Lamentations 3-5 (Listen)
Great Is Your Faithfulness
I am the man who has seen affliction
under the rod of his wrath;
he has driven and brought me
into darkness without any light;
surely against me he turns his hand
again and again the whole day long.
He has made my flesh and my skin waste away;
he has broken my bones;
he has besieged and enveloped me
with bitterness and tribulation;
he has made me dwell in darkness
like the dead of long ago.
He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;
he has made my chains heavy;
though I call and cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer;
he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones;
he has made my paths crooked.
He is a bear lying in wait for me,
a lion in hiding;
he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces;
he has made me desolate;
he bent his bow and set me
as a target for his arrow.
He drove into my kidneys
the arrows of his quiver;
I have become the laughingstock of all peoples,
the object of their taunts all day long.
He has filled me with bitterness;
he has sated me with wormwood.
He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
and made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord.”
Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone in silence
when it is laid on him;
let him put his mouth in the dust—
there may yet be hope;
let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
and let him be filled with insults.
For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men.
To crush underfoot
all the prisoners of the earth,
to deny a man justice
in the presence of the Most High,
to subvert a man in his lawsuit,
the Lord does not approve.
Who has spoken and it came to pass,
unless the Lord has commanded it?
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come?
Why should a living man complain,
a man, about the punishment of his sins?
Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the Lord!
Let us lift up our hearts and hands
to God in heaven:
“We have transgressed and rebelled,
and you have not forgiven.
“You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us,
killing without pity;
you have wrapped yourself with a cloud
so that no prayer can pass through.
You have made us scum and garbage
among the peoples.
“All our enemies
open their mouths against us;
panic and pitfall have come upon us,
devastation and destruction;
my eyes flow with rivers of tears
because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.
“My eyes will flow without ceasing,
until the Lord from heaven
looks down and sees;
my eyes cause me grief
at the fate of all the daughters of my city.
“I have been hunted like a bird
by those who were my enemies without cause;
they flung me alive into the pit
and cast stones on me;
water closed over my head;
I said, ‘I am lost.’
“I called on your name, O Lord,
from the depths of the pit;
you heard my plea, ‘Do not close
your ear to my cry for help!’
You came near when I called on you;
you said, ‘Do not fear!’
“You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
you have redeemed my life.
You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord;
judge my cause.
You have seen all their vengeance,
all their plots against me.
“You have heard their taunts, O Lord,
all their plots against me.
The lips and thoughts of my assailants
are against me all the day long.
Behold their sitting and their rising;
I am the object of their taunts.
“You will repay them, O Lord,
according to the work of their hands.
You will give them dullness of heart;
your curse will be on them.
You will pursue them in anger and destroy them
from under your heavens, O Lord.”
The Holy Stones Lie Scattered
How the gold has grown dim,
how the pure gold is changed!
The holy stones lie scattered
at the head of every street.
The precious sons of Zion,
worth their weight in fine gold,
how they are regarded as earthen pots,
the work of a potter's hands!
Even jackals offer the breast;
they nurse their young,
but the daughter of my people has become cruel,
like the ostriches in the wilderness.
The tongue of the nursing infant sticks
to the roof of its mouth for thirst;
the children beg for food,
but no one gives to them.
Those who once feasted on delicacies
perish in the streets;
those who were brought up in purple
embrace ash heaps.
For the chastisement of the daughter of my people has been greater
than the punishment of Sodom,
which was overthrown in a moment,
and no hands were wrung for her.
Her princes were purer than snow,
whiter than milk;
their bodies were more ruddy than coral,
the beauty of their form was like sapphire.
Now their face is blacker than soot;
they are not recognized in the streets;
their skin has shriveled on their bones;
it has become as dry as wood.
Happier were the victims of the sword
than the victims of hunger,
who wasted away, pierced
by lack of the fruits of the field.
The hands of compassionate women
have boiled their own children;
they became their food
during the destruction of the daughter of my people.
The Lord gave full vent to his wrath;
he poured out his hot anger,
and he kindled a fire in Zion
that consumed its foundations.
The kings of the earth did not believe,
nor any of the inhabitants of the world,
that foe or enemy could enter
the gates of Jerusalem.
This was for the sins of her prophets
and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed in the midst of her
the blood of the righteous.
They wandered, blind, through the streets;
they were so defiled with blood
that no one was able to touch
“Away! Unclean!” people cried at them.
“Away! Away! Do not touch!”
So they became fugitives and wanderers;
people said among the nations,
“They shall stay with us no longer.”
The Lord himself has scattered them;
he will regard them no more;
no honor was shown to the priests,
no favor to the elders.
Our eyes failed, ever watching
vainly for help;
in our watching we watched
for a nation which could not save.
They dogged our steps
so that we could not walk in our streets;
our end drew near; our days were numbered,
for our end had come.
Our pursuers were swifter
than the eagles in the heavens;
they chased us on the mountains;
they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
The breath of our nostrils, the Lord's anointed,
was captured in their pits,
of whom we said, “Under his shadow
we shall live among the nations.”
Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom,
you who dwell in the land of Uz;
but to you also the cup shall pass;
you shall become drunk and strip yourself bare.
The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter of Zion, is accomplished;
he will keep you in exile no longer;
but your iniquity, O daughter of Edom, he will punish;
he will uncover your sins.
Restore Us to Yourself, O Lord
Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us;
look, and see our disgrace!
Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,
our homes to foreigners.
We have become orphans, fatherless;
our mothers are like widows.
We must pay for the water we drink;
the wood we get must be bought.
Our pursuers are at our necks;
we are weary; we are given no rest.
We have given the hand to Egypt, and to Assyria,
to get bread enough.
Our fathers sinned, and are no more;
and we bear their iniquities.
Slaves rule over us;
there is none to deliver us from their hand.
We get our bread at the peril of our lives,
because of the sword in the wilderness.
Our skin is hot as an oven
with the burning heat of famine.
Women are raped in Zion,
young women in the towns of Judah.
Princes are hung up by their hands;
no respect is shown to the elders.
Young men are compelled to grind at the mill,
and boys stagger under loads of wood.
The old men have left the city gate,
the young men their music.
The joy of our hearts has ceased;
our dancing has been turned to mourning.
The crown has fallen from our head;
woe to us, for we have sinned!
For this our heart has become sick,
for these things our eyes have grown dim,
for Mount Zion which lies desolate;
jackals prowl over it.
But you, O Lord, reign forever;
your throne endures to all generations.
Why do you forget us forever,
why do you forsake us for so many days?
Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored!
Renew our days as of old—
unless you have utterly rejected us,
and you remain exceedingly angry with us.