Lamentations 2


In Lamentations 2 we find Jeremiah developing his thoughts from Lamentations 1 which describes how the people of Judah and Jerusalem recognise how far they have moved away from God and how they now accept God’s punishment because they realise that everything has happened because of their sinful actions in leaving God.

‘How the Lord has covered Daughter Zion with the cloud of his anger! He has hurled down the splendour of Israel from heaven to earth; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger. Without pity the Lord has swallowed up all the dwellings of Jacob; in his wrath he has torn down the strongholds of Daughter Judah. He has brought her kingdom and its princes down to the ground in dishonour. In fierce anger he has cut off every horn of Israel. He has withdrawn his right hand at the approach of the enemy. He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire that consumes everything around it. 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. 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. 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. The Lord has rejected his altar and abandoned his sanctuary. He has given the walls of her palaces into the hands of the enemy; they have raised a shout in the house of the LORD as on the day of an appointed festival. The LORD determined to tear down the wall around Daughter Zion. He stretched out a measuring line and did not withhold his hand from destroying. He made ramparts and walls lament; together they wasted away. Her gates have sunk into the ground; their bars he has broken and destroyed. Her king and her princes are exiled among the nations, the law is no more, and her prophets no longer find visions from the LORD. The elders of Daughter Zion sit on the ground in silence; they have sprinkled dust on their heads and put on sackcloth. The young women of Jerusalem have bowed their heads to the ground.’ Lamentations 2:1-10

The chapter begins by identifying God as the One who has been working against Jacob, that is Israel and Judah because they left God and He was the one who poured out judgment upon the people. The word ‘anger’ occurs six times in this chapter and the word ‘wrath’ is found twice. It’s clear to understand that because they had defied God’s will, they fell into the hands of God, and so experienced His wrath. Hebrews 10:31.

The word ‘cloud’ is used to describe how they were overwhelmed with tragedy. Israel was once a beautiful place, it had the temple within it, but by the time Nebuchadnezzar was finished, the temple was destroyed and so that wonderful symbol which they loved so much and took so much pride in was literally taken away, Jeremiah 52. His footstool, the mercy seat of the temple was literally destroyed.

The word ‘horn’ in this passage represents strength but notice it was God Himself who brought Israel’s strength to an end. He brought everything which stood for strength, their buildings, their leaders, king, priests, and elders to an end. By the time God was finished, there was nothing left to identify her as a nation among the nations of the world, Isaiah 42:24ff.

The magnificent temple of stone and beauty was swept away as if it were a gardener’s stall made of branches and leaves.

‘My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within; my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers, ‘Where is bread and wine?’ as they faint like the wounded in the streets of the city, as their lives ebb away in their mothers’ arms. 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? The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading. All who pass your way clap their hands at you; they scoff and shake their heads at Daughter Jerusalem: ‘Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth?’ All your enemies open their mouths wide against you; they scoff and gnash their teeth and say, ‘We have swallowed her up. This is the day we have waited for; we have lived to see it.’ The LORD has done what he planned; he has fulfilled his word, which he decreed long ago. He has overthrown you without pity, he has let the enemy gloat over you, he has exalted the horn of your foes.’ Lamentations 2:11-17

We often read in the papers or see it in the news when a city is torn apart by war, the people are just ripped apart with grief, this is their home, where they were raised, all their friends and family live there, they work there, they had fun there, all those memories gone in a moment.

In these passages we can almost feel the pain of Jeremiah, he is overwhelmed with grief and moved to tears as he laments over the devastation of his beloved city and people, he’s moved because his people no longer dwell there, Jeremiah 9:1 / Jeremiah 14:17.

Even though his fellow Israelites didn’t understand who they were, Jeremiah knew that his people were the people of God, and we can but only imagine what’s going through his mind as he sees his country come to an end and cease to exist. There’s no hiding the pain and sorrow that Jeremiah is feeling and no doubt his fellow Israelites were feeling the same.

Imagine being in existence as a nation for a thousand years but in a matter of moments, you cease to exist, Jeremiah says, this has happened to no other nation in such a short period of time.

