Or, “How” doth “אדני 'ădonāy cover.” He hath east down etc. By God’s footstool seems to be meant the ark. See Psa_99:5 note. CLARKE, "How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud - The women in the eastern countries wear veils, and often very costly ones. Here, Zion is represented as being veiled by the hand of God’s judgment. And what is the veil? A dark cloud, by which she is entirely obscured. Instead of אדני Adonai, lord, twenty-four of Dr. Kennicott’s MSS., and some of the most ancient of my own, read יהוה Yehovah, Lord, as in Lam_2:2. The beauty of Israel - His Temple. His footstool - The ark of the covenant, often so called. The rendering of my old MS. Bible is curious: - And record not of his litil steging-stole of his feet, in the dai of his woodnesse. To be wood signifies, in our ancient language, to be mad. GILL, "How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger,.... Not their persons for protection, as he did the Israelites at the Red sea, and in the wilderness; nor their sins, which he blots out as a thick cloud; or with such an one as he filled the tabernacle and temple with when dedicated; for this was "in his anger", in the day of his anger, against Jerusalem; but with the thick and black clouds of calamity
2. and distress; he "beclouded" (r) her, as it may be rendered, and is by Broughton; he drew a veil, or caused a cloud to come over all her brightness and glory, and surrounded her with darkness, that her light and splendour might not be seen. Aben Ezra interprets it, "he lifted her up to the clouds": that is, in order to cast her down with the greater force, as follows: and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel; all its glory, both in church and state; this was brought down from the highest pitch of its excellency and dignity, to the lowest degree of infamy and reproach; particularly this was true of the temple, and service of God in it, which was the beauty and glory of the nation, but now utterly demolished: and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger; to spare and preserve that; meaning either the house of the sanctuary, the temple itself, as the Targum and Jarchi; or rather the ark with the mercy seat, on which the Shechinah or divine Majesty set his feet, when sitting between the cherubim; and is so called, 1Ch_28:2. HE RY 1-4, "It is a very sad representation which is here made of the state of God's church, of Jacob and Israel, of Zion and Jerusalem; but the emphasis in these verses seems to be laid all along upon the hand of God in the calamities which they were groaning under. The grief is not so much that such and such things are done as that God has done them, that he appears angry with them; it is he that chastens them, and chastens them in wrath and in his hot displeasure; he has become their enemy, and fights against them; and this, this is the wormwood and the gall in the affliction and the misery. I. Time was when God's delight was in his church, and he appeared to her, and appeared for her, as a friend. But now his displeasure is against her; he is angry with her, and appears and acts against her as an enemy. This is frequently repeated here, and sadly lamented. What he has done he has done in his anger; this makes the present day a melancholy day indeed with us, that it is the day of his anger (Lam_2:1), and again (Lam_2:2) it is in his wrath, and (Lam_2:3) it is in his fierce anger, that he has thrown down and cut off, and (Lam_2:6) in the indignation of his anger. Note, To those who know how to value God's favour nothing appears more dreadful than his anger; corrections in love are easily borne, but rebukes in love wound deeply. It is God's wrath that burns against Jacob like a flaming fire (Lam_2:3), and it is a consuming fire; it devours round about, devours all her honours, all her comforts. This is the fury that is poured out like fire (Lam_2:4), like the fire and brimstone which were rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah; but it was their sin that kindled this fire. God is such a tender Father to his children that we may be sure he is never angry with them but when they provoke him, and give him cause to be angry; nor is he ever angry more than there is cause for. God's covenant with them was that if they would obey his voice he would be an enemy to their enemies (Exo_23:22), and he had been so as long as they kept close to him; but now he is an enemy to them; at least he is as an enemy, Lam_2:5. He has bent his bow like an enemy, Lam_2:4. He stood with his right hand stretched out against them, and a sword drawn in it as an adversary. God is not really an enemy to his people, no, not when he is angry with them and corrects them in anger. We may be sorely displeased against our dearest friends and relations, whom yet we are far from having an enmity to. But sometimes he is as an enemy to them, when all his providences concerning them seem in outward appearance to have a tendency to their ruin, when every thing made against them and nothing for them. But, blessed be God, Christ is our
3. peace, our peacemaker, who has slain the enmity, and in him we may agree with our adversary, which it is our wisdom to do, since it is in vain to contend with him, and he offers us advantageous conditions of peace. II. Time was when God's church appeared very bright, and illustrations, and considerable among the nations; but now the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud (Lam_2:1), a dark cloud, which is very terrible to himself, and through which she cannot see his face; a thick cloud (so that word signifies), a black cloud, which eclipses all her glory and conceals her excellency; not such a cloud as that under which God conducted them through the wilderness, or that in which God took possession of the temple and filled it with his glory: no, that side of the cloud is now turned towards them which was turned towards the Egyptians in the Red Sea. The beauty of Israel is now cast down from heaven to the earth; their princes (2Sa_1:19), their religious worship, their beauty of holiness, all that which recommended them to the affection and esteem of their neighbours and rendered them amiable, which had lifted them up to heaven, was now withered and gone, because God had covered it with a cloud. He has cut off all the horn of Israel (Lam_2:3), all her beauty and majesty (Psa_132:17), all her plenty and fulness, and all her power and authority. They had, in their pride, lifted up their horn against God, and therefore justly will God cut off their horn. He disabled them to resist and oppose their enemies; he turned back their right hand, so that they were not able to follow the blow which they gave nor to ward off the blow which was given them. What can their right hand do against the enemy when God draws it back, and withers it, as he did Jeroboam's? Thus was the beauty of Israel cast down, when a people famed for courage were not able to stand their ground nor make good their post. JAMISO , "How — The title of the collection repeated here, and in Lam_4:1. covered ... with a cloud — that is, with the darkness of ignominy. cast down from heaven unto ... earth — (Mat_11:23); dashed down from the highest prosperity to the lowest misery. beauty of Israel — the beautiful temple (Psa_29:2; Psa_74:7; Psa_96:9, Margin; Isa_60:7; Isa_64:11). his footstool — the ark (compare 1Ch_28:2, with Psa_99:5; Psa_132:7). They once had gloried more in the ark than in the God whose symbol it was; they now feel it was but His “footstool,” yet that it had been a great glory to them that God deigned to use it as such. CALVI , "The Prophet again exclaims in wonder, that an incredible thing had happened, which was like a prodigy; for at the first sight it seemed very unreasonable, that a people whom God had not only received into favor, but with whom he had made a perpetual covenant, should thus be forsaken by him. For though men were a hundred times perfidious, yet God never changes, but remains unchangeable in his faithfulness; and we know that his covenant was not made to depend on the merits of men. Whatsoever, then, the people might be, yet it behooved God to continue in his purpose, and not to annul the promise made to Abraham. ow, when Jerusalem was reduced to desolation, there was as it were all abolition of God’s covenant. There is, then, no wonder that the Prophet here exclaims, as on account of some prodigy, How can it be that God hath clouded or darkened, etc.
