Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 189

Lamentations 1–5, Psalm 50

Bible text(s)

The Sorrows of Jerusalem

1How lonely lies Jerusalem, once so full of people!

Once honoured by the world, she is now like a widow;

The noblest of cities has fallen into slavery.

2All night long she cries; tears run down her cheeks.

Of all her former friends, not one is left to comfort her.

Her allies have betrayed her and all are now against her.

3Judah's people are helpless slaves, forced away from home.

They live in other lands, with no place to call their own —

Surrounded by enemies, with no way to escape.

4No one comes to the Temple now to worship on the holy days.

The young women who sang there suffer, and the priests can only groan.

The city gates stand empty, and Zion is in agony.

5Her enemies succeeded; they hold her in their power.

The LORD has made her suffer for all her many sins;

Her children have been captured and taken away.

6The splendour of Jerusalem is a thing of the past.

Her leaders are like deer that are weak from hunger,

Whose strength is almost gone as they flee from the hunters.

7A lonely ruin now, Jerusalem recalls her ancient splendour.

When she fell to the enemy, there was no one to help her;

Her conquerors laughed at her downfall.

8Her honour is gone; she is naked and held in contempt.

She groans and hides her face in shame.

Jerusalem made herself filthy with terrible sin.

9Her uncleanness was easily seen, but she showed no concern for her fate.

Her downfall was terrible; no one can comfort her.

Her enemies have won, and she cries to the LORD for mercy.

10Her enemies robbed her of all her treasures.

She saw them enter the Temple itself,

Where the LORD had forbidden Gentiles to go.

11Her people groan as they look for something to eat;

They exchange their treasures for food to keep themselves alive.

“Look at me, LORD,” the city cries; “see me in my misery.”

12“Look at me!” she cries to everyone who passes by.

“No one has ever had pain like mine,

Pain that the LORD brought on me in the time of his anger.

13“He sent fire from above, a fire that burnt inside me.

He set a trap for me and brought me to the ground.

Then he abandoned me and left me in constant pain.

14“He took note of all my sins and tied them all together;

He hung them round my neck, and I grew weak beneath the weight.

The Lord gave me to my foes, and I was helpless against them.

15“The Lord jeered at all my strongest soldiers;

He sent an army to destroy my young men.

He crushed my people like grapes in a winepress.

16“That is why my eyes are overflowing with tears.

No one can comfort me; no one can give me courage.

The enemy has conquered me; my people have nothing left.

17“I stretch out my hands, but no one will help me.

The LORD has called enemies against me from every side;

They treat me like some filthy thing.

18“But the LORD is just, for I have disobeyed him.

Listen to me, people everywhere; look at me in my pain.

My young men and women have been taken away captive.

19“I called to my allies, but they refused to help me.

The priests and the leaders died in the city streets,

Looking for food to keep themselves alive.

20“Look, O LORD, at my agony, at the anguish of my soul!

My heart is broken in sorrow for my sins.

There is murder in the streets; even indoors there is death.

21“Listen to my groans; there is no one to comfort me.

My enemies are glad that you brought disaster on me.

Bring the day you promised; make my enemies suffer as I do.

22“Condemn them for all their wickedness;

Punish them as you punished me for my sins.

I groan in misery, and I am sick at heart.”

Lamentations 1GNBOpen in Bible reader

The LORD's Punishment of Jerusalem

1The Lord in his anger has covered Zion with darkness.

Its heavenly splendour he has turned into ruins.

On the day of his anger he abandoned even his Temple.

2The Lord destroyed without mercy every village in Judah

And tore down the forts that defended the land.

He brought disgrace on the kingdom and its rulers.

3In his fury he shattered the strength of Israel;

He refused to help us when the enemy came.

He raged against us like fire, destroying everything.

4He aimed his arrows at us like an enemy;

He killed all those who were our joy and delight.

Here in Jerusalem we felt his burning anger.

5Like an enemy, the Lord has destroyed Israel;

He has left her forts and palaces in ruins.

He has brought on the people of Judah unending sorrow.

6He smashed to pieces the Temple where we worshipped him;

He has put an end to holy days and Sabbaths.

King and priest alike have felt the force of his anger.

7The Lord rejected his altar and deserted his holy Temple;

He allowed the enemy to tear down its walls.

