Congregation at Duke Chapel

Lamentations 3 - God's Steadfast Love Endures

A presentation by The Rev. Dr. Stephen Chapman, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Duke Divinity School on March 6, 2016.

For the ears, you can listen to an audio recording of this presentation and conversation.
[high fidelity audio playable under all personal computer operating systems via VLC media player, Microsoft Windows Media Player with the codecs for FLAC et al, OS X QuickTime with the XiphQT plugin, etc., on many Android-based mobile devices, and on iOS-based mobile devices via apps such as FLAC Player or Golden Ear]

Introduction to Lamentations
Lamentations 1
Lamentations 2

Lamentations 4
Lamentations 5

1 I am the man that hath seen affliction
by the rod of His wrath.
2 He hath led me and caused me to walk
in darkness and not in light.
3 Surely against me He turneth His hand again and again
all the day.
4 My flesh and my skin hath He worn out;
He hath broken my bones.
5 He hath builded against me, and compassed me
with gall and travail.
6 He hath made me to dwell in dark places,
as those that have been long dead.
7 He hath hedged me about, that I cannot go forth;
He hath made my chain heavy.
8 Yea, when I cry and call for help,
He shutteth out my prayer.
9 He hath enclosed my ways with hewn stone,
He hath made my paths crooked.
10 He is unto me as a bear lying in wait,
as a lion in secret places.
11 He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces;
He hath made me desolate.
12 He hath bent His bow,
and set me as a mark for the arrow.
13 He hath caused the arrows of His quiver
to enter into my reins.
14 I am become a derision to all my people,
and their song all the day.
15 He hath filled me with bitterness,
He hath sated me with wormwood.
16 He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones,
He hath made me to wallow in ashes.
17 And my soul is removed far off from peace,
I forgot prosperity.
18 And I said: 'My strength is perished,
and mine expectation from the LORD.'
19 Remember mine affliction and mine anguish,
the wormwood and the gall.
20 My soul hath them still in remembrance,
and is bowed down within me.
21 This I recall to my mind,
therefore have I hope.
22 Surely the LORD'S mercies are not consumed,
surely His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
great is Thy faithfulness.
24 'The LORD is my portion', saith my soul;
'Therefore will I hope in Him.'
25 The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him,
to the soul that seeketh Him.
26 It is good that a man should quietly wait
for the salvation of the LORD.
27 It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
28 Let him sit alone and keep silence,
because He hath laid it upon him.
29 Let him put his mouth in the dust,
if so be there may be hope.
30 Let him give his cheek to him that smiteth him,
let him be filled full with reproach.
31 For the Lord will not
cast off for ever.
32 For though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion
according to the multitude of His mercies.
33 For He doth not afflict willingly,
nor grieve the children of men.
34 To crush under foot
all the prisoners of the earth,
35 To turn aside the right of a man
before the face of the Most High,
36 To subvert a man in his cause,
the Lord approveth not.
37 Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass,
when the Lord commandeth it not?
38 Out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth
not evil and good?
39 Wherefore doth a living man complain,
a strong man because of his sins?
40 Let us search and try our ways,
and return to the LORD.
41 Let us lift up our heart with our hands
unto God in the heavens.
42 We have transgressed and have rebelled;
Thou hast not pardoned.
43 Thou hast covered with anger and pursued us;
Thou hast slain unsparingly.
44 Thou hast covered Thyself with a cloud,
so that no prayer can pass through.
45 Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse
in the midst of the peoples.
46 All our enemies have opened their mouth wide against us.
47 Terror and the pit are come upon us,
desolation and destruction.
48 Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water,
for the breach of the daughter of my people.
49 Mine eye is poured out, and ceaseth not,
without any intermission,
50 Till the LORD look forth,
and behold from heaven.
51 Mine eye affected my soul,
because of all the daughters of my city.
52 They have chased me sore like a bird,
that are mine enemies without cause.
53 They have cut off my life in the dungeon,
and have cast stones upon me.
54 Waters flowed over my head;
I said: 'I am cut off.'
55 I called upon Thy name, O LORD,
Out of the lowest dungeon.
56 Thou heardest my voice;
hide not Thine ear at my sighing, at my cry.
57 Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon Thee;
Thou saidst: 'Fear not.'
58 O Lord, Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul;
Thou hast redeemed my life.
59 O LORD, Thou hast seen my wrong;
judge Thou my cause.
60 Thou hast seen all their vengeance
and all their devices against me.
61 Thou hast heard their taunt, O LORD,
and all their devices against me;
62 The lips of those that rose up against me,
and their muttering against me all the day.
63 Behold Thou their sitting down, and their rising up;
I am their song.
64 Thou wilt render unto them a recompense, O LORD,
according to the work of their hands.
65 Thou wilt give them hardness of heart,
Thy curse unto them.
66 Thou wilt pursue them in anger,
and destroy them from under the heavens of the LORD.

from The Jewish Publication Society (1917 edition) of The Holy Scriptures (Old Testament)

E.g. BibleGateway is a source of newer translations.

Lamentations 3:1-10 (translation by David Slavitt)
Afflicted am I and beset, a man whom God in his wrath has abased.
Abused by his rod and broken, I am driven into the darkness.
Against me, he turned his hand, and again and again.

Bones broken, wasted, I am besieged and battered.
Bitterness is my portion and tribulation.
Banished, I dwell in the darkest darkness like those long dead.

Chained so I cannot escape and walled in, I am a captive.
Crying for help, I call out, but he will not hear my prayer.
Crooked are all my paths, which he has blocked with boulders.

Desolate am I and desperate ...

The theology of Lamentations is summarized in this chapter, in verses 31 through 33.

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