Sunday School Bible Survey:      LAMENTATIONS

Theme: God's compassion


Key word: Destruction


Key verses: "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).


From the Scofield Study Bible:
The touching significance of this book lies in the fact that it is the disclosure of the love and sorrow of Jehovah for the very people who He is chastening — a sorrow wrought by the Spirit in the heart of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 13:17; Matthew 23:36, 38; Romans 9:1-5).


Introduction:

  1. The author is the prophet Jeremiah. Second Chronicles 35:25 says, "And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations."
  2. The book of Lamentations has to do with the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and the terrible sufferings connected with their overthrow (1:1).
  3. The Jews read the book of Lamentations publicly on the ninth day of the month of Ab (mid-July) in commemoration of the destruction of the temple in 586 BC by the Babylonians and again in AD 70 by the Romans.
  4. It has been pointed out that Jeremiah is a type of Christ (cf. Matthew 23:37, 38).
  5. "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger" (Lamentations 1:12).
  6. "And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets" (Matthew 16:14).
  7. From 588 to 586 BC, the Babylonian army besieged Jerusalem (II Kings 25:1-10). Jeremiah repeatedly warned the people to repent but his warnings were rejected. The religious leaders were the worst offenders (cf. 4:13).
  8. Rather than turn to God, the people continued to worship idols. Finally, the walls of Jerusalem were breached, the city plundered, the magnificent temple that had been built by King Solomon burned and destroyed, and the people taken away into captivity in Babylon.
  9. After enduring this horrible ordeal, Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations.
  10. The book of Lamentations teaches that sin brings destruction and misery. "And sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:15).
  11. But it also teaches that while God is chastening the sinner He is full of love and compassion for him (3:22, 23).

I. POETIC STYLE

  1. Merrill F. Unger wrote, "This book, consisting of five elegiac poems lamenting the fall of Jerusalem and the attendant sufferings of her people, is termed Ekah (How!) in the Hebrew from its first word" (Introductory Guide to the Old Testament).
  2. By "elegiac" (an elegy is a mournful poem), Dr. Unger is referring to the mournful and plaintive style of the poems. In the Hebrew, each elegy is in the form of an acrostic. This is obscured in our English translation.
  3. The first, second, and fourth poem contain twenty-two verses each, corresponding to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The third poem is similar, except that each letter of the alphabet is repeated three times -- there are sixty-six verses. The acrostic is dropped for the fifth poem, though it still contains twenty-two verses.
  4. This may have been done as an aid to memorization, or perhaps for worship purposes.
  5. Commentators refer to the book's "limping meter" -- the first part of the verse is longer than the second. Unger says, "Instead of being balanced and strengthened by the second, it is faintly echoed, making the whole verse seem to die away in a plaintive, melancholy cadence."
  6. Charles C. Ryrie says it is "a cadence used in funeral dirges" (Ryrie Study Bible).
  7. Eric W. Hayden says, "the limping meter as it has been called helps to give the impression of short sobs, the deep grief felt by the author at the destruction and desolation that has come to the Holy City through human sin" (Preaching Through the Bible).

II. OUTLINE

  1. The Desolation of Jerusalem (cf. 1:1)
  2. The Destruction of Jerusalem (cf. 2:1)
  3. The Distraught Prophet (cf. 3:1)
  4. The Defeated People of Jerusalem (cf. 4:6)
  5. The Prayer for the People (cf. 5:1)



These are simple Sunday School survey notes. They are not for sale. The author used many outlines from popular Bible teachers such as C.I. Scofield and J. Vernon McGee, and he has tried to give credit when using their material.



—  Pastor James J. Barker  —