4. We must, however, observe at the same time, that the Prophet did not mean here to invalidate the fidelity or constancy of God, but thus to rouse the attention of his own nation, who had become torpid in their sloth; for though they were pressed down under a load of evils, yet they had become hardened in their perverseness. But it was impossible that any one should really call on God, except he was humbled in mind, and brought the sacrifice of which we have spoken, even a humble and contrite spirit. (Psalms 51:19.) It was, then, the Prophet’s object to soften the hardness which he knew prevailed in almost the whole people. This was the reason why he exclaimed, in a kind of astonishment, How has God clouded, etc. (148) Some render the words, “How has God raised up,” etc., which may be allowed, provided it be not taken in a good sense, for it is said, in his wrath; but in this case the words to raise up and to cast down ought to be read conjointly; for when one wishes to break in pieces an earthen vessel, he not only casts it on the ground, but he raises it up, that it may be thrown down with greater force. We may, then, take this meaning, that God, in order that he might with greater violence break in pieces his people, had raised them up, not to honor them, but in order to dash them more violently on the ground. However, as this sense seems perhaps too refined, I am content with the first explanation, that God had clouded the daughter of Zion in his wrath; and then follows an explanation, that he had cast her from heaven to the earth. So then God covered with darkness his people, when he drew them down from the high dignity which they had for a time enjoyed. He had, then, cast on the earth all the glory of Israel, and remembered not his footstool The Prophet seems here indirectly to contend with God, because he had not spared his own sanctuary; for God, as it has been just stated, had chosen Mount Sion for himself, where he designed to be prayed to, because he had placed there the memorial of his name. As, then, he had not spared his own sanctuary, it did not appear consistent with his constancy, and he also seemed thus to have disregarded his own glory. But the design of the Prophet is rather to shew to the people how much God’s wrath had been kindled, when he spared not even his own sanctuary. For he takes this principle as granted, that God is never without reason angry, and never exceeds the due measure of punishment. As, then, God’s wrath was so great that he destroyed his own Temple, it was a token of dreadful wrath; and what was the cause but the sins of men? for God, as I have said, always preserves moderation in his judgments. He, then, could not have better expressed to the people the heinousness of their sins, than by laying before them this fact, that God remembered not his footstool And the Temple, by a very suitable metaphor, is called the footstool of God. It is, indeed, called his habitation; for in Scripture the Temple is often said to be the house of God. It was then the house, the habitation, and the rest of God. But as men are ever inclined to superstition, in order to raise up their thoughts above earthly elements, we are reminded, on the other hand, in Scripture, that the Temple was the footstool of God. So in the Psalms, “Adore ye before his footstool,” (Psalms 99:5;)
5. and again, “We shall adore in the place where his feet stand.” (Psalms 132:7.) We, then, see that the two expressions, apparently different, do yet well agree, that the Temple was the house of God and his habitation, and that yet it was only his footstool. It was the house of God, because the faithful found by experience that he was there present; as, then, God gave tokens of his presence, the Temple was rightly called the house; of God, his rest and habitation. But that the faithful might not fix their minds on the visible sanctuary, and thus by indulging a gross imagination, fall into superstition, and put an idol in the place of God, the Temple was called the footstool of God. For as it was a footstool, it behooved the faithful to rise up higher and to know that God was really sought, only when they raised their thoughts above the world. We now perceive what was the purpose of this mode of speaking. God is said not to have remembered his Temple, not because he had wholly disregarded it, but because the destruction of the Temple could produce no other opinion in men. All, then, who saw that the Temple had been burnt by profane hands, and pulled down after it had been plundered, thought that the Temple was forsaken by God; and so also he speaks by Ezekiel, (Ezekiel 10:18.) Then this oblivion, or not remembering, refers to the thoughts of men; for however God may have remembered the Temple, yet he seemed for a time to have disregarded it. We must, at the same time, bear in mind what I have said, that the Prophet here did not intend to dispute with God, or to contend with him, but, on the contrary, to shew what the people deserved; for God was so indignant on account of their sins, that he suffered his own Temple to be profaned. The same thing also follows respecting the kingdom, — Why should the Lord in his wrath becloud the daughter of Sion? And if ,ישבה in Lamentations 1:1, be in the future tense, as it may be, that clause may be rendered in the same way, — Why should sit alone the city that was full of people? Then follows here, as in the former instance, a description of what had happened to Sion, — He hath cast from heaven to earth the glory of Israel, And not remembered his footstool in the day of his wrath. At the same time, the clauses may both be rendered as proposed in a note on Lamentations 1:1, and the tenses of the verbs be preserved. The verb here is clearly in the future tense, and the verb in the former instance may be so; and the future in
6. Hebrew is often to be taken as the present, as the case is in Welsh. How this! in his wrath becloud does the Lord the daughter of Sion! — Ed. TRAPP, " How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, [and] cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger! Ver. 1. How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion witha cloud!] Heb., With a thick cloud: nothing like that bright cloud wherein he appeared to his people, as a token of his grace, at the dedication of the temple. [1 Kings 8:10] How comes it about, and what may be the reason for it? Oh in what a wonderful manner and by what strange means hath the Lord now clouded and covered his people (whom he had established as Mount Zion) with blackest calamities and confusions, taking all the lustre of happiness and of hope from her, and that in his anger, and again in the day of his anger! “ Tantaene animis coelestibus irae? ” And cast down from heaven to earth,] i.e., From the highest pitch of felicity to the lowest plight of misery. This was afterwards indeed Caperuaum’s case; but when Micah the Morashite prophesied in the times of Jeremiah that "Zion should be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem laid on heaps," [Micah 3:12 Jeremiah 26:18] it seemed a paradox, and very few believed them. Christ’s disciples also had a conceit that the temple and the world must needs have one and the same period, which occasioned that mixed discourse made by our Saviour. [Matthew 24:1-3] But God’s gracious presence is not tied to a place. The ark, God’s footstool (as here it is called) was transportative till settled in Zion; so is the Church militant in continual motion, till it come to triumph in heaven; and those that with Capernaum are lifted up to heaven in the abundance of means, may be brought down to hell for an instance of divine vengeance. And remembered not his footstool.] The temple, and therein the ark, to teach them that he was not wholly there included, neither ought now to be sought and worshipped anywhere but above. Sursum corda. PARKER, ""How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger!"— Lamentations 2:1 Still the prophet is dwelling upon the sufferings of Jerusalem. The image is that of an infinite thundercloud dissolving in a tremendous tempest, under which the beauty of Israel perishes and the temple itself is overthrown. It is supposed that the
