Bible Society of South Africa

Bible Reading Plan – Day 216

Bible text(s)

Punishment, Repentance, and Hope

1I am one who knows what it is to be punished by God.

2He drove me deeper and deeper into darkness

3And beat me again and again with merciless blows.

4He has left my flesh open and raw, and has broken my bones.

5He has shut me in a prison of misery and anguish.

6He has forced me to live in the stagnant darkness of death.

7He has bound me in chains; I am a prisoner with no hope of escape.

8I cry aloud for help, but God refuses to listen;

9I stagger as I walk; stone walls block me wherever I turn.

10He waited for me like a bear; he pounced on me like a lion.

11He chased me off the road, tore me to pieces, and left me.

12He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows.

13He shot his arrows deep into my body.

14People laugh at me all day long; I am a joke to them all.

15Bitter suffering is all he has given me for food and drink.

16He rubbed my face in the ground and broke my teeth on the gravel.

17I have forgotten what health and peace and happiness are.

18I have not much longer to live; my hope in the LORD is gone.

19The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison;

20I think of it constantly and my spirit is depressed.

21Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing:

22The LORD's unfailing love and mercy still continue,

23Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.

24The LORD is all I have, and so I put my hope in him.

25The LORD is good to everyone who trusts in him,

26So it is best for us to wait in patience — to wait for him to save us —

27And it is best to learn this patience in our youth.

28When we suffer, we should sit alone in silent patience;

29We should bow in submission, for there may still be hope.

30Though beaten and insulted, we should accept it all.

31The Lord is merciful and will not reject us for ever.

32He may bring us sorrow, but his love for us is sure and strong.

33He takes no pleasure in causing us grief or pain.

34The Lord knows when our spirits are crushed in prison;

35He knows when we are denied the rights he gave us;

36When justice is perverted in court, he knows.

37The will of the Lord alone is always carried out.

38Good and evil alike take place at his command.

39Why should we ever complain when we are punished for our sin?

40Let us examine our ways and turn back to the LORD.

41Let us open our hearts to God in heaven and pray,

42“We have sinned and rebelled, and you, O LORD, have not forgiven us.

43“You pursued us and killed us; your mercy was hidden by your anger,

44By a cloud of fury too thick for our prayers to get through.

45You have made us the refuse heap of the world.

46“We are insulted and mocked by all our enemies.

47We have been through disaster and ruin; we live in danger and fear.

48My eyes flow with rivers of tears at the destruction of my people.

49“My tears will pour out in a ceaseless stream

50Until the LORD looks down from heaven and sees us.

51My heart is grieved when I see what has happened to the women of the city.

52“I was trapped like a bird by enemies who had no cause to hate me.

53They threw me alive into a pit and closed the opening with a stone.

54Water began to close over me, and I thought death was near.

55“From the bottom of the pit, O LORD, I cried out to you,

56And when I begged you to listen to my cry, you heard.

57You answered me and told me not to be afraid.

58“You came to my rescue, Lord, and saved my life.

59Judge in my favour; you know the wrongs done against me.

60You know how my enemies hate me and how they plot against me.

61“You have heard them insult me, O LORD; you know all their plots.

62All day long they talk about me and make their plans.

63From morning till night they jeer at me.

64“Punish them for what they have done, O LORD;

65Curse them and fill them with despair!

66Hunt them down and wipe them off the earth!”

Jerusalem after its Fall

1Our glittering gold has grown dull;

the stones of the Temple lie scattered in the streets.

2Zion's young men were as precious to us as gold,

but now they are treated like common clay pots.

3Even a mother wolf will nurse her cubs,

but my people are like ostriches, cruel to their young.

4They let their babies die of hunger and thirst;

children are begging for food that no one will give them.

5People who once ate the finest foods die starving in the streets;

those raised in luxury are pawing through refuse for food.

6My people have been punished even more than the inhabitants of Sodom,

which met with a sudden downfall at the hands of God.

7Our princes were undefiled and pure as snow,

vigorous and strong, glowing with health.

8Now they lie unknown in the streets, their faces blackened in death;

their skin, dry as wood, has shrivelled on their bones.

9Those who died in the war were better off than those who died later,

who starved slowly to death, with no food to keep them alive.

10The disaster that came to my people brought horror;

loving mothers boiled their own children for food.

11The LORD turned loose the full force of his fury;

he lit a fire in Zion that burnt it to the ground.

12No one anywhere, not even rulers of foreign nations,

believed that any invader could enter Jerusalem's gates.

13But it happened because her prophets sinned and her priests were guilty

of causing the death of innocent people.

14Her leaders wandered through the streets like the blind,

so stained with blood that no one would touch them.

15“Go away!” people shouted. “You're defiled! Don't touch me!”

So they wandered from nation to nation, welcomed by no one.

16The LORD had no more concern for them; he scattered them himself.

He showed no regard for our priests and leaders.

17For help that never came, we looked until we could look no longer.

We kept waiting for help from a nation that had none to give.

18The enemy was watching for us; we could not even walk in the streets.

Our days were over; the end had come.

19Swifter than eagles swooping from the sky, they chased us down.

They tracked us down in the hills; they took us by surprise in the desert.

20They captured the source of our life, the king the LORD had chosen,

the one we had trusted to protect us from every invader.

21Laugh on, people of Edom and Uz; be glad while you can.

Your disaster is coming too; you too will stagger naked in shame.

22Zion has paid for her sin; the LORD will not keep us in exile any longer.

But Edom, the LORD will punish you; he will expose your guilty deeds.

A Prayer for Mercy

1Remember, O LORD, what has happened to us.

Look at us, and see our disgrace.

2Our property is in the hands of strangers;

foreigners are living in our homes.

3Our fathers have been killed by the enemy,

and now our mothers are widows.

4We must pay for the water we drink;

we must buy the wood we need for fuel.

5Driven hard like donkeys or camels,

we are tired, but are allowed no rest.

6To get food enough to stay alive,

we went begging to Egypt and Assyria.

7Our ancestors sinned, but now they are gone,

and we are suffering for their sins.

8We are ruled by those who are no better than slaves,

and no one can save us from their power.

9Murderers roam through the countryside;

we risk our lives when we look for food.

10Hunger has made us burn with fever,

until our skin is as hot as an oven.

11Our wives have been raped on Mount Zion itself;

in every Judean village our daughters have been forced to submit.

12Our leaders have been taken and hanged;

our elders are shown no respect.

13Our young men are forced to grind corn like slaves;

boys go staggering under heavy loads of wood.

14The old people no longer sit at the city gate,

and the young people no longer make music.

15Happiness has gone out of our lives;

grief has taken the place of our dances.

16Nothing is left of all we were proud of.

We sinned, and now we are doomed.

17We are sick at our very hearts

and can hardly see through our tears,

18because Mount Zion lies lonely and deserted,

and wild jackals prowl through its ruins.

19But you, O LORD, are king for ever,

and will rule to the end of time.

20Why have you abandoned us so long?

Will you ever remember us again?

21Bring us back to you, LORD! Bring us back!

Restore our ancient glory.

22Or have you rejected us for ever?

Is there no limit to your anger?

Lamentations 3:1-5:22GNBOpen in Bible reader
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