Whether it’s Hank Williams singing, “I’m Si Lonesome I Could Cry,” or the Beatles yearning for “Yesterday,” there’s something about sad songs that summarizes the emotions of millions of people.
Well, the saddest songs ever written are in the book of Lamentations.
After the Babylonian invasion in 586 B.C., the land of Egypt was reduced to rubble. Jerusalem was in ruins, the temple obliterated, the city walls flattened, and the people massacred or deported.
The prophet Jeremiah, melancholy by nature, was broken by the devastation. He had devoted a lifetime to urging his people to repent, and his book of Lamentations is a funeral dirge for Jerusalem following the judgment that fell on them.
Like the Psalms that served as Israel’s hymn book, the five laments of Jeremiah are musical in nature, thus emotional.
They’re carefully crafted as alphabetic acrostics, meaning the verses begin with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
There are five chapters and five laments:
- Chapter 1 details Jerusalem’s desolation.
- Chapter 2 characterizes God’s anger against His people and their response.
- Chapter 3 documents Judah’s complaint against what God has done.
- Lament 4 contrasts Judah’s past and present.
- The fifth chapter stresses repentance and forgiveness.
Despite the sorrow in this book, our eyes are drawn to the hope it contains.
In Lamentations 3, these words are like shafts of sunlight breaking through the clouds: Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Sinfulness brings inevitable sorrow and judgment, but even in lamentable times God is faithful and His compassions never fail.
“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lam 3:22-23).
Just like Jeremiah in distress, we must lift our thoughts from the ashes and throw open the windows of our minds, recalling the wonders of the God in whom we hope.