7. "footstool" is the Ark of the Cover ant, which was involved in the destruction of the temple. It is to be noticed that the word "Lord" here is not Jehovah, but Adonai: by such changes of designation, moral change on the part of Jerusalem is indicated. Sometimes the minor name is used, and sometimes the major, according as Jerusalem realises the greatness of its sin or the nearness and love of God. All God"s acceptances of humanity are conditional. We are only safe so long as we are obedient. God keeps his thunder for his friends as certainly as for his enemies, if they be unfaithful to the covenant which unites them: nay, would it not be correct to say that a more terrible thunder is reserved for those who, knowing the right, yet pursue the wrong? "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." If we had been in darkness God would have been pitiful to us, but because we say, We see, therefore our sin remaineth. Even the ark has no meaning to God as a mere piece of mechanism; it is only of value in proportion as it represents in living activity the law and the mercy which it symbolises. We cannot live in a holy past: we can only live in a sacred present; not because a lifetime ago we prayed and served and did our duty lovingly can we be saved. We are what we are from day to day. Yesterday"s virtue is not set down against this day"s negligence. As every day must bear its own burden, so every day must witness to its own faithfulness. othing is carried over from the account of yesterday to the account of today. Each link in the whole chain of life must be strong, or the chain itself will give way at the weakest point. COFFMA , "WHAT THE LORD HAD DO E TO ZIO  "This chapter is all taken up with God. In Lamentations 2:1-12, all the woes are bemoaned as being God's work, and His alone; and Lamentations 2:13-17 give a short resume of this; Lamentations 2:18f urges the city to cry to God for help; and, in Lamentations 2:20-22, she does so." "The main point of this chapter is that it was God Himself who destroyed the people and their city; and the writer seldom strays very far from that main point." Significantly, the details of this chapter could hardly have been provided by any other than an eyewitness of the destruction, which points squarely to Jeremiah as the author, as traditionally accepted. Green also noticed this: "The tone of it places this chapter very near the year 587 B.C. when the tragedy occurred. In fact, it appears to be an eyewitness account of that tragedy." The chapter has been subdivided variously by different scholars; but we shall follow this outline: (1) a graphic picture of the divine visitation (Lamentations 2:1-10); (2) details regarding the distress and despair of the people (Lamentations 2:11-17); and (3) the prayer of the people to God for help (Lamentations 2:18-22). "This prayer is different from the one in the previous chapter, "Because the element of imprecation is missing from it." Lamentations 2:1-10 GRAPHIC PICTURE OF THE DIVI E VISITATIO UPO JUDAH
8. " ow hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger! He hath cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, And hath not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger. The Lord hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob, and hath not pitied: He hath thrown down in his wrath the strongholds of the daughter of Judah; He hath brought them down to the ground; he hath profaned the kingdom and the princes thereof. He hath cut off in fierce anger all the horn of Israel; He hath drawn back his right hand from before the enemy: And he hath burned up Jacob like a flaming fire, which devoureth round about. He hath bent his bow like an enemy, he hath stood with his right hand as an adversary, and hath slain all that were pleasant to the eye: In the tent of the daughter of Zion he hath poured out his wrath like fire. The Lord is become as an enemy, he hath swallowed up Israel; He hath swallowed up all her palaces, he hath destroyed all his strongholds; And he hath multiplied in the daughter of Judah
9. mourning and lamentation. And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden; he hath destroyed his place of assembly: Jehovah hath caused solemn assembly and sabbath to be forgotten in Zion, And hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest. The Lord hath cast off his altar, he hath abhorred his sanctuary; He hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces: They have made a noise in the house of Jehovah, as in the day of a solemn assembly. Jehovah hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion; He hath stretched out the line, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: And he hath made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languish together. Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken her bars: Her king and her princes are among the nations where the law is not;
10. Yea, her prophets find no vision from Jehovah. The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground; they keep silence; They cast up dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth: The virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground." The word "anger" occurs three times in this paragraph and the word "wrath" is found twice. Of all the attributes of God which appear in his word, none is more generally neglected and denied than this very one, namely, that the fierce anger of God will ultimately rage against human wickedness, as exhibited in these verses. The God of American Pulpits today is generally extolled as a namby-pamby, an old fuddy duddy, somewhat like an over-indulgent old grandfather, too lazy, indifferent or unconcerned to do anything whatever, no matter what crimes of blood and lust roar like a tornado under his very nose. The Bible does not support such an image of God! Yes, He is a God who loves mankind, who gave His Son upon the Cross for human redemption. He is a God of mercy, forgiveness, grace and forbearance, but when any man or any nation has fully demonstrated final rejection of God's love and their rebellion against His eternal law, that wonderful, loving, forgiving God will at last appear in His character as the enemy of that man or that nation. The background of all these terrible things that happened to Jacob is the almost unbelievable wickedness of the Chosen People. A major part of the Old Testament is little more than a brief summary of that wickedness: "The Lord hath covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger" (Lamentations 2:1). During the exodus, God had shielded the Chosen People with a cloud, the dark side of which confronted Egypt; but now it is the remnant of Israel that faces the ugly side of the cloud! Throughout this chapter there appears the screaming fact that it is God Himself who has brought all of the evil upon His sinful people. "That was the wormwood and the gall in their terrible affliction." "Cast down from heaven unto the earth" (Lamentations 2:2). What a change there was from the glory of Solomon to the very bottom of the social ladder. Israel at this point had become the slaves of the Gentiles. "He hath thrown down ... the strongholds ... of Judah" (Lamentations 2:3). But was it not Babylon that did that? o! It was God who did it; Babylon was merely God's
