1 Remember, O LORD, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach.
2 Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens.
3 We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows.
4 We have drunken our water for money; our wood is sold unto us.
5 Our necks are under persecution: we labour, and have no rest.
6 We have given the hand to the Egyptians, and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.
7 Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities.
8 Servants have ruled over us: there is none that doth deliver us out of their hand.
9 We gat our bread with the peril of our lives because of the sword of the wilderness.
10 Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.
11 They ravished the women in Zion, and the maids in the cities of Judah.
12 Princes are hanged up by their hand: the faces of elders were not honoured.
13 They took the young men to grind, and the children fell under the wood.
14 The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their musick.
15 The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning.
16 The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned!
17 For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim.
18 Because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it.
19 Thou, O LORD, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation.
20 Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time?
21 Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.
22 But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us.
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The book of Lamentations in the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible is a collection of five poems that express deep sorrow and desolation. Chapter 5, the final chapter of this book, marks the culmination of these lamentations. The chapter is a poignant and heart-wrenching prayer to God, painting a vivid picture of the suffering and humiliation that the people of Judah experienced during and after the fall of Jerusalem. This essay aims to elaborate on the themes and meanings embedded within this chapter.
Chapter 5 begins with a desperate plea to God to remember the plight of the people. The speaker implores, "Remember, O LORD, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach" (Lamentations 5:1 KJV). This verse sets the tone for the entire chapter, highlighting the themes of suffering, desolation, and a yearning for divine intervention. The use of the word remember is significant, as it implies that the speaker feels forgotten or abandoned by God. The plea is not just for God to take note of their suffering, but to empathize with their disgrace and humiliation.
The verses that follow provide a stark description of the desolation that has befallen Judah. The speaker laments, "Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens" (Lamentations 5:2 KJV). The people's land, their homes, and their heritage have been taken from them, and they have been made strangers in their own land. The speaker further laments the loss of basic necessities such as food and water, which they now have to buy (Lamentations 5:4 KJV). This vivid portrayal of Judah's desolation underscores the themes of loss, deprivation, and alienation.
The speaker also gives voice to the suffering and humiliation of the people. They bear the yoke of hard labor, are pursued and unable to rest (Lamentations 5:5 KJV), and are subjected to physical and sexual abuse (Lamentations 5:11 KJV). The speaker mourns, "We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows" (Lamentations 5:3 KJV). These verses underscore the themes of suffering, humiliation, and loss of dignity. They also highlight the complete breakdown of societal and familial structures, leading to a sense of hopelessness and despair.
Amidst the laments, the speaker acknowledges the role of sin in their predicament. The speaker confesses, "Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities" (Lamentations 5:7 KJV). This verse suggests that the people are enduring divine punishment for the sins of their ancestors. The speaker further acknowledges that God has rejected them and is exceedingly wrathful against them (Lamentations 5:22 KJV). These verses underscore the themes of sin and divine punishment, suggesting that the people's suffering is not arbitrary, but a consequence of their disobedience to God.
Despite the overwhelming sense of despair, the chapter ends with a plea for restoration. The speaker implores, "Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old" (Lamentations 5:21 KJV). This verse suggests a glimmer of hope amidst the desolation. It reflects a longing for a return to the former days of prosperity and peace, and a belief in God's power to restore. The plea for restoration is a significant theme in this chapter, as it symbolizes the people's resilience and their faith in God's mercy and redemption.
In conclusion, Lamentations Chapter 5 is a powerful prayer that gives voice to the suffering and humiliation of the people of Judah following the fall of Jerusalem. The chapter explores themes such as suffering, desolation, loss, humiliation, sin, divine punishment, and restoration. It paints a vivid picture of the people's predicament, while also acknowledging their sin and expressing a hope for divine mercy and restoration. Despite the despair and desolation, the chapter ends on a hopeful note, underscoring the enduring faith of the people in God's power to restore. This chapter serves as a poignant reminder of the consequences of turning away from God, while also affirming the power of repentance and God's mercy.