Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Lamentations 4:12 - 4:22

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Lamentations 4:12 - 4:22

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God's Judgment a Consequence of the Sins of the Prophets and Priests

v. 12. The kings of the earth and all the inhabitants of the world would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem.
It had indeed been taken in the earlier years, by Shishak of Egypt and by Joash of Israel, 1 Kings 14; 2 Kings 14, but it had since been fortified to such an extent that it was regarded as impregnable; moreover, there was an idea prevailing among the surrounding nations that it was under the special protection of Jehovah. But the unheard-of had come to pass.

v. 13. For the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests,
Cf Jer_23:11-21; Jer_26:7-16, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her, practicing even in those days what the Lord accused them of six centuries later. Mat_23:31-37. Because the leaders and spiritual rulers of the people had been guilty of such sins, therefore the punishment of the Lord had come upon the city.

v. 14. They have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood,
or, "they," the priests and prophets, "reeled through the streets, defiled with the blood which they had shed," so that men could not touch their garments, for fear of contamination, of Levitical uncleanness.

v. 15. They,
namely, the people of the city meeting them, cried unto them, Depart ye! It is unclean; depart, depart, touch not! thereby applying to them the call of warning used in the case of lepers, Lev_13:45, lest their blood-stained garments bring defilement. When they fled away and wandered, or when they had fled away and continued as fugitives in strange lands, they said among the heathen, They shall no more sojourn there, the heathen themselves being afraid of pollution and denying the exiled and fugitive priests a retreat in their midst.

v. 16. The anger of the Lord hath divided them,
literally, "the countenance of Jehovah has scattered them"; He will no more regard them, no longer look upon them in mercy; they, the enemies, respected not the persons of the priests, they favored not the elders, had no compassion on them. The rank, station, and age of the priests no longer shielded them from humiliation and degradation.

v. 17. As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help,
that is, the Jews, still hoping for the assistance of Egypt and other allied nations, were deeply disappointed; in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save us, as was shown also by the fact that the small band of people remaining after the murder of Gedaliah fled to Egypt. But all their hopes were in vain; they found that their trust had been misplaced.

v. 18. They hunt our steps that we cannot go in our streets,
that is, the Chaldeans were so vigilant in their siege that there was no chance to escape. Our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come, it seemed that their very existence as a nation was at an end. The city was taken, the bulk of its population transported to Babylon or put to the sword, and the remaining fugitives scattered among the nations.

v. 19. Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven,
their pursuit having begun instantly and having been carried forward with the greatest energy; they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness, everywhere, even in the moat inaccessible places.

v. 20. The breath of our nostrils,
namely, the king, who was needed for the life of the nation, the anointed of the Lord, was taken in their pits, caught by the enemies, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen; they had hoped to live safe under his protection. But in spite of the gloomy picture there is still some hope for the future.

v. 21. Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz,
on the border of the great Arabian Plain; that is, no matter if the Edomites were now exulting, the cup, namely, that of God's punishment, also shall pass through unto thee; thou shalt be drunken, with the contents of this cup, and shalt make thyself naked, be heaped with shame as a result of the Chaldean conquest. On the other hand, there is comfort for the children of the Lord.

v. 22. The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion,
her guilt being removed by the mercy of Jehovah; He will no more carry thee away into captivity, not cause another sentence of banishment to be executed; He will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; He will discover thy sins, that is, uncover them for the purpose of meting out His punishment. Thus the Messianic idea is brought out, even in the midst of misery and affliction, with the same comfort of the Gospel which is ours today.