11. instrument. "He hath cut off all the horn of Israel" (Lamentations 2:3). The horn was a well- known symbol of power. Cheyne noted that a better rendition would be "every horn." "It referred to all the strongholds, especially the fortresses." We especially liked Hiller's blunt rendition, "God lopped off the horns of Israel." Or, as we might paraphrase it: "God dehorned His sinful people." "He hath burned up Jacob like a flaming fire" (Lamentations 2:3). The conception that God's anger is like a terrible fire is not merely an Old Testament metaphor. "To the wicked God, at any time, may become a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29; Deuteronomy 4:24)." "God, in these verses, is represented as a furious warrior, who with irresistible power destroyed everything that Judah had trusted in. They had stopped trusting in God, and instead were relying on might (Lamentations 2:2), palaces (Lamentations 2:5), strongholds (Lamentations 2:5), the physical Temple (Lamentations 2:6)." All these were destroyed. "He hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden" (Lamentations 2:6). Solomon's temple was not God's tabernacle to begin with, but Solomon's corrupted replacement of it. evertheless the Jews had trusted in it as their security and salvation. The wonder expressed here is that God removed it and destroyed it so easily, "as if of a garden." "God removed his Temple as easily as a farmer removes a vintage booth (a tiny arbor), which had served its purpose, from a garden." In summer time, one may often see such little shelters near orchards and gardens, where the sellers of fruits, etc, could be sheltered from the sun. This terrible destruction of the Temple sends the Bible student back to the very origin of it in the mind of David; and the undeniable fact that David and his son Solomon were wrong in the building of it. (See 2 Samuel 7). "They have made a noise in the house of Jehovah, as in the day of a solemn assembly" (Lamentations 2:7). This `noise,' however was different. It was the boisterous, profane and obscene cries of the Chaldean soldiers screaming and shouting their delight as they looted and destroyed the marvelous treasures of the Temple. It was a horrible contrast with the sweet songs of the Temple virgins and the solemn liturgies of the priesthood. "The triumphant shouts of the enemy bore some resemblance to the sounds on a solemn feast day, but O how sad a contrast it was"! "God purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion" (Lamentations 2:8). " ebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian armies are here ignored! The capture of Jerusalem, far from being God's defeat, was a victory for his righteousness. See Isaiah 42:24ff. God's judicial displeasure against iniquity is a grim reality indeed for those who render themselves liable to receive it."
12. "Her king and her princes are among the nations where the law is not" (Lamentations 2:9). The ridiculous rendition of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) reads, "The law is no more," being not only a false translation but an outright falsehood also. The Law of Moses never ceased, until the Son of God nailed it to the cross. And, as the Lord said, "Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished" (Matthew 5:18). The tragedy of this crooked mistake in the RSV is that it is used by radical critics as, " otable evidence that the Torah was not regarded (when Lamentations was written) as a thing given through Moses in the far-off past." Thoughtful scholars will not be deceived by this tragic rendition in the Revised Standard Version. We thank God that the Anchor Bible gave us another acceptable translation of this passage; "The king and the princes are among the heathen (where) there is no instruction." With regard to the word "where" which the translators have supplied in the ASV, and which this writer supplied in the Anchor Bible, it does not occur in the KJV, where it was considered unnecessary, because the word Gentiles stands adjacent to and in front of the words there is no law, plainly indicating that it was among them, the Gentiles, that God's Law was not. There was never, in the long history of Israel after Sinai a single hour in which the Law of Moses did not exist. "The elders ... sit upon the ground ... the virgins hang down their heads" (Lamentations 2:10). "The elders open not their mouth in the gate as usual ... overwhelmed with grief ... in token of great grief, as did the friends of Job, they sit upon the ground and keep silent." CO STABLE, "Jeremiah pictured the sovereign Lord (Heb. "adonay) overshadowing Jerusalem, personified as a young woman, with a dark cloud because of His anger. The Lord had cast the city from the heights of glory to the depths of ignominy (cf. Isaiah 14:12). It had been as a footstool for His feet, but He had not given it preferential treatment in His anger. The footstool may be a reference to the ark of the covenant (cf. 1 Chronicles 28:2; Psalm 99:5) or the temple, but it probably refers to Jerusalem. Verses 1-10 A. God"s anger2:1-10 "There are about forty descriptions of divine judgment, which fell upon every aspect of the Jews" life: home, religion, society, physical, mental and spiritual. Some of the blackest phrases of the book appear here ..." [ ote: Irving L. Jensen, Jeremiah and Lamentations , p132.] EXPOSITOR'S BIBLE COMME TARY, "GOD AS A E EMY Lamentations 2:1-9 THE elegist, as we have seen, attributes the troubles of the Jews to the will and.
13. action of God. In the second poem he even ventures further, and with daring logic presses this idea to its ultimate issues. If God is tormenting His people in fierce anger it must be because He is their enemy-so the sad-hearted patriot reasons. The course of Providence does not shape itself to him as a merciful chastisement, as a veiled blessing; its motive seems to be distinctly unfriendly. He drives his dreadful conclusion home with great amplitude of details. In order to appreciate the force of it let us look at the illustrative passage in two ways-first, in view of the calamities inflicted on Jerusalem, all of which are here ascribed to God, and then with regard to those thoughts and purposes of their Divine Author which appear to be revealed in them. First, then, we have the earthly side of the process. The daughter of Zion is covered with a cloud. [Lamentations 2:1] The metaphor would be more striking in the brilliant East than it is to us in our habitually sombre climate. There it would suggest unwonted gloom-the loss of the customary light of heaven, rare distress, and excessive melancholy. It is a general, comprehensive image intended to overshadow all that follows. Terrible disasters cover the aspect of all things from zenith to horizon. The physical darkness that accompanied the horrors of Golgotha is here anticipated, not indeed by any actual prophecy, but in idea. But there is more than gloom. A mere cloud may lift, and discover everything unaltered by the passing shadow. The distress that has fallen on Jerusalem is not thus superficial and transient. She herself has suffered a fatal fall. The beauty of Israel has been cast down from heaven to earth. The language is now varied; instead of "the daughter of Zion" we have "the beauty of Israel." [Lamentations 2:1] The use of the larger title, "Israel," is not a little significant. It shews that the elegist is alive to the idea of the fundamental unity of his race, a unity which could not be destroyed by centuries of inter-tribal warfare. Although in the ungracious region of politics Israel stood aloof from Judah, the two peoples were frequently treated as one by poets and prophets when religious ideas were in mind. Here apparently the vastness of the calamities of Jerusalem has obliterated the memory of jealous distinctions. Similarly we may see the great English race-British and American- forgetting national divisions in pursuit of its higher religious aims, as in Christian missions; and we may be sure that this blood-unity would be felt most keenly under the shadow of a great trouble on either side of the Atlantic. By the time of the destruction of Jerusalem the northern tribes had been scattered, but the use of the distinctive name of these people is a sign that the ancient oneness of all who traced back their pedigree to the patriarch Jacob was still recognised. It is some compensation for the endurance of trouble to find it thus breaking down the middle wall of partition between estranged brethren. It has been suggested with probability that by the expression "the beauty of Israel" the elegist intended to indicate the temple. This magnificent pile of buildings, crowning one of the hills of Jerusalem, arid shining with gold in "barbaric splendour," was the central object of beauty among all the people who revered the worship it enshrined. Its situation would naturally suggest the language here employed. Jerusalem rises among the hills of Judah, some two thousand feet above
