lament, 5 ‘how’ on chapter 2, Lamentations

17 Oct

My fifth reflection on the nature of laments focuses on the second chapter of the Book of Lamentations and the history of this book. The five chapters are five hymns.

These 5 hymns all refer to the great national catastrophe that overtook the Jews and – in particular the capital city, Jerusalem, – through the Chaldeans, 587-586 B.C. The sufferings and the anxieties of the city, the destruction of the sanctuary, the cruelty of the enemies of Israel,the disgraces that befell the king and the devastation and ruin of the country-all this is described. Appeals for the Lord’s mercy are made, but not granted. Each one of these hymns emphasizes some special feature of the calamity. Yet, as poems, they tell the stories of the people’s feelings, not the narrative of events. They overflow with emotion, feeling. The second chapter’s poetic subject ,though, describe the Lord and his feelings. They overflow,

4 “Like an enemy he has strung his bow; his right hand is ready. Like a foe he has slain all who were pleasing to the eye; he has poured out his wrath like fire on the tent of Daughter Zion. 5 The Lord is like an enemy; he has swallowed up Israel. He has swallowed up all her palaces and destroyed her strongholds. He has multiplied mourning and lamentation for Daughter Judah.

6 He has laid waste his dwelling like a garden; he has destroyed his place of meeting. The Lord has made Zion forget her appointed festivals and her Sabbaths;in his fierce anger he has spurned both king and priest.”

Jerusalem is as, like, a wasted garden; he is like an enemy, a foe with a bow in hand, strung and ready to piece hearts, as his people has torn his heart. The prophet moves poetically from describing the Lord to speaking with, as, the Lord, and with his words,

13 What can I say for you? With what can I compare you, Daughter Jerusalem? To what can I liken you, that I may comfort you, Virgin Daughter Zion? Your wound is as deep as the sea. Who can heal you?

Multiple hurts birth multiple cries, multiple laments. The lord’s laments here are questions, questions without answers. They are ‘how’ queries: how can I heal?; what can I liken you, how comfort you?; how can I compare you to any, my Jerusalem?

God’s lament is a how to which silence overflows.

In the Hebrew the word for lamentations begins with this word, how. “How’s” are complex questions, with even deeper responses. They will eventually lead to ‘why’s.’ But in this chapter we sit in overflowing hows: how can I alone you, describe you, your cries and hurts? Mine?

Laments here are indescribable and sadly unforgettable. As a deep as the sea, their healing is perhaps found in their poetic utterance. In poetry, perhaps, healing comes.

Perhaps through The Word. Through the cleansing of the word, as for cleansing and healing. ( Ephesians 5: 25 -26 ) yes, his


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