Zion's Sorrows Come from the LORD
2 1 Oh, oh, oh . . . How the Master has cut down Daughter Zion from the skies, dashed Israel's glorious city to earth, in his anger treated his favorite as throwaway junk. 2 The Master, without a second thought, took Israel in one gulp. Raging, he smashed Judah's defenses, made hash of her king and princes. 3 His anger blazing, he knocked Israel flat, broke Israel's arm and turned his back just as the enemy approached, came on Jacob like a wildfire from every direction. 4 Like an enemy, he aimed his bow, bared his sword, and killed our young men, our pride and joy. His anger, like fire, burned down the homes in Zion. 5 The Master became the enemy. He had Israel for supper. He chewed up and spit out all the defenses. He left Daughter Judah moaning and groaning. 6 He plowed up his old trysting place, trashed his favorite rendezvous. God wiped out Zion's memories of feast days and Sabbaths, angrily sacked king and priest alike. 7 God abandoned his altar, walked away from his holy Temple and turned the fortifications over to the enemy. As they cheered in God's Temple, you'd have thought it was a feast day! 8 God drew up plans to tear down the walls of Daughter Zion. He assembled his crew, set to work and went at it. Total demolition! The stones wept! 9 Her city gates, iron bars and all, disappeared in the rubble: her kings and princes off to exile - no one left to instruct or lead; her prophets useless - they neither saw nor heard anything from God.
10 The elders of Daughter Zion sit silent on the ground. They throw dust on their heads, dress in rough penitential burlap - the young virgins of Jerusalem, their faces creased with the dirt. 11 My eyes are blind with tears, my stomach in a knot. My insides have turned to jelly over my people's fate. Babies and children are fainting all over the place, 12 Calling to their mothers, "I'm hungry! I'm thirsty!" then fainting like dying soldiers in the streets, breathing their last in their mothers' laps. 13 How can I understand your plight, dear Jerusalem? What can I say to give you comfort, dear Zion? Who can put you together again? This bust-up is past understanding. 14 Your prophets courted you with sweet talk. They didn't face you with your sin so that you could repent. Their sermons were all wishful thinking, deceptive illusions. 15 Astonished, passersby can't believe what they see. They rub their eyes, they shake their heads over Jerusalem. Is this the city voted "Most Beautiful" and "Best Place to Live"? 16 But now your enemies gape, slack-jawed. Then they rub their hands in glee: "We've got them! We've been waiting for this! Here it is!" 17 God did carry out, item by item, exactly what he said he'd do. He always said he'd do this. Now he's done it - torn the place down. He's let your enemies walk all over you, declared them world champions! 18 Give out heart-cries to the Master, dear repentant Zion. Let the tears roll like a river, day and night, and keep at it - no time-outs. Keep those tears flowing! 19 As each night watch begins, get up and cry out in prayer. Pour your heart out face to face with the Master. Lift high your hands. Beg for the lives of your children who are starving to death out on the streets. 20 "Look at us, God. Think it over. Have you ever treated anyone like this? Should women eat their own babies, the very children they raised? Should priests and prophets be murdered in the Master's own Sanctuary? 21 "Boys and old men lie in the gutters of the streets, my young men and women killed in their prime. Angry, you killed them in cold blood, cut them down without mercy. 22 "You invited, like friends to a party, men to swoop down in attack so that on the big day of God's wrath no one would get away. The children I loved and reared - gone, gone, gone."