14. the sea-level; and when viewed from the wilderness in the south she looks indeed like a city built in the heavens. But the physical exaltation of Jerusalem and her temple was surpassed by exaltation in privilege, and prosperity, and pride. Capernaum, the vain city of the lake that would raise herself to heaven, is warned by Jesus that she shall be cast down to Hades. [Matthew 11:23] ow not only Jerusalem, but the glory of the race of Israel, symbolised by the central shrine of the national religion, is thus humiliated. Still keeping in mind the temple, the poet tells us that God has forgotten His footstool. He seems to be thinking of the Mercy-Seat over the ark, the spot at which God was thought to shew Himself propitious to Israel on the great Day of Atonement, and which was looked upon as the very centre of the Divine presence. In the destruction of the temple the holiest places were outraged, and the ark itself carried off or broken up, and never more heard of. How different was this from the story of the loss of the ark in the days of Eli, when the Philistines were constrained to send it home of their own accord! ow no miracle intervenes to punish the heathen for their sacrilege. Yes, surely God must have forgotten His footstool! So it seems to the sorrowful Jew, perplexed at the impunity with which this crime has been committed. But the mischief is not confined to the central shrine. It has extended to remote country regions and simple rustic folk. The shepherd’s hut has shared the fate of the temple of the Lord. All the habitations of Jacob-a phrase which in the original points to country cottages-have been swallowed up. [Lamentations 2:2] The holiest is not spared on account of its sanctity, neither is the lowliest on account of its obscurity. The calamity extends to all districts, to all things, to all classes. If the shepherd’s cot is contrasted with the temple and the ark because of its simplicity, the fortress may be contrasted with this defenceless hut because of its strength. Yet even the strongholds have been thrown down. More than this, the action of the Jews’ army has been paralysed by the God who had been its strength and support in the glorious olden time. It is as though the right hand of the warrior had been seized from behind and drawn back at the moment when it was raised to strike a blow for deliverance. The consequence is that the flower of the army, "all that were pleasant to the eye," [Lamentations 2:4] are slain. Israel herself is swallowed up, while her palaces and fortresses are demolished. The climax of this mystery of Divine destruction is reached when God destroys His own temple. The elegist returns to the dreadful subject as though fascinated by the terror of it. God has violently taken away His tabernacle. [Lamentations 1:6] The old historic name of the sanctuary of Israel recurs at this crisis of ruin; and it is particularly appropriate to the image which follows, an image which possibly it suggested. If we are to understand the metaphor of the sixth verse as it is rendered in the English Authorised and Revised Versions, we have to suppose a reference to some such booth of boughs as people were accustomed to put up for their shelter during the vintage, and which would be removed as soon as it had served its temporary purpose. The solid temple buildings had been swept away as easily as
15. though they were just such flimsy structures, as though they had been "of a garden." But we can read the text more literally, and still find good sense in it. According to the strict translation of the original, God is said to have violently taken away His tabernacle "as a garden." At the siege of a city the fruit gardens that encircle it are the first victims of the destroyer’s axe. Lying out beyond the walls they are entirely unprotected, while the impediments they offer to the movements of troops and instruments of war induce the commander to order their early demolition. Thus Titus had the trees cleared from the Mount of Olives, so that one of the first incidents in the Roman siege of Jerusalem must have been the destruction of the Garden of Gethsemane. ow the poet compares the ease with which the great massive temple-itself a powerful fortress, and enclosed within the city walls-was demolished, with the simple process of scouring the outlying gardens. So the place of assembly disappears, and with it the assembly itself, so that even the sacred Sabbath is passed over and forgotten. Then the two heads of the nation-the king, its civil ruler, and the priest, its ecclesiastical chief are both despised in the indignation of God’s anger. The central object of the sacred shrine is the altar, where earth seems to meet heaven in the high mystery of sacrifice. Here men seek to propitiate God; here too God would be expected to shew Himself gracious to men. Yet God has even cast off His altar, abhorring His very sanctuary. [Lamentations 2:7] Where mercy is most confidently anticipated, there of all places nothing but wrath and rejection are to be found. What prospect could be more hopeless? The deeper thought that God rejects His sanctuary because His people have first rejected Him is not brought forward just now. Yet this solution of the mystery is prepared by a contemplation of the utter failure of the old ritual of atonement. Evidently that is not always effective, for here it has broken down entirely; then can it ever be inherently efficacious? It cannot be enough to trust to a sanctuary and ceremonies which God Himself destroys. But further, out of this scene which was so perplexing to the pious Jew, there flashes to us the clear truth that nothing is so abominable in the sight of God as an attempt to worship Him on the part of people who are living at enmity with Him. We can also perceive that if God shatters our sanctuary, perhaps He does so in order to prevent us from making a fetich of it. Then the loss of shrine and altar and ceremony may be the saving of the superstitious worshipper who is thereby taught to turn to some more stable source of confidence. This, however, is not the line of reflections followed by the elegist in the present instance. His mind is possessed with one dark, awful, crushing thought. All this is God’s work. And why has God done it? The answer to that question is the idea that here dominates the mind of the poet. It is because God has become an enemy. There is no attempt to mitigate the force of this daring idea. It is stated in the strongest possible terms, and repeated again and again at every turn - Israel’s cloud is the effect of God’s anger; it has come in the day of His anger; God is acting with fierce anger, with a flaming fire of wrath. This must mean that God is decidedly inimical. He is behaving as an adversary; He bends His bow; He manifests violence. It is not
