Lamentations 3:37-5:22 New Revised Standard Version

37  Who can command and have it done, if the Lord has not ordained it? 38  Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? 39  Why should any who draw breath complain about the punishment of their sins? 40  Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord. 41  Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands to God in heaven.

42  We have transgressed and rebelled, and you have not forgiven. 43  You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us, killing without pity; 44  you have wrapped yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through. 45  You have made us filth and rubbish among the peoples. 46  All our enemies have opened their mouths against us; 47  panic and pitfall have come upon us, devastation and destruction. 48  My eyes flow with rivers of tears because of the destruction of my people. 49  My eyes will flow without ceasing, without respite, 50  until the Lord from heaven looks down and sees. 51  My eyes cause me grief at the fate of all the young women in my city. 52  Those who were my enemies without cause have hunted me like a bird; 53  they flung me alive into a pit and hurled stones on me; 54  water closed over my head; I said, "I am lost."

55  I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; 56  you heard my plea, "Do not close your ear to my cry for help, but give me relief!" 57  You came near when I called on you; you said, "Do not fear!" 58  You have taken up my cause, O Lord, you have redeemed my life. 59  You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord; judge my cause. 60  You have seen all their malice, all their plots against me. 61  You have heard their taunts, O Lord, all their plots against me. 62  The whispers and murmurs of my assailants are against me all day long. 63  Whether they sit or rise-see, I am the object of their taunt-songs. 64  Pay them back for their deeds, O Lord, according to the work of their hands! 65  Give them anguish of heart; your curse be on them! 66  Pursue them in anger and destroy them from under the Lord's heavens.

The Punishment of Zion Accomplished

4 1  How the gold has grown dim, how the pure gold is changed! The sacred stones lie scattered at the head of every street. 2  The precious children of Zion, worth their weight in fine gold- how they are reckoned as earthen pots, the work of a potter's hands! 3  Even the jackals offer the breast and nurse their young, but my people has become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness. 4  The tongue of the infant sticks to the roof of its mouth for thirst; the children beg for food, but no one gives them anything. 5  Those who feasted on delicacies perish in the streets; those who were brought up in purple cling to ash heaps. 6  For the chastisement of my people has been greater than the punishment of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, though no hand was laid on it. 7  Her princes were purer than snow, whiter than milk; their bodies were more ruddy than coral, their hair like sapphire. 8  Now their visage is blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets. Their skin has shriveled on their bones; it has become as dry as wood. 9  Happier were those pierced by the sword than those pierced by hunger, whose life drains away, deprived of the produce of the field. 10  The hands of compassionate women have boiled their own children; they became their food in the destruction of my people. 11  The Lord gave full vent to his wrath; he poured out his hot anger, and kindled a fire in Zion that consumed its foundations. 12  The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the inhabitants of the world, that foe or enemy could enter the gates of Jerusalem.

13  It was for the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed the blood of the righteous in the midst of her. 14  Blindly they wandered through the streets, so defiled with blood that no one was able to touch their garments. 15  "Away! Unclean!" people shouted at them; "Away! Away! Do not touch!" So they became fugitives and wanderers; it was said among the nations, "They shall stay here no longer." 16  The Lord himself has scattered them, he will regard them no more; no honor was shown to the priests, no favor to the elders. 17  Our eyes failed, ever watching vainly for help; we were watching eagerly for a nation that could not save. 18  They dogged our steps so that we could not walk in our streets; our end drew near; our days were numbered; for our end had come. 19  Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles in the heavens; they chased us on the mountains, they lay in wait for us in the wilderness. 20  The Lord's anointed, the breath of our life, was taken in their pits- the one of whom we said, "Under his shadow we shall live among the nations."

21  Rejoice and be glad, O daughter Edom, you that live in the land of Uz; but to you also the cup shall pass; you shall become drunk and strip yourself bare. 22  The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter Zion, is accomplished, he will keep you in exile no longer; but your iniquity, O daughter Edom, he will punish, he will uncover your sins.

A Prayer for Mercy

5 1  Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us; look, and see our disgrace! 2  Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our homes to aliens. 3  We have become orphans, fatherless; our mothers are like widows. 4  We must pay for the water we drink; the wood we get must be bought. 5  With a yoke on our necks we are hard driven; we are weary, we are given no rest. 6  We have made a pact with Egypt and Assyria, to get enough bread. 7  Our ancestors sinned; they are no more, and we bear their iniquities. 8  Slaves rule over us; there is no one to deliver us from their hand. 9  We get our bread at the peril of our lives, because of the sword in the wilderness. 10  Our skin is black as an oven from the scorching heat of famine. 11  Women are raped in Zion, virgins in the towns of Judah. 12  Princes are hung up by their hands; no respect is shown to the elders. 13  Young men are compelled to grind, and boys stagger under loads of wood. 14  The old men have left the city gate, the young men their music. 15  The joy of our hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned to mourning. 16  The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned!

17  Because of this our hearts are sick, because of these things our eyes have grown dim: 18  because of Mount Zion, which lies desolate; jackals prowl over it. 19  But you, O Lord, reign forever; your throne endures to all generations. 20  Why have you forgotten us completely? Why have you forsaken us these many days? 21  Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored; renew our days as of old- 22  unless you have utterly rejected us, and are angry with us beyond measure.

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