They shouted in victory where once we had worshipped in joy.

8The LORD was determined that the walls of Zion should fall;

He measured them off to make sure of total destruction.

The towers and walls now lie in ruins together.

9The gates lie buried in rubble, their bars smashed to pieces.

The king and the noblemen now are in exile.

The Law is no longer taught, and the prophets have no visions from the LORD.

10Jerusalem's old men sit on the ground in silence,

With dust on their heads and sackcloth on their bodies.

Young women bow their heads to the ground.

11My eyes are worn out with weeping; my soul is in anguish.

I am exhausted with grief at the destruction of my people.

Children and babies are fainting in the streets of the city.

12Hungry and thirsty, they cry to their mothers;

They fall in the streets as though they were wounded,

And slowly die in their mothers' arms.

13O Jerusalem, beloved Jerusalem, what can I say?

How can I comfort you? No one has ever suffered like this.

Your disaster is boundless as the ocean; there is no possible hope.

14Your prophets had nothing to tell you but lies;

Their preaching deceived you by never exposing your sin.

They made you think you did not need to repent.

15People passing by the city look at you in scorn.

They shake their heads and laugh at the ruins of Jerusalem.

“Is this that lovely city? Is this the pride of the world?”

16All your enemies mock you and glare at you with hate.

They curl their lips and sneer, “We have destroyed it!

This is the day we have waited for!”

17The LORD has finally done what he threatened to do:

He has destroyed us without mercy, as he warned us long ago.

He gave our enemies victory, gave them joy at our downfall.

18O Jerusalem, let your very walls cry out to the Lord!

Let your tears flow like rivers night and day;

Wear yourself out with weeping and grief!

19All through the night get up again and again to cry out to the Lord;

Pour out your heart and beg him for mercy on your children —

Children starving to death on every street corner!

20Look, O LORD! Why are you punishing us like this?

Women are eating the bodies of the children they loved!

Priests and prophets are being killed in the Temple itself!

21Young and old alike lie dead in the streets,

Young men and women, killed by enemy swords.

You slaughtered them without mercy on the day of your anger.

22You invited my enemies to hold a carnival of terror all round me,

And no one could escape on that day of your anger.

They murdered my children, whom I had reared and loved.

Lamentations 2GNBOpen in Bible reader

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!”

Lamentations 3GNBOpen in Bible reader

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.

Lamentations 4GNBOpen in Bible reader

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 5GNBOpen in Bible reader

True Worship

1The Almighty God, the LORD, speaks;

he calls to the whole earth from east to west.

2God shines from Zion,

the city perfect in its beauty.

3Our God is coming, but not in silence;

a raging fire is in front of him,

a furious storm is round him.

4He calls heaven and earth as witnesses

to see him judge his people.

5He says, “Gather my faithful people to me,

those who made a covenant with me by offering a sacrifice.”

6The heavens proclaim that God is righteous,

that he himself is judge.

7“Listen, my people, and I will speak;

I will testify against you, Israel.

I am God, your God.

8I do not reprimand you because of your sacrifices

and the burnt offerings you always bring me.

9And yet I do not need bulls from your farms

or goats from your flocks;

10all the animals in the forest are mine

and the cattle on thousands of hills.

11All the wild birds are mine

and all living things in the fields.

12“If I were hungry, I would not ask you for food,

for the world and everything in it is mine.

13Do I eat the flesh of bulls

or drink the blood of goats?

14Let the giving of thanks be your sacrifice to God,

and give the Almighty all that you promised.

15Call to me when trouble comes;

I will save you,

and you will praise me.”

16But God says to the wicked,

“Why should you recite my commandments?

Why should you talk about my covenant?

17You refuse to let me correct you;

you reject my commands.

18You become the friend of every thief you see

and you associate with adulterers.

19“You are always ready to speak evil;

you never hesitate to tell lies.

20You are ready to accuse your own relatives

and to find fault with them.

21You have done all this, and I have said nothing,

so you thought that I was like you.

But now I reprimand you

and make the matter plain to you.

22“Listen to this, you that ignore me,

or I will destroy you,

and there will be no one to save you.

23Giving thanks is the sacrifice that honours me,

and I will surely save all who obey me.”

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