16. merely that God permits the adversaries of Israel to commit their ravages with impunity; God commits those ravages; He is Himself the enemy. He shews indignation. He despises, He abhors. And this is all deliberate. The destruction is carried out with the same care and exactitude that characterise the erection of a building. It is as though it were done with a measuring line. God surveys to destroy. The first thing to be noticed in this unhesitating ascription to God of positive enmity is the striking evidence it contains of faith in the Divine power, presence, and activity. These were no more visible to the mere observer of events in the destruction of Jerusalem than in the shattering of the French empire at Sedan. In the one case as in the other all that the world could see was the crushing military defeat and its fatal consequences. The victorious army of the Babylonians filled the field as completely in the old time as that of the Germans in the modern event. Yet the poet simply ignores its existence. He passes it with sublime indifference, his mind filled with the thought of the unseen Power behind. He has not a word for ebuchadnezzar, because he is assured that this mighty monarch is nothing but a tool in the hands of the real Enemy of the Jews. A man of smaller faith would not have penetrated sufficiently beneath the surface to have conceived the idea of Divine enmity in connection with a series of occurrences so very mundane as the ravages of war. A heathenish faith would have acknowledged in this defeat of Israel a triumph of the might of Bel or ebo over the power of Jehovah. Rut so convinced is the elegist of the absolute supremacy of his God that no such idea is suggested to him even as a temptation of unbelief. He knows that the action of the true God is supreme in everything that happens, whether the event be favourable or unfavourable to His people. Perhaps it is only owing to the dreary materialism of current thought that we should he less likely to discover an indication of the enmity of God in some huge national calamity. Still, although this idea of the elegist is a fruit of his unshaken faith in the universal sway of God, it startles and shocks us, and we shrink from it almost as though it contained some blasphemous suggestion. Is it ever right to think of God as the enemy of any man? It would not be fair to pass judgment on the author of the Lamentations on the ground of a cold consideration of this abstract question. We must remember the terrible situation in which he stood-his beloved city destroyed, the revered temple of his fathers a mass of charred ruins, his people scattered in exile and captivity, tortured, slaughtered; these were not circumstances to encourage a course of calm and measured reflection. We must not expect the sufferer to carry out an exact chemical analysis of his cup of woe before uttering an exclamation on its quality; and if it should be that the burning taste induces him to speak too strongly of its ingredients, we who only see him swallow it without being required to taste a drop ourselves should be slow to examine his language too nicely. He who has never entered Gethsemane is not in a position to understand how dark may be the views of all things seen beneath its sombre shade. If the Divine sufferer on the cross could speak as though His God had actually deserted Him, are we to condemn an Old Testament saint when he ascribes unspeakably great troubles to the enmity of God?
17. Is this, then, but the rhetoric of misery? If it be no more, while we seek to sympathise with the feelings of a very dramatic situation, we shall not be called upon to go further and discover in the language of the poet any positive teaching about God and His ways with man. But are we at liberty to stop short here? Is the elegist only expressing his own feelings? Have we a right to affirm that there can be no objective truth in the awful idea of the enmity of God. In considering this question we must be careful to dismiss from our minds the unworthy associations that only too commonly attach themselves to notions of enmity among men. Hatred cannot be ascribed to One whose deepest name is Love. o spite, malignity, or evil passion of any kind can be found in the heart of the Holy God. When due weight is given to these negations very much that we usually see in the practice of enmity disappears. But this is not to say that the idea itself is denied, or the fact shown to be impossible. In the first place, we have no warrant for asserting that God will never act in direct and intentional opposition to any of His creatures. There is one obvious occasion when He certainly does this. The man who resists the laws of nature finds those laws working against him. He is not merely running his head against a stone wall; the laws are not inert obstructions in the path of the transgressor; they represent forces in action. That is to say, they resist their opponent with vigorous antagonism. In themselves they are blind, and they bear him no ill-will. But the Being who wields the forces is not blind or indifferent. The laws of nature are, as Kingsley said, but the ways of God. If they are opposing a man God is opposing that man. But God does not confine His action to the realm of physical processes. His providence works through the whole course of events in the world’s history. What we see evidently operating in nature we may infer to be equally active in less visible regions. Then if. we believe in a God who rules and works in the world, we cannot suppose that His activity is confined to aiding what is good. It is unreasonable to imagine that He stands aside in passive negligence of evil. And if He concerns Himself to thwart evil, what is this but manifesting Himself as the enemy of the evildoer? It may be contended, on the other side, that there is a world of difference between antagonistic actions and unfriendly feelings, and that the former by no means imply the latter. May not God oppose a man who is doing wrong, not at all because He is his Enemy, but just because He is his truest Friend? Is it not an act of real kindness to save a man from himself when his own will is leading him astray? This of course must be granted, and being granted, it will certainly affect our views of the ultimate issues of what we may be compelled to regard in its present operation as nothing short of Divine antagonism. It may remind us that the motives lying behind the most inimical action on God’s part may be merciful and kind in their aims. Still, for the time being, the opposition is a reality, and a reality which to all intents and purposes is one of enmity, since it resists, frustrates, hurts. or is this all. We have no reason to deny that God can have real anger. Is it not right and just that He should be "angry with the wicked every day"? [Psalms 7:11] Would He not be imperfect in holiness, would He not be less than God, if He could
