Searchlights from the Word by G. Campbell Morgan: Lamentations

Helpful outline sermon suggestion from every chapter from the Book of Lamentations

Gene Exod Levi Numb Deut Josh Judg Ruth 1Sam 2Sam 1Kin 2Kin 1Chr 2Chr Ezra Nehe Esth Job_ Psal Prov Eccl Song Isai Jere Lame Ezek Dani Hose Joel Amos Obad Jona Mica Nahu Haba Zeph Hagg Zech Mala Matt Mark Luke John Acts Roma 1Cor 2Cor Gala Ephe Phil Colo 1The 2The 1Tim 2Tim Titu Phle Hebr Jame 1Pet 2Pet 1Joh 2Joh 3Joh Jude Reve

The Book of Lamentations - "Searchlights from the Word" by G. Campbell Morgan.

Chapter 1

How doth the city sit solitary.
Lamentations 1:1

In this book there are five songs of sorrow. They were doubtless composed by Jeremiah after the fall of Jerusalem. In them the man is wonderfully revealed. That which he had foretold had come to pass. The city of the great King lay in hopeless ruins. The people of God were scattered far and wide. The outlook on circumstances was one of complete desolation. The prophet indulged in no exultation. He was consumed with sorrow for the condition of the city and the sorrows of the people. These five songs constitute the outpouring of his soul. In the first two, he contemplated the situation. In the third, the central one of the collection, he identified himself completely with the people. The last two are concerned with the desolation, and the consequent appeal to Jehovah. Three of these, the first, the second, and the fourth, that is those of contemplation, begin with the word "How." The word (in the Hebrew, Aichah) gives the title to the book in the Hebrew Bible. This is significant. "How" expresses the whole fact of which the song so begun, attempts a description. It is exclamatory, and suggests the impossibility of description. In this first song there are two movements: The first is the language of an onlooker (verses 1-11); in the second the city personified, speaks herself of her desolation (verses 12-22).In each, the cause of her sorrow is confessed (compare verses 8 and 18). When the prophet personified the city he began with an appeal: "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?" He saw that the sorrows of the people of God had their message to all other peoples. This is the true meaning of this inquiry. When we use it of Christ, let us not forget this. The appeal is not one for pity, but rather that men should know the issue of sin.

Chapter 2

How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in His anger.
Lamentations 2:1

Again the song opens with this word "How." The prophet was still contemplating the tragic conditions of his city and his nation; and once again was so deeply impressed with what he saw that he commenced with this exclamatory How! What, then, were the things which he saw? First, that all the desolation upon which he looked was brought about by Jehovah; and secondly that this activity of Jehovah was made inevitable by the sins of His people. The judgment of Adonai, the Sovereign Lord, Who is also named as Jehovah in the course of the description, had fallen upon all material things, and had swept out the sacramental symbols of spiritual relationship. All this because the people had been seduced from their loyalty to Jehovah by the false prophets who had "seen false and foolish visions." At last the song became an appeal to the people in their affliction to come to penitence and contrition, and out of that to make their appeal to Jehovah on behalf of the next generation, that is, "for the life of thy young children." These opening words of the song are poetically suggestive. Neither Jehovah nor the daughter of Zion is conceived of as departed, or destroyed. She is covered in a cloud, and so cut off from the vision of Jehovah, that is, she cannot see Him. Clouds hide God from men; they never hide men from God. Here, then, is the thought. The loss of the vision is the judgment upon those who ceased looking to Jehovah. That condition continues even yet. The daughter of Zion is covered in the cloud. She does not see her God. But her God, watching over her, neither slumbers nor sleeps.

Chapter 3

I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.
Lamentations 3:1

This is the central song of the five; and its dominant note is that of the prophet's complete identification with the people in the experiences of their sorrow; and his complete agreement with, and understanding of the purpose of God in all His dealings with His people. In these first words he strikes the keynote, and reveals this identification with the people in the experience of affliction. Presently he declared the goodness of God as he had seen it, and said that it was of Jehovah's lovingkindness that they had not been consumed. On the basis of this recognition he uttered his appeal to the people, including himself, as he said: 'Let us search and try our ways." Finally, he called to mind his own personal experience of how, when he had called to God out of the lowest dungeon, He had heard, responded, delivered; and upon that experience he based his certainty that God would ultimately overthrow those who were the instruments of the suffering of His people. As we have said, that which is most impressive in this song is the identification of the prophet with the people and with God. He recognized the necessity for the suffering, but he suffered with the sufferers. The real emphasis of these opening words would seem to be on the very first word, "I." This is the authentic note of the messenger of Jehovah. He it is who feels most poignantly the pain of those who through their own determined disobedience are punished. If that be so of the messenger of God, it is supremely so of God Himself. In that realm of thought we ultimately and inevitably reach the Cross.

Chapter 4

How is the gold become dim!
Lamentations 4:1

Again this fourth song commences with the exclamatory "How!" The prophet had been meditating, considering, pondering. He was about to give expression to the things which had occupied his mind, and the first word of the message of interpretation is one which means that the facts defy expression - "How!" Yet here, in a sentence, the whole result is gathered up and uttered, before the detailed explanation. That one sentence tells the whole story. "The gold is become dim!" Those which follow express the same fact in slightly varying form. "The most pure gold is changed! The stones of the sanctuary are poured out at the top of every street!" Follow the prophet, and the next statement interprets the figure. "The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold. How are they esteemed as earthen-pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!" That is the appalling spectacle, compelling the introductory "How," and inspiring all that follows. This was the vision of a man who saw the facts in true perspective and proportion. The tragedy of Israel's breakdown and desolation was created by the glory of the Divine purpose for that nation among nations of men. "Gold," "the most pure gold," "fine gold;" these were the words and phrases fittingly expressing the glory of the Divine thought and purpose for that nation among the nations of men. But the gold had become dim; the most pure gold was changed, the fine gold had become common earth. This is the deepest note of calamity whenever the people of God break down in loyalty, and so are broken down in necessary judgment. The failure to fulfil an appointed function in the Divine economy, is a more terrible thing than personal shortcoming, and personal suffering.

Chapter 5

Remember, O Lord.
Lamentations 5:1

Thus opens the last of the five songs, the final message of this great heroic messenger of Jehovah. The first movement of the song described anew the sorrows of the suffering people; the actual desolation in the midst of which Jeremiah lived; the afflictions of all classes of the community; the prevailing and abundant grief. His description prepared for, and led up to prayer. In that prayer the eternity of God, and the stability of His Throne were first confessed. Then, notice very carefully, that following what seed's to be a protest against the long forsaking of His people by Jehovah, the central concluding petition of the prophet was not that God should turn unto His people, but rather that He would turn His people unto Him. The notes of this final song are full of value for us. In days of darkness and discipline, in which many loyal souls, like Jeremiah himself, may be involved, it is ever given to them to speak of their sorrows before Jehovah; and that speaking may ever take the form of appeal to Jehovah to remember. It is not to be supposed that Jeremiah imagined that Jehovah could forget, but here was his last resort. He himself remembered all the afflictions of the people and of his own soul, in communion with God, and in this call to Jehovah to remember, he was realizing that communion, and finding reinforcement for his own soul in the process of trial. Thus, prayers which break down in intellectual logical consistency are oft-times those which in experience bring us nearest God; and thus find surest answers in that they make it possible for Him to act with us and for us in ways not possible unless and until we have such communion.