We can imagine them longing to return, Psalm 137, longing to be restored, and when people are desperate for good news, there’s always a false prophet around to tell you what you want to hear.

These false prophets were speaking to the Israelites and giving them false hope, 1 Kings 18:19. They were supposed to be preaching against the sin of the people but instead, they excused their sinful actions and because of this, they actually sealed the fate of the nation.

Much like many religious organisations today, the false prophets preached what the people wanted to hear, and what the people wanted to hear was confirmation of their idolatrous behaviour and so, these false prophets must take responsibility for the fall of Israel, Jeremiah 14:14-16 / Jeremiah 23:9-40.

It’s sad but true that even today many preachers won’t stand on God’s Word and as a result, they are by default, turning the people away from God, 2 Thessalonians 2:6-9.

Israel as a nation got to the stage where they became so arrogant that they were claiming to be a special nation that had been created by God, which was true, but as a nation, they proclaimed this to all the other nations around, under the presumption that God was actually rejecting all the other nations on Earth.

Because of this boasting, we can imagine the other nations making a laughing stock out of them, we can imagine them saying, ‘you’re not so special now, are you!’

As a result of this, the other nations would obviously mock God Himself, saying that He was no different from all the other ‘gods’ whom they worshipped.

Notice that Jeremiah says, ‘The LORD has done what he planned; he has fulfilled his word, which he decreed long ago.’

We can trust God at His word, when He gave Israel the law at Mount Sinai, He told Israel that if they abandoned His commandments, He would abandon them, and then bring them to destruction, Leviticus 26:16 / Deuteronomy 28.

We all know when people receive a great privilege it comes with greater responsibility, Israel had the privilege of being a chosen people, and so, protected from the hostility of the nations around them by God’s protective care and other nations were aware of this.

However, when they abandoned the One who created them as a nation, they had to be destroyed, why? Simply because the other nations had to see and understand that God wouldn’t accept His people leaving Him to worship other gods, Deuteronomy 28:52ff.

‘The hearts of the people cry out to the Lord. You walls of Daughter Zion, let your tears flow like a river day and night; give yourself no relief, your eyes no rest. Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at every street corner.’ Lamentations 2:18-19

Here we read Jeremiah expressing a prayer for the people. The walls of the cities figuratively stood for the people and so, here we see Jeremiah describing how the people in desperation, cry out to God for deliverance, Isaiah 14:31.

‘Look, LORD, and consider: Whom have you ever treated like this? Should women eat their offspring, the children they have cared for? Should priest and prophet be killed in the sanctuary of the Lord? ‘Young and old lie together in the dust of the streets; my young men and young women have fallen by the sword. You have slain them in the day of your anger; you have slaughtered them without pity. ‘As you summon to a feast day, so you summoned against me terrors on every side. In the day of the LORD’s anger no one escaped or survived; those I cared for and reared my enemy has destroyed.’ Lamentations 2:20-22

It’s not uncommon to find someone else expressing how others feel and here Jeremiah is expressing the feelings of his fellow Israelites, 2 Kings 6:28-29. Again, in their desperation, they asked for God to think again about them as a nation.

In other words, they asked God for a second chance and in doing so, Jeremiah spoke about some of the devastating things which took place during the destruction of Jerusalem. And what was their hope? Their hope lay firmly on God’s mercy.


It’s such a blessing to know that God isn’t only a merciful God but a God of second chances. Most of us lived our lives in rebellion against God without even knowing it but He was merciful enough to send His Son to die for each of us, and He is merciful enough to give everyone some time to repent before He comes back, therefore giving us a second chance, 2 Peter 3:9.

I think if we are honest enough with ourselves, we would admit that He is the God who gives us chance after chance after chance to live right for Him.

The Israelites had to learn that arrogance wasn’t the answer, yes, they were God’s chosen people, but they shouldn’t have boasted about it to the extent of condemning others around them as if they could do no wrong.

In the church today, we must be careful of having the same attitude, yes, we’re God’s chosen people, 1 Peter 2:9, but we shouldn’t arrogantly pronounce to the world that, ‘we belong to God; therefore, we can’t do any wrong, we’re going to heaven and the rest of you are doomed for hell!’

Go To Lamentations 3