18. behold vile deeds springing from vile hearts with placid indifference? We must believe that Jesus Christ was as truly revealing the Father when He was moved with indignation as when He was moved with compassion. His life shows quite clearly that He was the enemy of oppressors and hypocrites, and He plainly declared that He came to bring a sword. [Matthew 10:34] His mission was a war against all evil, and therefore, though not waged with carnal weapons, a war against evil men. The Jewish authorities were perfectly right in perceiving this fact. They persecuted Him as their enemy; and He was their enemy. This statement is no contradiction to the gracious truth that He desired to save all men, and therefore even these men. If God’s enmity to any soul were eternal it would conflict with His love. It cannot be that He wishes the ultimate ruin of one of His own children. But if He is at the present time actively opposing a man, and if He is doing this in anger, in the wrath of righteousness against sin, it is only quibbling with words to deny that for the time being He is a very real enemy to that man. The current of thought in the present day is not in any sympathy with this idea of God as an Enemy, partly in its revulsion from harsh and un-Christlike conceptions of God, partly also on account of the modern humanitarianism which almost loses sight of sin in its absorbing love of mercy. But the tremendous fact of the Divine enmity towards the sinful man so long as he persists in his sin is not to be lightly brushed aside. It is not wise wholly to forget that "our God is a consuming fire." [Hebrews 12:29] It is in consideration of this dread truth that the atonement wrought by His Son according to His own will of love.is discovered to be an action of vital efficacy, and not a mere scenic display. PETT, "Introduction Chapter 2. A Lament Over What Has Happened To Jerusalem Due To The Lord’s Anger. This chapter also divides up into sections. In the first 9 verses the prophet describes in forceful detail what ‘the Sovereign Lord’ (adonai) has done against Jerusalem and Judah, and he follows this up in Lamentations 2:10-12 with a picture of Jerusalem’s inhabitants (elders, virgins, young children) revealing how all this has affected them (they keep silence and mourn, they hang their heads, the children complain of hunger). Then in Lamentations 2:13-19 he addresses the inhabitants of Jerusalem directly, outlining what has come upon them and calling on them to seek to YHWH for help, finishing it all off in Lamentations 2:20-22 with a direct appeal to YHWH to see what the situation is. ote the emphasis in the first six verses on the wrath, fury and anger of the Lord/YHWH (specifically drawn attention to in Lamentations 2:1 (twice), 2, 3, 4, 6), something again emphasised in the final verse (Lamentations 2:22). His people had defied Him and disregarded His loving covenant for too long. They had rejected the pleas of His prophets. And there comes a time when even God’s patience is at an end and He becomes relentless. The results of that anger were plain to see in the ruined Temple, the destroyed city, and the relatively empty and devastated land. (It should, however, be noted from the human point of view that it was not YHWH Himself
19. Who had done this, but the Babylonian contingents. God works through history and the sinfulness of man. He had simply withdrawn His hand of protection because of His antipathy towards His people’s sin, letting men loose in their viciousness - see Lamentations 2:3). Once again we see a variation between ‘Sovereign Lord’ (adonai) and YHWH. In Lamentations 2:1-5 it is the Sovereign Lord Who has acted against Jerusalem and Judah/Israel in a variety of ways, whilst in Lamentations 2:6 it is YHWH Who has caused the solemn gathering of the people and the sabbath to be ‘forgotten’, that is, not maintained because of Judah’s condition. In Lamentations 2:7 it is the Sovereign Lord Who has cast off her altar and sanctuary, whilst in Lamentations 2:8 it is YHWH Who has purposed to destroy the walls of Zion and has given the prophets no vision. From that point there is then no mention of either until Lamentations 2:17 where it is YHWH Who has devised against Jerusalem and thrown her down, causing her enemies to rejoice and exalting them, whilst it is to the Sovereign Lord that the prayers of the women for their hungry children are addressed and are to be addressed (Lamentations 2:18-19). On the other hand the Prophet’s appeal for God to consider the situation being prayed about is addressed to YHWH (Lamentations 2:20), whilst in the same verse reference is made to ‘the sanctuary of the Lord’. It is clear that the names are being used interchangeably. The final reference is to ‘the day of YHWH’s anger’ in Lamentations 2:22. Interesting also are the names used of Judah/Jerusalem in the first few verses. It is ‘the daughter of Zion’ (Lamentations 2:1; Lamentations 2:4; Lamentations 2:8; Lamentations 2:10), ‘Israel’ (Lamentations 2:1; Lamentations 2:3; Lamentations 2:5), ‘Jacob’ (Lamentations 2:2-3), ‘the daughter of Judah’ (Lamentations 2:5), ‘Zion’ (Lamentations 2:6). Verses 1-9 The Lord’s Anger Is Revealed In The Destruction Of Jerusalem (Lamentations 2:1- 9). In these verses we have a description of how in His ‘anger’ (antipathy towards sin) the Lord has brought destruction on Judah and Jerusalem both politically and religiously. He is seen as the cause of the Babylonian activity. It is a reminder to us that behind what often seems to be the meaningless flow of history God is at work. Lamentations 2:1 (Aleph) How has the Lord covered the daughter of Zion, With a cloud in his anger! He has cast down from heaven to the earth, The beauty of Israel, And has not remembered his footstool, In the day of his anger. In the first five verses of this chapter all the activity is seen as that of ‘the Sovereign Lord’ acting against those who were once His people. In this first verse a threefold
20. activity is depicted. The Sovereign Lord has: · Covered the Daughter of Zion with a cloud in His anger. · Cast down from Heaven to earth the Beauty of Israel. · ot remembered His Footstool in the day of His anger. Many commentators have seen all three of these activities as referring to Jerusalem or Israel; the daughter of Zion covered with a storm-cloud, the beauty of Israel cast down from Heaven to earth, His footstool not remembered by the Lord. But a glance at the following verses throws this interpretation into doubt, for they demonstrate that it is the prophet’s usual practise in this lament to speak of three different, if parallel things, not the same thing three times. Thus we must view this interpretation with suspicion. The first statement is clear. The Sovereign Lord has, in His anger, covered the daughter of Zion (Jerusalem) with a storm-cloud. This is the very opposite to the way in which, in earlier days, YHWH had manifested Himself in a cloud. That had been protective, indicating His presence with them. ow the swirling storm-cloud is seen to be one of judgment and fierce anger. He has ‘cast down the Beauty of Israel from Heaven to earth’. This phrase is descriptive of a fall from high honour, even from god-likeness, as we see by its use of the King of Babylon in Isaiah 14:1, and of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:14; Ezekiel 28:17. But to what does ‘the Beauty of Israel refer? The concept of beauty is elsewhere: · 1). Referred to the Temple (Psalms 96:6; Isaiah 60:7; Isaiah 64:11). · 2). Referred to Israel/Judah’s royal house (compare 2 Samuel 1:19; Zechariah 12:7). · 3). Referred to Jerusalem itself (Isaiah 52:1). See Lamentations 2:15. Compare in this regard how Babylon is called "the beauty of the splendour of the Chaldeans" in Isaiah 13:19. If we take it as 3) it would certainly fit in as a parallel to ‘the daughter of Zion’, but, as we have already suggested, in this lament the prophet does not tend to use such exact parallels. Thus we would rather expect the daughter of Zion, the beauty of Israel, and the Footstool to refer to three different things. Considering 2). reference to Judah’s king as ‘the Beauty of Israel’ (as in 2 Samuel 1:19; Zechariah 12:7) and being cast down from Heaven to earth would certainly tie in with the parallel of the King of Babylon who made exalted claims about his status and was also to be cast from Heaven to earth (Isaiah 14:12-15), and it is quite possible that Zedekiah may have been aping the Babylonian ew Year ritual in which this was enacted. Reference to the king may also be seen as a good parallel to the Ark, if we take the Ark as His footstool, something specifically stated in 1 Chronicles 28:2, for both the King and the Ark represented YHWH’s kingship. Furthermore a star falling from Heaven could certainly be seen as signifying a bad end for a ruler (for star = ruler compare umbers 24:17; Daniel 8:10). And certainly the king was seen by Jerusalem and the prophet in an exalted sense, being described in terms of ‘YHWH’s Anointed’, the very breath of their nostrils
21. (Lamentations 4:20), making clear his importance in their eyes. As the Davidic king and the Anointed of YHWH, the one on whom Israel’s hopes rested, he could well be described as the beauty of Israel. In contrast it is difficult to see either the Temple or Jerusalem as being cast down from Heaven to earth (unless we see the idea as metaphorical of their splendour being cast down from Heaven, but there is no example of this elsewhere). What is also significant is that the king and his princes, and their fate, are stressed in the immediately following verses (see Lamentations 2:2; Lamentations 2:6) demonstrating that they were in the prophet’s mind as he wrote. It would appear to us therefore that the Beauty of Israel was the Davidic king, whose status was beautiful, but who was brought low by the Lord. It was the Ark of the Covenant of YHWH that was mainly seen as YHWH’s footstool (1 Chronicles 28:2; compare Psalms 99:5). This was presumably because it was seen as the place where YHWH manifested Himself on earth, as He sat on His throne in Heaven whilst His feet rested on the ark. Though hidden behind the curtain in the tabernacle/temple the Ark was the means by which, through their high priest, Israel felt that they could directly meet with God. And that ark was now to be ‘not remembered’ by Him, something apparent when it was either destroyed or carried off to Babylon. It had become simply a treasure and would no longer be able to fulfil its function. What had been sacred for so long was now to be seen as irrelevant. If we accept these suggestions we see the verse as indicating that Jerusalem had been covered by His storm-cloud, as His anger rested on it; the membership of the Davidic royal house had been cast from Heaven to earth (removed from its high status and profaned - Lamentations 2:2), because it had been disobedient to YHWH and could therefore no longer represent Him; and the Ark had become ‘not remembered’ because it had been carried off (or destroyed) and could no longer function. It is, of course, possible, to see all three ideas as referring to the same thing, either Jerusalem itself (Isaiah 52:1), or the Temple, seen equally as ‘the daughter of Zion’, ‘the Beauty of Israel’ (see Isaiah 64:11) and ‘His Footstool’ (Psalms 132:7; Isaiah 60:13), but the references are not specific and Psalms 132:7 could equally apply to the ark, whilst the ‘casting down to earth’ makes this interpretation questionable. Given the prophet’s usual practise of speaking of three different but similar things, as explained above, this interpretation would seem to be very unlikely. BI 1-9, "How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in ms anger. Chastisements 1. It is our duty to strive with ourselves to be affected with the miseries of God’s people. 2. The chastisements and corrections that God layeth upon His Church are most wonderful. (1) The Lord will in His own servants declare His anger against sin.
22. (2) He seeth afflictions the best means to frame them to His obedience. (3) His ways are beyond the reach of flesh and blood. 3. God spareth not to smite His dearest children when they sin against Him. (1) That He may declare Himself an adversary to sin in all men without partiality. (2) That He may reduce His servants from running on headlong to hell with the wicked. 4. The higher God advanceth any, the greater is their punishment in the day of their visitation for their sins. (1) To whom much is given, of them must much be required. (2) According to the privileges abused, so is the sin of those that have them greater and more in number. 5. The most beautiful thing in this world is base in respect of the majesty and glory of the Lord. 6. God’s anger against sin moveth Him to destroy the things that He commanded for His own service, when they are abused by men. (J. Udall.) The Lord hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob. Spoiled habitations 1. It is the hand of God that taketh away the flourishing estate of a kingdom (Dan_ 4:29). 2. As God is full of mercy in His long-suffering, so is His anger unappeasable when it breaketh out against the sons of men for their sins (Jer_4:4). 3. God depriveth us of a great blessing when He taketh from us our dwelling places. 4. There is no assurance of worldly possessions and peace, but in the favour of God. 5. God overthroweth the greatest strength that man can erect, even at His pleasure. 6. It is a mark of God’s wrath, to be deprived of strength, courage, or any other necessary gift, when we stand in need of them. 7. It is the sin of the Church that causeth the Lord to spoil the same of any blessing that she hath heretofore enjoyed. 8. These being taken away in God’s anger, teacheth us that it is the good blessing of God to have a kingdom, to have strongholds, munitions, etc., for a defence against their enemies. 9. The more God honoureth us with His blessings, the greater shall be our dishonour if we abuse them, when He entereth “into judgment” with us for the same. (J. Udall.) He hath cut off in His fierce anger all the horn of Israel.— Strength despoiled
23. 1. Strength and honour are in the Lord’s disposition, to be given, continued, or taken away at His pleasure. 2. When God’s favour is towards us, it is our shield against our enemies; but when He meaneth to punish us, He leaveth us unto ourselves. 3. Though God’s justice be severe against sin in all men, yet is it most manifest in His Church, having sinned against Him. (1) All men’s eyes are most upon God’s Church. (2) God doth declare Himself more in and for His Church than the world besides. (J. Udall.) 2 Without pity the Lord has swallowed up all the dwellings of Jacob; in his wrath he has torn down the strongholds of Daughter Judah. He has brought her kingdom and its princes down to the ground in dishonor. BAR ES, "Habitations - The dwellings of the shepherds in the pastures Jer_49:19. These are described as swallowed up by an earthquake, while the storm itself throws down the fortified cities of Judah. Polluted - i. e. profaned it, made common or unclean what before was holy. CLARKE, "The Lord hath swallowed up - It is a strange figure when thus applied: but Jehovah is here represented as having swallowed down Jerusalem and all the cities and fortifications in the land: that is, he has permitted them to be destroyed. See Lam_2:6. GILL, "The Lord hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob, and hath not pitied,.... As he regarded not his own habitation the temple, nor the ark his
24. footstool, it is no wonder he should be unconcerned about the habitations of others; as of the inhabitants of the land of Judea and of Jerusalem, particularly of the king, his nobles, and the great men; these the Lord swallowed up, or suffered to be swallowed up, as houses in an earthquake, and by an inundation, so as to be seen no more; and this he did without showing the least reluctance, pity, and compassion; being so highly incensed and provoked by their sins and transgressions: he hath thrown down in his wrath the strong holds of the daughter of Judah; not only the dwelling houses of the people, but the most fortified places, their castles, towers, and citadels: he hath brought them down to the ground; and not only battered and shook them, but beat them down, and laid them level with the ground; and all this done in the fury of his wrath, being irritated to it by the sins of his people; even the daughter of Judah, or the congregation thereof, as the Targum: he hath polluted the kingdom, and the princes thereof; what was reckoned sacred,